A serendipitous collaboration led to the chair of our dreams
These covetable Leifo chairs were jointly created by designer Atang Tshikare and Eve Collett of Casamento as part of 100% Design South Africa’s recent ‘We are Cape Town’ show at Decorex Cape Town. Afrofuturistic and bold, classic and contemporary, they merge intricately woven backs with Casamento’s beautiful traditional-style upholstery.
The inspiration behind the design evolved from long winter evenings spent telling stories around a flickering, warming fire – hence the ‘burnt’ black finish on the carved wooden arms and legs, the midnight-blue upholstery fabric and the gleaming brass beading details, which represent the tiny sparks sent up by a fire as it burns.
We chatted to Atang and Eve about their latest collab.
What sparked the collaboration between you two?
Eve Collett: We were working on our pieces for 100% Design at Decorex this year, and they kind of discovered each other. My chair was looking too much like previous work I have done and Atang’s woven plate was looking very lonely.
Atang Tshikare: We were asked to take part in 100% Design and, since we both wanted to work on a new piece, it took one conversation and serendipity took over the rest of the process.
How would you each describe your design styles and why do the two styles work so well together?
E: Afrofuturism! That's what Atang calls his work, and I love it – a deconstructed, mythical interpretation of Africa.
A: Eve's chair is an antique ornamental chair, bursting with elegant character, from the copper finish down to the charred texture that embodies the theme of the collaboration. It's a one-of-a-kind beauty.
What was your favourite part of the collaboration?
E: When Atang came back from Lesotho and walked into my studio with the half-finished plate, we all nearly died on the spot. The chair became alive.
A: My favourite part was seeing the combination of styles that created this piece. I couldn't figure out whether my contribution would make a significant difference to her chair – but it did.
And least favourite?
A: It's not the least at all, but I have to say the wonder and amazement we received from the public took me by surprise. This piece has exploded into the limelight unexpectedly. I guess I'm a bit shy at the moment and the attention Leifo has created took me by surprise.
Atang, you’ve been doing a few collaborations lately (such as your Metsing table with Okha). Do you enjoy collabs more than working alone?
A: Connecting with other creatives generates a new wave of life-giving vision that expands one's perspective. There's a saying that goes, 'Land is the secure ground of home; the sea is like life, the outside, the unknown.'
Where did the idea of finding inspiration in long winter evenings come from?
E: The treatment we often use on our antique chairs at Casamento created a charred-wood effect, and the woven mat reminded me of a hearth.
A: The colour of the charred chair and the woven dial was the beginning of the conversation and all else fell into place.
What do you love most about the Leifo chairs?
E: They have opened the door for a series. I love working on these type of pieces and would love to have an exhibition one day – each one crazy and unique.
A: The combination of material, the story and the flow of the grass are just some of so many correlations and juxtapositions – it's wild.
What’s planned for the future of both Casamento and Atang?
E: We are mulling ideas around for now. I’d like to move the idea to a more modern shape.
A: We've been talking about new shapes and all sorts of possibilities. The road is open; we just need to take it a step at a time.