This Friday, July 31st, Creative Mornings Cape Town is honored to host Trevyn McGowan to discuss the concept of Collaboration in Design.  We asked her some questions, via email, to get the juices flowing!  Join us at 8:30 a.m. this Friday to see Trevyn in person!

Julian and Trevyn McGowan, Photo Credit © Jac de Villiers

CMCT: This month’s Creative Morning’s theme is “Collaboration.” After doing some research on your projects, including Source, Southern Guild and Guild Design Fair, it is clear to me that you and Julian thrive on collaboration. Can you share how you and Julian came to be such revolutionary design collaborators in the first place?

TM:  Julian and I love working together. We gel really well and complement one another in the way that we think and react. It’s a real collaborative enterprise. We don’t do anything in our businesses without discussing it and brainstorming together. That we’re both really passionate about local design helps immensely, as well as the fact that we’re drawn to the same pieces. Julian comes from a theatre design background, and I owned an interior design firm in London before we moved back to South Africa, so our interests have always been in this creative field.

CMCT:  When you created the Southern Guild in 2008, what were some of the challenges you faced?

TM:  Design was still really young in this country, so creating an awareness and interest around it was our biggest challenge, as was nurturing and mentoring the designers to go further than they had been before, to believe in their vision and to take the quality and originality as far as they could.

CMCT:  Who are some of the South Africans who inspire your work? Why?

TM:  Gregor Jenkin was our original designer and formed the beginning of Southern Guild, our collectible design gallery. Our first international exhibition was a solo show of his work at Design Miami. We’re also incredibly inspired by Porky Hefer (who did an incredible collaborative piece with Peter Mabeo from Botswana for GUILD), Andile Dyalvane, who is making great waves around the world, with a major international exhibition scheduled for next year, and Dokter and Misses, another wonderful example of how husband and wife can collaborate well in a design environment.

CMCT:   I’m sure you have many pieces of art and furniture throughout your home. What are some of your favorites and why?

TM:  We have a Gregor Jenkin table in our dining room that moved with us to Cape Town when we relocated from Wilderness last year. Our family spends some of its most memorable moments around this incredible piece of furniture. We’re also privileged to own three pieces by Babacar Niang, the uber-talented wooden furniture designer from Senegal who passed away this year. His fellow Design Network Africa designer (a programme we run across East and West Africa), Hamed Ouattara, has a Watt Watt cabinet, made from recycled oil barrels, that graces our entrance hall. Our Serge Alain Nitegeka artwork, and Conrad Botes collection also hold special places in our home.

CMCT:  We always love to ask our CM speakers what keeps their creative juices flowing. What keeps you inspired way down here at the tip of the continent?

TM:  Collaboration! People from around the world are looking to Africa for inspiration at present, and are drawn to collaborate with our designers. This is incredibly stimulating for us. We saw it at GUILD this year - at the international design fair we hosted in Cape Town. We had designers from Lebanon creating work in conjunction with Imiso Ceramics and Bronze Age; and The Haas Brothers from LA realising their Afreaks series with Monkeybiz and Bronze Age; then the collaboration with Porky and Peter Mabeo mentioned above; as well as Frederik Molenschot from The Netherlands collaborating on a massive weaving installation with Swaziland’s Gone Rural. Helping to coordinate these collaborations is extremely rewarding for us.