Africa's first international design fair

Trevyn and Julian McGowan

Presenting at the beginning of World Design Capital 2014, GUILD will bring together limited edition design, from celebrated global galleries and institutions, for the first time in Africa.

GUILD is partnered by Arcelor Mittal South Africa, recent recipients of Basa’s long-term partnership award, sponsored by ABSA Private Banking and is presented in association with the V&A Waterfront and World Design Capital 2014.

Founded by Trevyn and Julian McGowan, leading global proponents of African design through their Southern Guild and Design Network Africa platforms, GUILD explores the theme of 'making’ at an elevated, collectible level. The impressive GUILD exhibitor lineup spans 17 countries, nine global voices and four continents. Pioneering, hand crafted design pieces, from around the world, return to the birthplace of 'the first man made object' produced 100 000 years ago.

“More than just a fair for beautiful objects, GUILD represents the coming together of dedicated, focused curators, designers and institutions who are striving to preserve and provoke exceptional, groundbreaking design. GUILD will introduce highly respected design authorities and work from Africa, USA, South America, Britain and Europe, and present these unique viewpoints to a fresh audience,” says Trevyn McGowan. 

The fair’s featured designer is Eindhoven based Nacho Carbonell, named ‘Designer of the Future’ by Design Miami in 2009, known for his distinctive design-art pieces - organic forms and animated surfaces that challenge conventional perceptions of design.

New York's R20th Century gallery will present a select group of designers who push the boundaries of art, craft and design, representing a compelling narrative about the history and future of American design since 1960, including Wendell Castle, Jeff Zimmerman, David Wiseman, The Haas Brothers and Thaddeus Wolfe.

“The primary connection between this group is that each individual both designs and makes their work; the designer’s hand is present in every piece. They are both technically proficient as well as fantastically visually creative and produce work that bridges the functional and sculptural in uniquely exceptional ways” says R20th Gallery co-founder Zesty Meyers.

Milan’s iconic champion of collectible design, Rossana Orlandi, often referred to as the fairy godmother of design for her trailblazing work with emerging designers, and provocative São Paulo-based gallery, Coletivo Amor de Madre, represent esteemed work from Europe and South America.

“As the world's leading museum of art and design, the Victoria and Albert Museum is pleased to present British contemporary design at GUILD in Cape Town. The collaboration with the British Council and its Maker Library Network allows us to strongly position British design in an inspiring context of making, collaborating and celebrating current design practice.” says Jana Scholze, Curator, Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and British Council partnership project, a part of the Maker Library Network commissioned by British Council’s ConnectZA, will be a unique collaboration for GUILD, presented by Victoria and Albert Museum curator Jana Scholze and Daniel Charny, Creative Director of the Maker Library Network project. The V&A will present a display showcasing the work of several generations of British designers, representing how British contemporary design is defined, executed and challenged. It will present design and making across several generations with a range of established and emerging designers practicing in various fields including craft, industrial and the speculative, where designers reflect on future challenges in society.

Leading edge, limited edition African design will be presented by Design Network Africa, a project initiated and led by the Danish Centre for Culture and Development  (CKU) and funded by Danida, and Southern Guild the globally recognized platform for collectible South African Design.

The Origins Centre will challenge GUILD visitors to question ideas of ‘advancement’ and ‘function’ – their exhibit ‘Design Origins Africa South’ will display objects that attest to human ingenuity from the deep past, from the very first objects produced by man 110 000 years ago, through to modern times. As a counterpoint, Agents of the 3D Revolution will show how the most innovative international 3D print designers and artists are shaping new technology to serve their creative needs.

“Some of the GUILD participants are commercial galleries, some are organisations, some are institutions – they were invited to this momentous platform because they share a desire to articulate and shape our understanding of the importance of this category of design driven by heart, skill and vision – the most human forms of expression,” says Trevyn McGowan.

“When designers are deeply involved in the process of what they make – hands on, immersed – a different kind of work emerges; and the distance between what is rapidly made, mass produced or machine led and what is a result of process, intimacy and narrative, becomes greater. Handmade pieces are what really contain meaning for society and for the people who own them.”

Gallery R20th Century’s co-founder, Zesty Meyers says: “I am thrilled to be participating in GUILD and adding our voice to this global community of people around the world creating amazing designs, sharing knowledge and spreading ideas.”

Globally, there is a rapidly expanding arena for hand-made limited edition design, fetching record-breaking prices at fairs and auctions. This category is highly sought out by museums and collectors, and in the past decade the field has grown considerably – measured by the increasing number of museum exhibitions, international design art fairs and attention from major international auction houses.

Since 2011 the McGowan’s have showcased collectible South African and African design alongside the leading global galleries, on platforms such as Design Miami, Collective in NY and Design Days Dubai. Their efforts to raise the global profile of Africa’s burgeoning design scene recently earned them a place on Art + Auction magazine’s ‘POWER 100’ list of the most influential players in the art world. Cape Town’s designation as World Design Capital 2014 presents a unique opportunity to ‘bring the world to Cape Town’.

The prestigious World Design Capital designation is bestowed biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) to cities that recognise the value of design thinking, and are dedicated to using design as tools for social, cultural and economic change. Previous winners have been Helsinki, Seoul and Turin, and Taipei will hold the title in 2016.

“Cape Town’s designation as World Design Capital – the first African city to hold the title – will draw increased global attention to the growing relevance and emerging creativity of the continent,” says Trevyn. “Craft is very old in Africa, but design is very young. Part of the global appeal of contemporary South African and African design is that it’s unfettered, imaginative and energetic. The work has an underlying passion, a beat and a pulse. Taking South African design to the world has given us an opportunity to see who we are within this international forum.”

As a World Design Capital city, Cape Town will present a number of ICSID signature events, including a high profile Gala Awards Ceremony that will be hosted by GUILD. In addition, a board of adjudicators has awarded official World Design Capital status to selected projects deemed to be of excellence. As a selected event, GUILD will form part of the official programme for 2014, and is already being tipped as the go-to show on the World Design Capital calendar.

With the recent announcement of a partnership between the V&A Waterfront and Jochen Zeitz to create Africa's first major Museum of Contemporary Art, this iconic visitor attraction is fast establishing itself as a key destination to share the cultural artefacts and ideas of Africa with the world.

Over the course of 11 days, GUILD will transform The Lookout at the V&A Waterfront into a vibrant hub of design activity, community and conversation – attracting both serious collectors and design lovers. In addition to the gallery exhibits, there will be an interactive programme of talks and workshops, educational curator tours, performance art happenings and a variety of associated functions and events. 

More than 10 000 visitors are expected to attend.


GUILD’s list of participating galleries and individuals includes some of the most respected names in the international design world:

  • Nacho Carbonell, Holland – GUILD Featured Designer for 2014
  • R 20th Century, New York 
  • Rossana Orlandi, Italy
  • V&A Museum and The British Council, UK
  • Coletivo Amor de Madre, Brazil
  • Agents of the 3D Revolution, Global
  • Origins Centre, South Africa
  • Southern Guild, South Africa
  • Design Network Africa, African Continent


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