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On the CUSP Series: Meet Laurie Wiid Van Heerden and Driaan Claassen

Furniture designer Laurie Wiid Van Heerden shared the collaborative process with Driaan Claassen

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By Piet Smedy | October 26, 2022 | Art

We spoke to founder of Wiid Design, Laurie Wiid Van Heerden about his process, the importance of staying imaginative and the principles of design.

He explains, ‘From a very young age, I have been collecting objects art and natural curiosities; beautiful objects not only make me happy, but motivate and inspire me to create something new. 'Function has always been central to my thinking; I love creating pieces that have a purpose and meaning - creating products people can collect and use in their everyday lives.’

Functional design is extremely complex; it takes a good designer to truly understand materials, process, proportion, form and execution.

Back in 2010, my studio started experimenting with cork. A versatile material, cork adds a great value to our work; this motivates my team to keep on creating pieces that portray a message of luxury and sustainability.

Wiid Design was established in Cape Town in 2013. We often work collaboratively with other artists and across various materials. Our product range spans furniture, lighting, tableware, and collectable furniture and objects.

Cork is one of the first material Wiid Studio started experimenting with, Image: Karl Rogers

With design, it is all about the proportions, how one portrays the materials and combines all the above into a truly functional, practical and comfortable piece. It must always be original, and we prefer not to follow trends.

Generally, when we have a concept in mind, we start with a material selection and drawings. We design and render at least 10 to 15 concepts, and once the final concept and material selection has been concluded, we refine the product even more.

Natural wood at its most functional, Image: Karl Rogers

We aim to create pieces that elicit an emotional response as much as they invite you to think - to create products that are original, desirable and have a sustainable impact on the environment. As a designer, I feel we have a responsibility to find smarter and more sustainable ways to produce and consume.

Essentially, design is everything - we all have a responsibility to design smart products that change the perception of the current and future consumer. The work presented for CUSP was more on the collectable one-off side, where we focused on traditional hand crafting in combination with avant-garde techniques.

We exhibited new and existing pieces at CUSP. The latter included our beautifully hand-carved occasional chair in light cork and carved maple, including our hand- carved walnut tortoise shell. The new pieces were three-metre benches carved from ancient Nordic pine, which were collaborative pieces with fellow designer and artist Driaan Claassen.

This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of House and Garden