Future Heirlooms: Seven Designers Explore Sustainability At Always Welcome

Future Heirlooms: Seven Designers Explore Sustainability At Always Welcome

Future Heirlooms presents seven new pieces by seven South African designers created to encapsulate themes of sustainability, longevity and quality created in partnership with the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), designer collective Always Welcome, manufacturers and designers Houtlander and timber importers BOS Timbers. 



Always Welcome and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) announced Future Heirlooms, a project to explore the future of sustainable South African design, in July 2022. Fast forward three months, and the group of seven South African designers from 3 provinces across the country have created a series of works that not only look forward to the future of sustainable design, but also explores their own heritage and the story of South Africa’s rich design legacy.


Created in American red oak by celebrated hardwood furniture designer-manufacturers Houtlander and timber importers BOS Timbers, the seven pieces — by Dokter and Misses, MashT Design Studio, TheUrbanative, Kumsuka, Kalki Ceramics, Joe Paine in partnership with Nathan Gates, and Nøde Studio — are a celebration of material and memory, and ask pertinent questions about our approach to the environment, says Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.



“We need to end our current throwaway culture and we need to use materials that have a low environmental impact. These issues should affect all our day-to-day decision-making. Designers, especially, have a huge influence on how products are planned and with what materials. This project was the perfect platform for us to work with accomplished South African designers and makers, whilst also helping them to work with an abundant, versatile and beautiful, yet lesser-known American hardwood species.” 
- Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director 


For the designers of the show the project has offered a unique opportunity to explore alternative manufacturing methods, and the beauty and versatility of American red oak itself. “The material intrigued me from the outset of Future Heirlooms. I became fascinated by the seemingly endless possibilities of American red oak itself that, coupled with Houtlander’s special ability to work with timber, set my imagination alight and I just had to see what could be made,” says Thabisa Mjo, founder of award-winning Johannesburg based product and furniture design group MashT Design Studio of her participation in the project.


The seven pieces will be exhibited at the Always Welcome Viewing Rooms in Sandton, Johannesburg, until November 2022, and will then move to the new Always Welcome Heritage House in Cape Town in January 2023.

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