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An exclusive look inside the world of designer Adam Court at OKHA

We speak with the multi-talented designer behind the OKHA brand

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By Edwain Steenkamp  | July 30, 2023 | Design

A glimpse into the world of Adam Court, director and designer at Okha, reveals a man in deep contemplation on the nature of creativity, and the process of design. It’s little wonder then that his creations – often seen in the world’s finest homes and galleries – possess a timeless, and indeed, almost beguiling quality.

Adam Court from OKHA, standing with one of his designs, the ‘Void’ chair. Image: Niel Vosloo
The ‘Mesa’ table by Adam Court from OKHA. Image: Niel Vosloo

Since joining Okha as creative director in 2007 (with a small hiatus in between), he has been a galvanising force in the South African design industry. During his tenure he has created some of the world’s most distinct, instantly-recognisable works, placing Okha firmly in the spotlight as a pioneering voice for African furniture and design. As such, Okha is a mainstay on the design circuit the world over.

Adam in person, is every bit the artist you’d imagine him to be. Our conversation in his Cape Town office is reflective and meditative, as he pores over references, photographs, and sketches, detailing the dynamic process of bringing his work to life. He speaks of nature (like the scene captured in this border), raw materials, memories, and physical experiences much like other designers might speak of their collaborators. He’s inspired by long walks in the mountains and on beaches, where beauty exists in every irregularity of nature.

Adam Court from OKHA sketching out designs on raw materials. Image: by OKHA
The ‘Clash’ table by Adam Court from OKHA. Image: Niel Vosloo

‘I’ve fallen in love with the raw, visceral quality, and honesty of Africa,’ he says. ‘There’s an immediacy here, which comes through in the brutality of materials and forms. Things feel more resonant and vibrant in their natural state, and more connective.’ But nature is also chaotic, a fact Adam doesn’t shy away from. Instead, he embraces it to produce work that acts as an antidote to symmetrical forms and singular design language. In this way, he sees his work at Okha as an ‘exploration of the perfection of disharmony.’

A glimpse into the sketches that make up Adam Court’s designs. Image: by OKHA
The ‘Ambiguous Forms’ table by Adam Court from OKHA. Image: Niel Vosloo

Once the idea forms, that’s when the sketching begins. Adam will do as many as 20 rough sketches of an idea, often in just a few minutes. He then selects the very best of these, and refines them, spending up to a week or more to change, manipulate and tweak the smallest details. Whether it’s a curve, a line, or a detail as small as where two materials join, Adam spares no energy to ensure it speaks to him. ‘It sometimes feels like the design is already hidden in the raw materials,’ he says. ‘I draw, shape, carve, and sand away, until the design emerges and tells me it’s ready. It was like it
was already there, waiting to be brought to life and
 be born.’

You can discover more of Adam’s work at For the full exclusive story, be sure to get your hands on a copy of H&G SA by clicking here.