Theme: Simply Beautiful

Responding to the current global pandemic, Virus – the beauty within the chaos, is a sculpture that talks directly to this moment in time while also calling us to contemplate our connection to the earth and to one another as a human community. Standing three-metres tall, this interactive sculptural concept by Cape Town furniture designer Haldane Martin proposes the use of stainless-steel furniture for which the creator is known – 11 tables and 19 lounge chairs from his Hula and Polka collections, that can be disassembled and dispersed. “It speaks to the paradoxical role of dissemination,” he says. “The sharing of resources versus the spread of disease, for example, and is an exploration of humanity and connection, for good or ill.” The designer was inspired to create this 3D render after attending trend forecaster Li Edelkoort’s talk at Design Indaba 2020, and hearing her talk about Greta Thunberg’s impact on our collective consciousness. “In Greta’s purist world we would only buy from second-hand stores, and never anything new,” he contemplates, admitting that working as a designer means taking things out of an environment to transform them into something useful. “The best I can do is make as little damage while making things as nicely as possible so that they last. But is that enough?” he asks, admitting that his sculpture is not proposing a solution, but merely making a statement that poses questions. “We have an impact on our environment whatever we do.” Virus’s form is based on a compounded dodecahedron and icosahedron, with an open doorway, forming a seating area for either isolated contemplation or very close conversation. “Covid-19 made me think of how interconnected we are as a global society,” Martin says of the inspiration for the sculpture that he hopes will one day be commissioned to be built. “The steel I use comes from China, but it is first mined in South Africa. And the powder coating and fabrics I use are from France and Germany. So although my furniture is made in South Africa, the pieces come from all over the world. And then you think of this virus and how it’s been transmitted through global travel, and climate change that is also interdependent on everything… As a creative, one can’t help but have deeper questions you want to explore or express.” Virus – the beauty within the chaos may not be offering a way forward, but it is a powerful reminder that we are all part of a bigger picture – of the problems and of the solutions. It calls to mind the power of connected communities and our ability to collectively build a beautiful, meaningful future. 

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.