In 2014, Cape Town was elected World Design Capital, an honour granted every two years by the World Design Organization in recognition of cities that use design effectively as a guiding force for economic, social, cultural and environmental development. This honour was both recognition of work done and stimulus for a multitude of sustainable and innovative urban policies aimed at improving the quality of life.
Known for its natural beauty, wineries and its role in modern South African history, Cape Town had started on this path towards design long before international recognition came calling. One of the symbols of this trend is the Southern Guild Gallery, founded in 2008 by married couple Julian and Trevyn McGowan. At the time it was the only gallery to feature African collectibles. The gallery has enabled South Africa’s leading designers to develop their most innovative creations, breaking the boundaries for quality and originality for the design industry in general. International recognition came shortly after for the project which was viewed as a representative example of excellence and authentic South African style, blurring the line between art and design.
The gallery regularly hosts displays of modern furniture, lighting, ceramics and sculpture that have redefined the perception of African design and converted the gallery into one of the leading lights on the global stage. Such is its position that it was the only African gallery with an exhibition at Design Miami in 2011, while in 2015 it was the only one to be invited to the annual design auction organized by Christie’s in London.
Following the complete redevelopment of the V&A Waterfront, culminating in the opening of the innovative Zeitz MOCAA in 2017, the gallery inaugurated its new home in the Silo District, within the GUILD. This visionary concept store also includes an interior design studio (with a modern, beguiling collection of limited edition products developed by select African designers and craftsmen) and a selection of internationally designed products. GUILD Store is a ever-changing showcase of fashion, jewellery, accessories, stationery, books, gift items, ceramics and technology.
The gallery celebrated its 10th anniversary by playing host to SGX, from 24 November 2018 to 7 February 2019. This collection was a look back over the first decade of a project both unique and truly special, bringing together the revolutionary pieces that have changed the panorama of South African design and making it a player on the world stage.
Photo courtesy Southern Guild Gallery / southernguild.co.za