Southern Guild represents South Africa at the inaugural London Design Biennale at Somerset House, presenting a new installation of work by iconic designer Porky Hefer titled Otium and Acedia. The Cape Town designer’s suspended animal cocoon environments offer a fitting portrayal of the biennale’s theme: Utopia by Design, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Moore’s book Utopia.
Porky’s work, all crafted by hand at Woodheads leather merchants, is a fantasy-scape consisting of five animals: ‘M.Heloise’ (manta ray), ‘Crocodylus Eugenie’ (crocodile), ‘Lolita Blackfish’ (lover whale), ‘Piranha 1: Nerina’ (piranha) and ‘Panthera Leo’ (lion).
“There’s an enormous amount of fantasy, joy and self-expression in South African design,” says Southern Guild co-founder Trevyn McGowan, “and Porky’s creations manage to take this even further by reimagining a world filled with playfulness and liberation. They’re experiential and transformative and encourage you to see a different universe.”
For Porky, otium, the Latin term for leisure time, means stepping away from daily systems and mechanisms to engage in more artistic and enlightening activities, while acedia (a state of listlessness) references the decreasing physiological activity in an animal, usually during hibernation, that conserves energy for survival.