INTERVIEW DAY: LAURIE WIID VAN HEERDEN

Interview day has snuck up on us, and with mid-year craziness swirling all around us it’s understandable that many design professionals have over flowing schedules, making it difficult to find time to answer a bombardment of questions.  However, we will draw your attention to Laurie Wiid van Heerden, and his collaboration with Atang Tshikare for the currently ongoing Southern Guild Exhibition at the Circa, Everard Read gallery.
While borrowed from Visi, the interview remains interesting, showcasing a piece of work that strikes me as extremely urban and edgy, and one that I would love to see in public spaces.  Perhaps in the ever burgeoning and developing, trendy Braamfontein and Maboneng Precinct?
Laurie’s work is already a great favourite of ours, especially his Cork Stopper Chandelier:

Pairing him with the the street art loving person responsible for customized sneakers, stilettos and furniture, and something dynamic was bound to be created.  We weren’t disappointed when we saw the final product:

So many thanks to Visi Magazine for bringing these two talented design soldiers and their joint project to our attention:

When designers of different disciplines join forces, the results are often mind-blowing. We spoke to furniture designer Laurie Wiid van Heerden about working with graphic artist Atang Tshikare to produce this unforgettable bench.

VISI: How did the idea for this project come about?
LWvH: I was approached to work on a collaboration for benches at Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg for the Rock Girl campaign (a public art and education project that partners with artists and designers to create safe places for girls and women). I love graffiti and think it’s a pity so much of it gets destroyed or damaged, so decided so design a product that would showcase this art form in a different way.  But we’re still waiting to get sponsors for the Muizenberg project and, as it’s such a cool idea, I decided to go ahead with the concept for the Southern Guild 2012 collection and exhibition.
We love the convergence of furniture design with graffiti. Was that always the idea, or did the concept evolve as it progressed?
This was always the idea behind the design – to create a functional, unique piece of art.
How did Atang Tshikare become involved?
India Baird of Rock Girl introduced us. He struck me as a really cool guy and I absolutely loved his work.  
In what functional context do you imagine the benches will work? Are they hardwearing enough for public spaces?
These benches are designed for the outdoors and the finish is hardwearing – galvanised 5mm steel, with automotive primers, base coats and four coats of lacquer. But, no matter how durable, they will tarnish and scratch over time. They would work well on a stoep or under a bridge where there’s some protection from the elements.
Are they one-off designs for Southern Guild or do you plan to produce them en masse?
These particular benches (one graffiti bench entitled “Where we at?” and the steel bench with the copper legs) form part of the Southern Guild collection.  But I’m hoping to expand beyond benches to produce different pieces. They will always be unique, as the artist draws or paints on each one individually.
Did you gain any insights from collaborating with an artist whose practice is so different from your own?
Yes, there are always things to learn from other designers and artists. Atang is very relaxed but extremely hardworking. I have never seen a guy have so much patience and draw with such precision.

For further reading on the project, have a look at the Wiid Design blog.

-Lee

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