Cape Town designer Xandre Kriel creates limited-edition furniture through the use of simple geometry. The aesthetic appeal of shapes is his motivating force, and for over 10 years he has found a balance between working with the tactile properties of wood and the technological processes involved in steelwork.
Born in 1977, Kriel grew up in the small town of Ashton in the Boland of South Africa, a rich agricultural area known for its fruit farms and winemaking. Every weekend he would drive through Montague’s jagged rock-faced Cogmanskloof pass to visit his grandparents. Sundays were spent breaking apart old Olivetti DE523 computers on the floor of his grandfather’s garage, to the smell of grease as he fixed cars. It’s here that Kriel began his fascination with form – the tension between the nostalgia of the analogue and industrial, and the imagination of the futuristic.
He studied electronics at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology focusing on binary systems but left to pursue a more direct, hands-on relationship with making. Kriel draws inspiration from materials in their natural state, observing and emphasising their character through manipulation of shape and form.
His Assegai chair, for example, was cued by the characteristic shape of the historic spear used in Zulu battle, and furthermore, by the form of typically low traditional African stools. Using Blackwood, Kriel opted for a reduced, purely geometric aesthetic to give the seat a more contemporary appeal.
Over the years, he has distilled the design geometry that he began with wood and further expressed it in new mediums such as steel, stone and glass. His highly successful Vos Altar table was made in memory of his grandfather, a farmer who could fix or build almost anything with little resources. The world of industry is never far away in his work, from the conveyer-belt rubber seat of his Techno Loafer chair (which he calls a “machine for sitting”) to the exposed bolts of the Tulp table. His assemblage techniques are inspired by traditional Scandinavian and Japanese joinery, relying on tension and gravity to create balance. The result, with all of his work, is a sense of mathematical serenity.
Kriel has exhibited widely with Southern Guild locally and internationally at Design Miami/ , Design Miami/ Basel, the Salon Art + Design in New York and Christie’s biannual design auction in London, and also features in the Xigera Safari Lodge design collection.