Local creative visionaries share thoughts on art and design in Cape Town
AC Hotels, the carefully curated lifestyle brand from Marriott International marked the African debut of the global thought leadership series, AC Unpacked at AC Hotel Cape Town Waterfront on 26 September with a lively panelist discussion between local experts shaping the world of Art and Design in The Mother City.
The South African event is part of a global programme, which launched in New York City last year, and brings together Essentialists from around the world to unpack global perspective on ideas relating to Travel, Experience, Vision and Design—founding principles of the AC Hotels brand.
Roots and design
“Roots & Design” was the topic of discussion in Cape Town with focus on the importance of fostering and supporting local artistic talent, while simultaneously bringing the burgeoning scene to the world stage. Moderated by renowned local food artist and photographer, Caro Jesse De Waal, with Mark Noble, developer for the V&A Waterfront and lead on the development of the Silo District, and Kelly Berman, Head of Communication of Southern Guild gallery, on the panel, the conversation unpacked the fine details that South Africa’s design and creative community obsess over, and what allows them to live their purpose without disruption.
Mark Noble is responsible for creating and leading the development of the Silo District at the V&A Waterfront – an 80 000 square meter mixed-use development in and around the historic grain silo, which is home to the Zeitz MOCAA. Celebrated as the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world, Zeitz MOCAA is one of Cape Town’s premier cultural attractions.
Food artist Caro Jesse De Waal’s work embraces creativity using food and its sensory components as a medium for new experiences. She expresses her discoveries in nature inside the boundless area where food and art exist. Caro Jesse De Waal was the only South African invited to showcase her work at the Venice Food Design Week in 2018.
Kelly Berman is the head of communication at Southern Guild, a gallery which uncovers and showcases the very best South African designers and artists. The gallery only premiers original work at the interception of art and design, and travels iconic local works around the globe at international design fairs.
The panel also discussed how South African talent fits into the global creative landscape, and where Cape Town and local artists, such as Southern Guild’s Stanislaw Trzebinski and William Kentridge, sit within the world of art, design and creative culture.
Topics touched on during the discussion included the development of the silo district. During the development of this precinct, numerous design elements were incorporated into the building to tell the local historical story. An example is seen in the atrium space, which has been modelled off the shape of a grain of corn and speaks to the heritage of the building.
Berman touched on the importance of narrative in promoting local art. It remains one of the main criteria for the selection of local artists at the Southern Guild. Other criteria include how the pieces will interact with the global art world and how the high quality of work will showcase the talent of South African artists.
The panelists encouraged local artists to live their passion, emphasising the importance of making time to grow within their field of specialisation. Artists were also encouraged to submit their work to galleries such as Southern Guild.
‘The AC Unpacked series aims to connect with the AC guest who looks at travel as a way to nurture relationships with people, experiences, and ideas, allowing guests to mingle with locals and hear interesting new perspectives while enjoying one of AC’s signature Gin Tonics at the end of the day. Home to an unrivalled selection of African contemporary art, Cape Town is an ideal destination to debut the series in Africa and highlight South Africa’s role in creating inspirational moments and drive the creative expression,’ says Sandra Schulze-Potgieter, vice president, Premium & Select Brands, Marriott International, Middle East and Africa
As a truly global brand with more than 150 properties in 22 countries and territories, further iterations of the AC Unpacked series are planned for 2019 and beyond.
All the events are followed by an ‘Ideas Exchange’ cocktail hour where guests can foster connections with a global network of like-minded individuals.
Previous panelists in the AC Unpacked series of events have included:
• Nigel Barker, renowned fashion photographer
• Rehan Choudhry, founder of A Beautiful Perspective and the Life is Beautiful Festival
• Dan Barasch, co-founder and executive director of The Lowline
• Mayur Bhatnagar, CEO of design-focused luggage company ARLO SKYE
• Lisa Sun, Founder and CEO of fashion lifestyle brand GRAVITAS
• Catherine Smith, e-commerce entrepreneur, Plan de Ville
• Casey Fremont, executive director, Art Production Fund
• Lillian Rafson, founder, Pack Up + Go • Jeff Gordinier, Food & Drinks editor, Esquire