Monday, February 23, 2015

Monkeybiz and Haas Brothers Collaboration in Cape Town

Cape Town is a happening place for design and craft. Not for nothing was it Design Capital of the Year last year, which for me culminated in the Make It New exhibition, where beading, recycled crafts, ceramics and sculpture rubbed shoulders with cutting edge furniture and fabric design. Now we’re all looking forward to seeing what’s in store for us at Design Indaba Expo and the GUILD international design fair both starting this week in Cape Town.

I was asked to write a preview article for a Cape Town Sunday supplement interviewing a few of the exhibitors, which came out yesterday. There wasn’t nearly enough space to include the full story that Kate Carlyle of Monkeybiz told me about their exciting work and I agonised all the while as I cut it to the essence. So I thought it would be great to share it with you whole and uncut here.

Monkeybiz have been working in collaboration with cutting edge LA designers The Haas Brothers on some fabulously funky creature creations for GUILD, which opens 25th Feb till 1st March. Over to Kate to hear more about it:

A Monkeybiz bead AFREAKS creation

Monkeybiz was born in 2000 with the goals of alleviating poverty and empowering women to become breadwinners within their communities, to revive the art of beadwork bringing back the traditional method and contemporising design and colour, and the third goal has been to provide a platform for beaders to become more than crafters and enter the realm of the individual ranked artist.

Tell us about your collaboration with the Haas brothers for GUILD 2015. What was the aim for this project?
We met Simon and Nikolai Haas at the Design Indaba Expo 2014 when they were exhibiting at Guild. Our first encounter was when they came to our stand and were excited and blown away by the Monkeybiz story, our colours, designs and unique pieces.  Simon and Niki are amazing artists who find inspiration in the smallest detail and managed to see great potential for a collaboration with Monkeybiz.

The aim, certainly for Monkeybiz, in working with The Haas Bothers has been to stretch and extend our capabilities and potentials, to use techniques and methods learnt in workshops from visiting artists, and to move from the craft -only world into the Art realm. Monkeybiz is honoured to work with such phenomenal, generous and stimulating mentors as Simon and Niki, who have been incredible with their openness and extensive knowledge.  This is the first major collaboration with such prestigious artists where Monkeybiz has been given the opportunity to launch their talented beaders.

The birth of the Haas SISTAS became a reality!!

How long have you been working on it? What was the process?
We first made contact with Nikolai and Simon Haas in February 2014, when the conversation started on the collaboration. In July we were sent drawings and had our first major conversation on really getting down and dirty.  There was no particular format we could follow as the works are weird , crazy, fantastical, amusing pieces created with humour and imagination…they are called AFREAKS…Starting with a drawing we had to make frames and just start! ….the process was completely collaborative…with almost daily phone calls and photographs of our progress, so that the Brothers could give us their commentary and feedback.  Amazingly, they have been so generous to allow the Haas Sistas to use their own imaginations and interpretations to blossom through the work.

Did your beaders develop new styles or techniques for this collaboration? How much creative input did they have?
Serendipitously 2014 was the year of Monkeybiz workshops for the 450 beaders we have on our register! And two of these workshops given by two world renowned beaders were about 3D beading.  Monkeybiz has revived the art of beadwork in South Africa, where we have taken the traditional form of beading which is a flat beading technique and given it 3D form.  BUT with the workshops we learnt to bead making shapes and forms with no armatures, only with the strength of the bead and thread.

This new collaboration has extended this process to a new level ….Together with the patterns and mathematical brain of Nikolai Haas, shapes have exploded forth, and confidence for many “mistakes” have given the pieces movement and texture. The Haas Brothers have joined hands with the Haas Sistas and allowed an enormous amount of creative input from each artist with very few limitations.

How did your two very different design sensibilities work together?
Because of the mindfulness of Simon and Nikolai of the personal lives of each Sista and the particular specialities and techniques of every person, a great understanding was born for all of us. As the Haas Sistas we were excited to stretch our imaginations and try the New, the Odd, the wonderful…it has been very liberating

Is this a one-off project or are there plans for the future?
No we all have BIG PLANS for the future

You are also exhibiting at the Design Indaba Expo. What can visitors look forward to seeing there?
At the Design Indaba we will be introducing our new range of animals and creatures, Poodles, Dachshunds, Baboons and Porcupines….in stunning new colours and designs………..
The Haas Brother collaboration will be exhibited at the same time through Guild ….incredible and exciting times.

What are you waiting for?! If you're in Cape Town go and see for yourself!

GUILD International Design Fair
The Lookout, cnr Granger Bay Boulevard and Dock Rd, V&A Waterfront.
Wed 25th Feb-Sunday 1st March

Design Indaba Expo
27th Feb-1st March
And here's an interview with the Haas Brothers about the project.

Free Art and Design Week Shuttle
Travel easily between CTICC and the GUILD Design Fair via the VandA Waterfront on a free shuttle, every 30 minutes from 10h30 till 19h30. 26th Feb-1st March.

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