Southern Guild was established in 2008, providing a platform for collectible, limited-edition South African design, showcasing work by the most recognized names in the country and cultivating the careers of emerging designers. Southern Guild also presents GUILD, Africa’s only international design fair, in Cape Town every second year.
South African design is artisanal, handmade and cerebral and the gallery’s designers work in a very personal, exploratory way, with deep cultural relevance. Southern Guild encourages collaboration and discourse, which aims to stimulate and provoke the local design industry and has become a benchmark for quality and originality.
The patterned Isibheqe cabinets are the latest addition to the Kassena series – the first of which was produced in 2012. The shape of the Kassena cabinets is inspired by the hand-painted adobe structures built by the Kassena people, who live in the Tiébélé region on the border of Ghana and Burkina Faso. The geometric patterns wrapped around the cabinets actually represent two literary texts in the Sotho and Tsonga languages, written in the Pan-Southern African writing system called Isibheqe Sohlamvu, or Ditema tsa Dinoko.
This Isibheqe script is developed through the symbolic design traditions of the Southern African region, such as Sotho litema murals or Zulu amabheqe beadwork. Primarily for use with Nguni, Sotho-Tswana, Tsonga and Venda languages, the Isibheqe script combines letters representing the key phonetic features of those languages into geometric syllabograms. Each triangle or circle shape in the vertical lines of text on the cabinets represents one syllable of the text.
As a decolonial alternative literacy, the writing system is an Africanist technology designed to advance Southern African language literacies. The Isibheqe cabinets engage the literary force of this indigenous writing system, and together with the Kassena-inspired shape, create a poignant piece of Pan-African visual art.
Contact/ Lezanne van Heerden
Address/ Unit 1, 10–16 Lewin Street, Woodstock, Cape Town 7925, South Africa