Southern Guild has spearheaded the collectible design category in Africa, propelling artists and designers to make spirited, challenging, and complex work. Founded in 2008 by Trevyn and Julian McGowan, Southern Guild is based in Cape Town’s Silo District, adjacent to the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA). The gallery’s rigorous programme has shaped global perceptions of African design, exploring culture, heritage and narrative, and forging a unique vernacular in the marketplace.
The gallery premieres only original work at the intersection of art and design. Its annual collections and through-the-year exhibitions have consistently produced extraordinary work that has garnered multiple awards and caught the attention of the world’s top collectors, leading architects and respected museums and galleries.
In 2011 Southern Guild became the first African gallery to present at Design Miami, and in 2015 it was the first to be featured at Christie’s London’s annual design auction. The gallery shows regularly at Design Miami in Basel and the US, and has exhibited at other fairs including The Salon Art & Design and Collective in New York as well as Design Days Dubai. It has had work from its collections included in Vitra Design Museum’s Making Africa exhibition, Beauty–Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, and the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
The gallery has also facilitated exhibitions with renowned galleries, R & Company, Friedman Benda and Todd Merrill in New York City, further exposing its artist-designers to international audiences.
Operating at the top end of the market has enabled the gallery to set benchmarks of quality, innovation and professionalism that have influenced the South African design industry as a whole. A common thread uniting its roster of designers across mediums and methods is an abiding commitment to showcasing African materials, motifs, traditions and techniques in their work. Collectively, they have elevated the role of craft, honouring the rich indigenous traditions of making by hand whilst seeking out bold new applications of them.