Thursday, July 19, 2012

West Elm's South Africa Collection

If you've been reading this blog awhile, you'll know that one of the things I'm most passionate about is Africa and African design. Having grown up in Zimbabwe and having worked with African artists in the past, I'm always awed and inspired by the raw creative talent that exudes from the region. I was very excited when I first learnt of West Elm's recent collaboration with South African artists and this excitement only grew when I was able to visit the store in person and see the beautiful pieces myself. 

Like South Africa itself, the collections are full of energy and colour and many pieces of the pieces are inspired by the local landscape.

Artist Gemma Orkin describes her own pieces as 'happy and uncomplicated', her hand painted illustrations depict local South African flora and fauna applied on cups, bowls, plates and pillows. See more of her work here.

Renowned Cape Town furniture designer John Vogel has created a collection including a bench, lounger and chairs with webbed seating inspired by traditional African riempie weaving. I'm a big fan of John's work and the philosophy behind it, learn more about John here and at his website.

One of my favourite discoveries was Loren Kaplan's white dinnerware collection. It is deeply inspired by the traditional West African Venda and Elim village potters, but these strong patterns are made more subtle in all white. The effect is a thoroughly updated traditional motif. Learn more about Loren's beautiful ceramic creations here.

Another favourite was Cape Town artist Porky Hefer's wooden pendant lights inspired by children's spinning tops. They remind me of miniature Eames stools. See more of Porky's playful and quite humorous pieces here (I quite enjoyed the 'Bob' door mat :) ).

I was thoroughly impressed with this collaboration and the thoughtfulness that West Elm has obviously taken in sourcing and curating these items. To learn more about this collaboration and the artists behind it visit West Elm's blog, where they have some fantastic profiles, videos and interviews with the artists.

{All photos: West Elm}

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