Southern Guild: A Gallery with a Difference

Southern Guild was established by co-founders, Trevyn and Julian McGowan as a forum for South African designers to challenge and support each other, unified by national origin, but with diverse views and voices. The collection over the years has built a solid reputation for being innovative, having excellent standards and very fresh perspectives. South Africa and Africa are recognised as being very focused on craft, the hand made and the narrative, and at a collectible level, Southern Guild designers all produce in this way.

As the sole gallery representing South African limited edition design, many international curators and critics hear the unique voice South Africa brings to the world through Southern Guild’s diverse products. According to Trevyn McGowan, “we offer something grounded in social and political realities, a narrative, a true bond with nature and a sense of human connectedness. We have far less interest in trends or in the highly polished, technologically driven visions of design prevalent elsewhere. South African design elicits an emotional response, asmuch as it invites you to think. Craft is very old in Africa, but design is very young. Part of the global appeal of contemporary South African design is that it’s unfettered, imaginative and energetic. In the established world of collectible design, South Africa has something very new to say.”

Southern Guild is well positioned and recognised in the global market for their unique designs and products. In particular, there is a rapidly expanding global arena for hand-made limited edition design, fetching record-breaking prices at fairs and auctions. The category is highly sought after by museums and collectors, and in the past decade this field has grown considerably – measured by the increasing number of museum exhibitions, international design art fairs and attention from major international auction houses.

Southern Guild designs have been exhibited internationally at major design fairs including Design Miami/Basel, Collective and Design Days Dubai. Co-founders, Trevyn and Julian McGowan also launched the inaugural GUILD fair earlier this year in February during the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 events.

Ijeoma Loren Uche-Okeke is Omenka magazine’s Johannesburg Editor. She worked for over 3 years as the arts projects manager at Gallery MOMO in Johannesburg. She has over ten years of professional experience in the arts and culture sector as an administrator, curator and facilitator and worked actively as an arts and culture manager in both the creative and performing arts sectors in Nigeria, and more recently in South Africa. She has a BA (Hons) in Fine and Applied Arts, a PGD in Arts and Culture Management, an MA in Heritage Studies and postgraduate certificate in Environmental Policy from the universities of Nigeria, Nsukka, the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Bard College in the United States. She currently serves on the Board of the Dance Forum, the initiators and organizers of the Dance Umbrella Festival, and is the Regional Network Development Manager of the Visual Arts Network South Africa (VANSA) Steering Committee.

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