Design Indaba 2017: Exhibition Highlights

Three standouts from this year's exciting display of South African stars on the rise

Juxtaposed with the exciting lineup of industry veterans who take the stage at Design Indaba are a group of locals who’ve been tapped to show their work at the festival’s Emerging Creatives and Featured Artists exhibition. Some have caught our eye before, like beloved knitwear specialist Laduma Ngxokolo and his fashion label Maxhosa, but others are newly inspiring. Below are three standouts spotted at the 2017 show.

MICHL Contemporary Fine Jewellery

Taiwan-born jewelry designer Michelle Liao moved to South Africa when she was 12 years old, and her work is a fantastic combination of her upbringing. This year she exhibited within the Featured Artists section of the Design Indaba showcase and alongside Scooby-wire earrings and bracelets which recall elements of Ndebele or Fula patterns, Liao showed a new range called Heritage. This collection more dutifully fuses her Asian-African background, and encompasses a set of gold-plated, handcrafted hair combs that meld the decorative nature of traditional kanzashi ornaments with the shape of a classic wide-tooth Afro comb.

Nicholas Coutts

Capetonian fashion designer Nicholas Coutts crafts tactile-driven garments that are as boldly colorful as they are simply beautiful. Coutts’ artistic approach already sees his work as a glossy magazine favorite, and could easily compete at prestige European Fashion Weeks. His A/W 2017 collection includes an elegant harlequin-inspired silk shirt (tucked into vibrant tracksuit bottoms), oversized mohair scarves layered with ‘70s-esque plaid business suits, and finely tailored skirts and tops in a mix of materials. As part of DI’s Emerging Creatives picks, Coutts’ men’s and women’s pieces are currently all made to order at his Cape Town atelier, but we expect to see Coutts become an international household name in no time at all.

Wiid Design

Obsessed with proportion and simplicity, Featured Artist Laurie Wiid van Heerden uses Portuguese cork to perfectly produce everything from bar stools and freestanding lamps to vases and skulls. His skills with the quotidian material are surprising, and have garnered his studio, Wiid Design, a handful of awards including the Absolut Visi Designer of 2011, the Southern Guild Design Foundation Maker to Market Award in 2013 and the Conde Nast House & Garden award for production excellence in South African design in 2015. His portfolio isn’t all cork, though, and from his Woodstock (Cape Town) studio Wiid van Heerden creates a range of benches in copper and brass, Finnish Birch ply and stainless steel, or one solid piece of 100-year-old timber.

Images courtesy of respective designers