Porky Hefer’s work has captivated design lovers around the world and will now be accessible to a Jozi audience for the first time. Marchelle Abrahams chats to him.

He’s is the new star shining bright on the African design scene. Known for bringing whimsical fantasy to life, his pieces are beautifully crafted and functional, yet seem “alive”.

The recipient of the 2013 Design Foundation Icon Award, his Fiona Blackfish installation was recently acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. A fixture on the global design circuit, Hefer returns to South Africa for his first solo show in Joburg.

We caught up with him to talk about his work.

Many of your installations are whimsical and child-like, where do you draw your inspiration?

My inspirations come from a number of sources. One is sketching. I spend a lot of time sketching objects or forms. I try to sketch from a number of angles. In this way it actually exists – it becomes a reality rather than just an idea and you can interrogate it completely.

My sketching style was always quite childish and animated or cartoonish, rather than lifelike or technical. At first I resisted this, thinking it was a sign of immaturity in my drawing technique. But I changed tack and embraced it, and started making my real objects like the sketches.

Why do you think people are so drawn to your style?

My pieces seem to remind people of toys they had or some experience from their past. The scale of the objects helps with this.

The sensation of sitting in my suspended pieces is often likened to that of being in the womb. It’s the feeling of suspension, rather than a firm footing on the ground, as it rotates and moves uncontrollably. It’s the isolation in terms of your sight being limited and your hearing being muffled. read more