Bulbous, dangling, and rough with texture, South African designer Porky Hefer’s works look more like giant bird nests than furniture for people. But rest assured, they’re every bit intended to be inhabited—front, back, upside down, or whatever feels right to your body.
Debuting this week at the New York City gallery R & Company, “Heart of Lightness” gathers seven of Hefer’s latest creations, a collection of cozy “hermit shells” and one jungle-gym-like “leopard branch.” The title of the exhibition, a riff on the Joseph Conrad classic Heart of Darkness, hints at how the designs, born of traditional South African materials and techniques, can awaken our instinctual, childlike responses to the natural world.
Each piece is handmade, often by trained artisans from the Cape Town Society for the Blind, and involves steel frames dressed in woven rattan, raffia, or leathery skins. All but the leopard branch offers cushioned, womb-like spaces awaiting a body to take shelter.
Interest piqued? Hefer’s pieces are available for purchase—prices upon request.
Heart of Lightness is on view at R & Company through February 23.