It is hard to separate the South African design industry and The Guild Group. Since 2003, Trevyn and Julian McGowan, the organisation’s founders, have provided platforms for South African designers to grow both locally and internationally. These structures encompass almost every aspect needed to build a credible, robust design industry. Deliberate focus has been given to fundamentals including product development, sourcing, promotion, social upliftment, training and skills development, retail, export and thought leadership.
In 2008, Trevyn and Julian founded the Southern Guild as a platform to stimulate world-class limited-edition design. It is the sole gallery representing locally made collectible design in Africa, and has locations in Cape Town’s trendy Silo District as well as in Rosebank, Johannesburg. In 2011, The Guild Group established yet another initiative: The Design Foundation. The Design Foundation is a non-profit and sponsor funded organisation. Operating under the guidance of a board of highly respected industry professionals, every year the organisation hosts the Design Foundation Awards. These awards have come to be known as a pinnacle in the South African design industry. With a bronze gorilla, created by well-known designer Jan Otto du Plessis through the Bronze Age foundry, presented to winners, it has been said ‘LA has its oscars, we have our gorillas’.
Source: Elle Decoration South Africa
Needless to say, a gorilla has been on the mind of Sealand Creative Director, Jasper Eales, since he was a design student. When we were invited to the awards evening, we started to feel suspicious. When we received two emails on Friday making sure we would be attending, we knew something was up. We dressed for the occasion, almost arrived early, and felt inspired to see some of South Africa’s most respected designers amongst the attendees. We took our seats amongst some of our heroes and, as we had hoped, won The Maker To Market Award. The Design Foundation describes the award as:
“The Maker to Market Award recognises a designer that understands the value of brand-building and identity, marketing, consumer interaction, packaging and customer service – essentially, the many processes that take place between studio production and successful delivery to the end user.”
We are humbled to have been placed amongst the leaders of the industry and excited for what the future holds. It proves to us that we are doing good things – we have built a business based on sustainability and social responsibility, as opposed to the relentless pursuit of profit, that can, and is, working. With all milestones we have reached we have felt energised and inspired to do more. This one is no different. We will take confidence and lessons from the Maker To Market Award, and push Sealand even higher.