Porky Hefer’s craft-conscious design

Porky Hefer Grace Amphibious. Image credits: Nico Krijno photographer and model, Lucy Mulima wearing Aya Goods

Porky Hefer’s Grace Amphibious. Photographer: Nico Krijno, Model: Lucy Mulima wearing Aya Goods.

Designer Porky Hefer, who’s famous for his human-proportioned “nest” environments, is about to have his first solo exhibition titled Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I at the Southern Guild. The gallery provides a platform for showcasing the best of South African design and brings together artists, designers, architects and upcoming talents to produce limited-edition creations.

The Cape Town designer’s humourous pieces always catch the eye, whether it’s Birdwatcher (co-designed by Warren Lewis), “a surveillance-style” birdhouse, or Dora Esca, a leather, steel and sheepskin hanging chair that’s inspired by the deep-sea angler fish.

His exhibition is a fantastical waterscape with a difference: underwater animal-inspired hanging seating environments, such as a puffer fish woven with Kooboo cane, suspended high against walls painted a gorgeous aquatic blue.

“My pieces get people to think about nature and its fragility and make them consider how to protect it,” says Hefer. “They’re also about protecting local crafts so that these traditions don’t die out.”

The six pieces were created using local artisanal skills, including weaving, stitching and splicing. “No one is playing with these skills in this way,” says Hefer. “People are latching onto technology, but this evolves so quickly that it’s hard to benefit from it because by the time you master a technological aspect it’s already dead.”

The designer worked very closely with Cape Town cane craftsman Ismael Bey on weaving projects. “Ismael has trained weavers at the Cape Town Society for the Blind, where I’ve had a lot of my designs produced. In this way, I use his traditional knowledge and weaving skills and subvert these into non-traditional forms, making them more relevant. We have such skilled human beings in this country, using techniques not found anywhere else in the world.”

Over the past few years years, his work has been globally acclaimed and his nest environments were hot property at DesignMiami/Basel in June this year, plus three of his pieces recently achieved record sales at a specially curated Christie’s London Design Auction.

Porky Hefer by credit Justin Polkey for Ogojiii.

Porky Hefer by Justin Polkey for Ogojiii.

“Not many people are doing environmentally-inspired pieces of this nature and especially at this scale,” explains Southern Guild co-founder Julian McGowan. “Porky’s work pushes boundaries and perceptions of what art and design are, and ultimately what furniture is and can be.”

Don’t miss this long overdue solo exhibition, which promises to be memorable. Monstera Deliciosa, Volume I is on at the Southern Guild Gallery from 20 November 2015-5 February 2016. Southern Guild will be closed from 16 December and will reopen on 6 January.

10 Lewin Street, Woodstock, Cape Town.
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 10am-5pm; Saturday by appointment.

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