Laurie Wiid van Heerden established his award-winning studio, Wiid Design, in Cape Town in 2013. Often working collaboratively with other artists and across a wide variety of materials, Laurie’s product range spans furniture, lighting, tableware and collectible objects that combine specialist manufacturing with handcrafting.
The studio has become well-known for its innovative use of cork in high-end product design, architecture and large-scale production manufacturing. Recognised as an African “ambassador” for cork by Portuguese producer Amorim, Laurie has pushed the boundaries of the material to achieve a number of world “firsts” – including the world’s largest cork pendant light and cork cabinet, both of which have been exhibited by Southern Guild.
Back in early 2017, AHEC invited Laurie to be a part of its Seed to Seat collaboration. Given an open brief and asked to design ‘something to sit on’, seven South African designers created seven unique pieces using American tulipwood, red oak, soft maple and cherry, which are less well-known American hardwood species in South Africa. This was the third edition of Seed to Seat, which was initially launched in Australia in 2016 and then in Dubai in early 2017.
In response to the brief, Laurie created the Meraki Daybed, using cork and American soft maple. This was the result of a decision to create African furniture in combination with more modern geometric shapes. The shape and concept for the headrest were derived from research based on the Senufo people of West Africa. The carving was a focal point which emphasizes the importance of the handmade aesthetic, as opposed to only machine manufacturing. Cork was also used as an alternative to upholstery, where the emphasis is based on sustainability in combination with an unconventional material.
On the newly-developed Meraki Occasional Chair, Laurie says: “When we originally finalized the concepts around the Daybed, we envisioned to have a larger collection. The same inspiration applied, where we placed our focus on the handmade, African aesthetic”.
The same materials – American soft maple and organic and completely recycled light cork – are also used for the Meraki Occasional Chair, which is also manufactured in Cape Town. Further plans for the Meraki collection include a side table and a stool.
Photo credit: Wiid Design