With support from the American Hardwood Export Council, Houtlander’s Interdependence II, Hlabisa, Preservation III and Chaste benches is on display at the BKhz Cape Town pop-up exhibition, ‘Blue Is the Warmest Colour’.
Since 2017 Stephen Wilson and Phillip Hollander have dedicated their expertise to elevating the discipline of carpentry through Houtlander. Since its inception, Houtlander has won a number of awards, while pieces from their collectable range have been exhibited in a number of places including the Rossana Orlandi Gallery in Milan, Southern Guild gallery in Cape Town, the Grand Palais in Paris, University of Pretoria’s Javett Art Centre, FNB Art Joburg and as a part of the Downtown Editions show during Dubai Design Week 2019.
All the while, Houtlander has continued to work with BKhz on projects, including Art Joburg in 2019. Their relationship serves their mutual desire to expand the world’s understanding of contemporary African art.
With support from the American Hardwood Export Council, Houtlander’s Interdependence II, Hlabisa, Preservation III and Chaste benches is on display at the BKhz Cape Town pop-up exhibition, Blue Is the Warmest Colour. While on display, the pieces serve as seating where patrons can rest in solitude or in conversation with each other as they reflect on Blue Is the Warmest Colour.
The purpose of Houtlander’s design interventions is three-fold: their collectable range demonstrates a style of design that is aesthetically pleasing and environmentally sustainable, while serving as social commentary.
With specific regards to sustainability, Houtlander only makes use of timber that is honourably-sourced, and they do this through their long-standing relationship with American hardwoods. Their availability and characteristics vary according to growing regions, but every American hardwood species is growing at a far greater rate than it is harvested. Few other countries can boast this level of success in the sustainability of its hardwood forests. The American hardwood forests support a vibrant, healthy and increasing stand of timber, as well as a large and diverse wildlife population.
Houtlander’s aesthetic is minimalist and inspired by a Scandinavian take on spindle furniture. The result is furniture with a sculptural function. With their works being almost free of screws and nails, their practice is testament to the artistry, accuracy, care and thorough engineering that goes into every piece.
Houtlander is solution based. Their team is dedicated to using every product they create as a means of research and an opportunity to develop new techniques with which to tackle their design aspirations. Touching on their design principle, Wilson says at the core of Houtlander’s practice is work that “pushes the limits of what our machines, our hands and minds can do as well as exploring the properties of our chosen materials – most prominently American red and white oak.”
Roderick Wiles, American Hardwood Export Council Regional Director adds: “Not only do Houtlander create masterful pieces in timber design and craftsmanship, but their work also has a minimal environmental footprint. As an example, we have calculated that all the American white oak used to make the Preservation Bench III would be replaced through natural regeneration in the U.S. hardwood forest in less than 1 second. Additionally, while in use, it is estimated that the bench will keep 733 kg of CO2 equivalent out of the atmosphere.”
With regards to its social function, pieces from the collectable range are meant to foster comfortable interactions in a variety of social settings by providing people with unconventional seating arrangements. Consider how the Interdependence Bench brings two people within close proximity of one another while providing a physical barrier between them. By so doing the furniture encourages intimacy and the need for boundaries.
The Preservation, Hlabisa and Chaste benches — that are part of Blue Is the Warmest Colour — also fulfil their three-tier purpose by telling stories, providing public seating and serving as a tangible manifestation of genuine sustainability.
Blue Is the Warmest Colour takes place from February 6 to 28 at 41 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock, Cape Town. A walk-about will take place on February 15. For more information visit https://bkhz.art/
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the US hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among U.S. hardwood companies and all the major US hardwood production trade associations. AHEC runs a worldwide programme to promote American hardwoods in over 50 export markets, concentrating on providing architects, specifiers, designers and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply. In addition, AHEC also produces a full range of technical publications.