As 2016 draws to a close, we reflect on some of the incredible designs, interiors, art and photography that found their fruition this year. Inspired by Dezeen’s Hotlist, we’ve compiled a list of 10 outstanding local designers and artists, both known and emerging, who have made an impression on 2016.
From public sculptures and installations to product and furniture design, Porky Hefer creates three-dimensional objects that serve as manifestations of conceptual precepts. Fascinated by the reactions and energy a piece can generate in a space, he embraces Africa and the skills and processes that are readily available, rather than trying to emulate foreign ones.
Hefer strives to produce work that elicits a smile and stays in your head – and he has succeeded in doing just that. From solo shows at Cape Town’s Southern Guild, the London Design Biennale as well as his upcoming international show at NYC’s design gallery R & Company, Hefer is presenting a concept unique, inspiring and functional, with a beauty both young and old are drawn to.
Founder of MaXhosa, a fashion label that uses traditional Xhosa beadwork motifs and patterns, Laduma Ngxokolo has caught the attention of fashion lovers worldwide. His Xhosa-inspired shawl, knit in black and white yarn, was named the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at this year’s Design Indaba. The shawl was designed as part of Ngxokolo’s Autumn/Winter ’16 collection, is unisex and can be styled in over twenty different ways.
The fashion designer has received numerous accolades and captures the hearts of fashionistas and media from South Africa, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, Berlin and New York. Ngxokolo recently won the Vogue Italia Scouting for Africa prize, showcasing his collections at the Palazzo Morando Show in Milan, Italy.
New York-born, Johannesburg-based, Roger Ballen released The Theatre of Apparitions this year – over and above his release of The Theatre of the Mind – his latest series and body of work that features both a short film and seven-chapter book. True to style, the series awes viewers with its visceral, highly original content; a nightmarish world of Roger Ballen’s subconscious.
Ballen’s famous photographic work plays on the metaphor of the mind as a house of secrets and buried narratives. In the film, he has created a series of images inspired by the drawings and marks that people make on their environment, which become macabre, theatrical performances. With multiple solo shows worldwide, from Lisboa, Portugal to Mexico City, as well as local exhibitions with Gallery Momo, he is prolific – and on high demand.
Unathi Mkonto is a self-developed multidisciplinary artist bordering the lines between fashion and architecture. Represented by SMITH Gallery at this year’s FNB Joburg Art Fair, ‘Pavement, ink on board’ was a show highlight, particularly so for H&G‘s arts editor Eva-Maria Shuman. Born in Peddie, Eastern Cape, Mkonto is now based in Cape Town. We expect big and creative things from this young talent.
Read our Top 10 Favourites at this year’s FNB Joburg Art Fair here.
Exploring the border-zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art, Athi-Patra Ruga creates work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics. Working in performance, video, costumes and photography, his work bursts with eclectic multicultural references.
The artist has had an exceptional year, including recent exhibitions AFRICA: Architecture, Culture and Identity at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art; Imaginary Fact at the South African Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale; African Odysseys at The Brass Artscape in Brussels; Public Intimacy at the SFMOMA, San Francisco; The Film Will Always Be You: South African Artists on Screen at the Tate Modern in London; and Making Africa at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
Ruga was also recently included in the Phaidon book Younger Than Jesus, a directory of over 500 of the world’s best artists under the age of 33. His works form part of private, public and museum collections here and abroad. And he’s just getting started.
Read why Athi-Patra is One to Watch here.
Greg Gamble and Philippe van der Merwe, Tonic Design
Based in Johannesburg, Tonic Design is an interior-architectural design studio that specialises in custom design and limited edition products and furniture. Their studio in Kramerville showcases a select range of their designs, as well as hand-picked imported products and contemporary fine art pieces.
Founders Greg Gamble and Philippe van der Merwe designed and manufactured their first range of furniture nearly fifteen years ago; then, it was an exploration into the principles of modernism, functionality and relevance. To this day, the talented duo continue this channel of thought, creating some of the industry’s most exquisite modern pieces. ‘The sophistication of our work is the result of an unorthodox approach towards materials, an emphasis on technical precision and a return to traditional construction techniques and refined craftsmanship,’ they say.
Read our Decor Dos and Dont’s with Greg and Philippe here.
Stefan Antoni, SAOTA
The names Stefan Antoni and SAOTA are among the most well-known and respected in the local architecture and design industries. Stefan Antoni set up the architectural practice Stefan Antoni Architects in 1987; today it has morphed to SAOTA, a globally recognised and internationally renowned firm with high-end projects across the globe. Antoni has contributed to setting a new standard of design and professionalism in South Africa’s domestic market. From recent retail projects, such as Lume Beauty Atelier, to dramatic spaces and monolithic structures — each project places emphasis on sleek bold statements and modern living.
Explore Stefan’s Atlantic Seaboard home here.
Mevrou & Co.
Mevrou & Co. has taken the concept of fun, fresh fashion design and accelerated it. And South Africans are loving it. The two campaigns, Jew Crew and Die Basie, feature plain white tees, each with a typical slogan – from Jewish slang, like ‘Mashuga’ and ‘Mazeltov’, to Afrikaans lingo like ‘Moeilikheid’ and ‘Deurmekaar’. Praise goes to Catherine Raphaely, Maybe Corpaci and Mary-Anne Grobler, the three behind the label, for creating something ingenious. And so simple.
Their knack with online marketing and social media has helped see the brand grow incredibly quickly. Visit their Instagram for a laugh.
Swaady Martin, an Ivorian entrepreneur, prides herself as a custodian of Africa’s rich culture and history. In 2013 she founded YSWARA, an African global luxury brand. YSWARA creates beautiful products using the continent’s natural resources, produced by African artisans. Products include gourmet tea, chocolates and homeware and accessories. Through her brand, Martin aims to capture African luxury, while honouring its cultural heritage and craftsmanship.
This year, she opened the YSWARA tea room in Maboneng, Johannesburg. Read about it here.
South African photographer Lindsey Appolis began his career over six years ago, when he abandoned a corporate job for a career in Cape Town’s vibrant art scene. Although not initially drawn to the act of photography, he found himself behind the camera, and it stuck. ‘With a camera in hand and an insatiable curiosity, I’ve never been happier waking up to go to “work”. I realised that photography had little to do with equipment and everything to do with heart,’ he says.
Appolis has most recently been documenting the creation of one of the country’s most anticipated films, Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief). Based on true events, Noem My Skollie follows the journey of its writer John Fredericks, a gangster-turned-filmmaker. For Appolis, a former resident of the city’s Cape Flats, Fredericks’ story and the resulting artworks ring true.