Continuing her series of profiles of Cape Town's artists and designers, Barbara Rubin visits industrial design prodigy Laurie Wiid Van Heerden.
Selecting natural materials and exploring their properties is the foundation of Laurie Wiid Van Heerden’s approach to designing authentic lifestyle objects.
“I love the smell of freshly-milled timber, cut leather and the raw craftsmanship of slip-casting a ceramic piece,” says Van Heerden.
Once renowned sculptor Wim Botha’s assistant at the Bronze Age Foundry (where they worked alongside South Africa’s foremost artist, William Kentridge), this rising design star incorporates materials like cork, felt, leather, wood, porcelain and energy saving LEDs into his homewares.
He also derives inspiration from old factories and antique shops. A self-confessed neat freak, Cape Town-born Van Heerden sees his workspace as a finishing and assembly shop where everything is organized and clean. He’s currently dreaming of a larger space so he can outsource less.
“Cape Town is the place to be right now for any designer or artisan,” says the 25-year-old. “There’s so much history here – and a healthy tension between gritty reality and blinding opulence.”
Van Heerden, who began designing as a boy, fixing old chairs and tables, before studying industrial design in 2006, recently had an exhibition of his cork products on the Glen Carlou Wine Estate in the scenic Paarl Valley. He is looking forward to Design Miami in June, where he’ll debut new designs.
“I design because I have to express myself,” he says. “It’s an amazing feeling being able to release my ideas into a physical form.”
Van Heerden Recommends:
- A visit to the Baxter Theatre, a piece of new-modernist architecture.
- Bellamy & Bellamy, a fabric shop in Muizenberg for high-quality, non-commercial fabric.
- Joining the Moonlight Mass, a hugely popular, monthly full moon bike ride from Greenpoint Circle to Greenmarket Square.
For more on Cape Town, click here.