South African Artistry
During the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market last week, I had the pleasure of spending some time at South Africa's Lifestyle Hub, located at Americasmart in Building 1, suite 5-E-16.
The new permanent showroom, launched by the South African Department of Trade and Industry and Small Enterprise Development Agency, features furniture, lighting, soft goods, ceramics, art and accessories crafted by South African artisans. According to Brand South Africa, a publicly funded organization charged with promoting the country, the goal of the showroom is "to help emerging artisans and crafts people break into the U.S. market for handmade textiles, clothing, furniture and decorative housewares."
Based on my experience there, I'd say it's off to a good start.
Managed by McGlobal Explorers, the showroom greets visitors with its eye-catching acacia wood floor. The glass panels beside the entrance feature tributes to the late Nelson Mandela, which are also presented throughout the space.
When I walked in, I was captivated by the expert artistry on display. Markets always impress upon me the wealth of creativity that permeates this industry, and South Africa's Lifestyle Hub reminded me of the ingenuity and skill that exists across the globe.
One company whose wares are showcased in the space, Bayede, was developed as a job creation initiative under Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and crafts everything from clothing and jewelry to pottery and pillows. Other designs include baskets woven from palm leaves, textured ceramics, decorative animal figures made from wire and beads and even ottomans that incorporate recycled tires.
Here are a few of the highlights:
Based in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, Ozzys Eco Décor creates products for the home from recycled materials. This ottoman gives new life to an old tire, and features a removable top for storage.
These gorgeous baskets are the handiwork of Angeline Masuku of Kwa Zulu Natal, who weaves them using palm leaves.
Based in Gauteng, Bohlokoa Studio crafts light shades, serveware and decorative accessories from porcelain and bone china.
The showroom features a variety of furniture, pillows and rugs from companies such as Tlanggape Upholstery of the Limpopo province and Kxoxo Leather Designs of the Northern Cape.
Potina Ceramics of the Western Cape imbues traditional African design with a modern touch, creating pottery with natural colors that allow pattern to take center stage.
Ursh Works Ceramics of the Western Cape manufacturers 100% food safe ceramic tabletop products that meld function with art.