AHEC presents Future Heirlooms in Johannesburg

by HomeDecorBeauty

AHEC presents the future of South African Design

Future Heirlooms is a project by AHEC, presented at Always Welcome in Johannesburg (until 30 October 2022) in collaboration with seven South African design studios working in American red oak.

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) presents Future Heirlooms, a project in collaboration with designer collective Always Welcome, manufacturer and designer Houtlander and timber importer BOS Timbers, which highlights the work of South African designers and explores the future of sustainable design.

The result is a collection of seven pieces by Dokter and Misses, MashT Design Studio, TheUrbanative, Kumsuka, Kalki Ceramics, Joe Paine in partnership with Nathan Gates, and Nøde Studio, which look to the future while exploring each creativity’s heritage and South -Celebrating Africa’s design legacy.

Sustainable potential

‘Now Now’ – Digital Grandfather Clock and Repository for Family Information and Memorabilia by Joe Paine & Nathan Gates. Image courtesy AHEC

As with all AHEC’s projects, Future Heirlooms is an opportunity to highlight its materials’ sustainable potential. The wood for the project arrived at the South African port of Durban carbon negative, meaning that more CO2 was sequestered in the delivered wood than was released through the process of preparing the material. Just over one cubic meter of wood was used to produce all seven pieces, and over their lifetime they will keep around 1,069 kg of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

“We need to end our current throwaway culture and we need to use materials that have a low environmental impact,” says Roderick Wiles, regional director of AHEC. ‘These issues should affect all our daily decision-making. Designers in particular have a great influence on how products are planned and with which materials.’

Future Heirlooms by AHEC

‘Meterage: The Act of Measuring’ by MashT Design Studio (Thabisa Mjo), made from hand-carved American red oak, with ebony slow stain. Image courtesy AHEC

The pieces, which will be on view at the Always Welcome viewing rooms in Johannesburg (until 30 October 2022), include a digital grandfather clock by Joe Paine & Nathan Gates, a screen by Nøde Studio that fuses technology and craft, and a piece of furniture by Kalki Ceramics, which references the aesthetics of the South African tree snake.

Some of the works in the project create a connection with local traditions and objects, such as that of Siyanda Mazibuko (a graduate of Discovered, the 2021 collaboration between Wallpaper* and AHEC) who created the ‘Ukhamba Table’, whose forms are informed by Zulu Ukhamba drinking vessels, traditionally shared between friends and family at Zulu gatherings. Similarly, a table by Thabisa Mjo’s MashT is inspired by traditional Xhosa clothing, while a chair by Mpho Vackier features charred wood and references braided hairstyles typical of the Fulani people of West Africa.

‘Family Portrait’ by Doctor and Teacher (Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin). Image courtesy AHEC

Some of the pieces offer an intimate glimpse into the designers’ lives, such as Doctor and Misses’ ‘Family Portrait’, a cabinet inspired by their new family life after welcoming a child, with hand-painted patterns and a section for each family member

‘This project was the perfect platform for us to work with skilled South African designers and manufacturers, while also helping them work with an abundant, versatile and beautiful, yet lesser-known American hardwood,’ continues Wiles.

‘The Boomslang’ by Kalki Ceramics (Nindya Bucktowar and Nikhil Tricam), made from American red oak with hand-fired ceramic tiles. Image courtesy AHEC

In 2023, all seven pieces will move to Always Welcome Heritage House in Cape Town. ‘We hope that this project inspires important conversations about sustainability in South African furniture design,’ says Garreth van Niekerk, director and co-founder of the Always Welcome collective. ‘And that the personal narratives of each designer imbued in each piece bring joy and pleasure to visitors of the show during its course.’ §

‘Fulani Chair’ by The Urbanative (Mpho Vackier}, made of charred American red oak. Image courtesy AHEC

‘Ukhamba Table’ by Kumsuka (Siyanda Mazibuko), made of charred American red oak, with ebony slow stain. Image courtesy AHEC

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