Husband-and-wife team Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin are Dokter and Misses, a multi-disciplinary product design company founded in 2007. Their respective industrial and graphic design skills combine to create work described as “modernist, where strong construction lines and a bold use of colour create graphic shapes and spaces.”
Hugo and Taplin’s work is inspired by the city in which it is conceived and produced: Johannesburg. Their innovative designs – including both limited-edition and production furniture, lighting and interior objects – have captured the attention of interior design enthusiasts across the world and defined an original aesthetic that is distinctly modern and African.
Several designs feature contemporary reinterpretations of traditional African patterns. The LALA Shwantla combines Art Deco inspiration with the geometry of Basotho patterns, while their Kassena series references the adobe structures of the Kassena people of Burkina Faso. Other pieces, such as Sun City (hth), combine super–realistic airbrushed graphics with graphic steel forms, creating a multifaceted work layered with political, historical and cultural South African narratives.
Their recent solo exhibition at Southern Guild, Practically Everywhere (2019), continues their strong graphic signature while experimenting with a more radical aesthetic. The collection of sculptural cabinets in timber, steel and glass was inspired by the visual noise and discordance of urban ecosystems, and sought to convey this sense of entropy. The furniture featured jagged shapes, odd proportions and stacked forms overlaid with gestural marks and textural surface treatments.
Dokter and Misses’ editioned work has been shown at a number of international shows – Design Miami/ Basel, The Salon Art + Design and Collective (both in New York), Design Days Dubai, and as part of Graphic Africa at Platform Gallery in London and Grains of Paradise at R & Company in New York. They have exhibited at major museums such as the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York and VITRA Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany and have been featured in Wallpaper*, Dwell and The New York Times. The couple won the Icon Award at the Southern Guild Design Foundation Awards 2015/2016, and participated in the ground-breaking programme Design Network Africa (2011-2016).