Laurie Wiid van Heerden established his studio, Wiid Design, in Cape Town in 2013. Often working collaboratively with other artists and across a wide variety of materials, Laurie’s product range spans furniture, lighting, tableware and collectible objects that combine specialist manufacturing with handcrafting.
The studio has become well-known for its innovative use of cork in high-end product design, architecture and large-scale production manufacturing. Recognised as an African “ambassador” for cork by Portuguese producer Amorim, Wiid van Heerden has pushed the boundaries of the material to achieve a number of world “firsts” – including the world’s largest cork pendant light and cork cabinet, both of which have been exhibited by Southern Guild.
Born in Cape Town in 1987, Wiid van Heerden opted for a hands-on approach to studying design and manufacturing. He apprenticed to Otto du Plessis and Charles Haupt at Bronze Age Foundry as well as to a carpenter for three years, and from 2009 to 2013 he worked closely with leading South African sculptor Wim Botha as his assistant. During this time he started designing and manufacturing his own ceramics and furniture, and collaborating with fellow creatives.
The first in his ongoing series of one-off benches, Untitled (After W.B.), is based on the techniques he learnt while working for Botha. A tribute to his mentor and an exploration of Laurie’s love for working with timber, the carefully constructed bench seat comprises a number of faceted and angular planes that form a controlled point or climax.
True to his polymathic approach to manufacturing, Laurie has since gone on to design a number of other benches in various materials, including terrazzo, Finnish Birch ply, concrete, salvaged antique timber beams, and mild steel finished with automotive paint. He has collaborated with the artist Lionel Smit and designer / illustrator Atang Tshikare on the latter, and has enjoyed a long-running working relationship with Ceramic Matters to produce lavishly glazed tiled furniture.
Wiid van Heerden won the Maker to Market Award At the 2013 Design Foundation Awards for his strong understanding of the value of brand-building and identity, marketing, consumer interaction and packaging. He won the Conde Nast House & Garden Award for production excellence in South African design at 100% Design South Africa in 2014 and the Best Lighting Design Award at the same event a year later. He was also recognized by the Arts & Culture Trust with its ImpACT Award in 2015 and by BRAVE / Rock Girl, a charity organisation, with the 2017 Brave Award for his support of its work to create safe spaces for girls. He has exhibited at 100% Design in London, Design Days Dubai, Design Miami/ Basel and Design Miami.