Design Collaborations

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Rural Collaborations

  • Frederik Molenschot

    Sleeping Swaziland, a collaboration with Gone Rural and Frederick Molenschot of Studio Molen, was featured in February 2015 at the GUILD Design Fair in Cape Town.

    Studio Molen, based in Holland, works on a wide variety of projects in which it explores the artificial and natural elements of public space and the relation to its users. The studio is known for its monumental bronze lighting sculptures, which, inspired by city lights and the night sky, visualise a vision of a future city.

    The concept of Sleeping Swaziland aims to reveal a contrast between Europe, the US and Asia, where the night sky is lit by thousands of artificial lights, and Africa, where the night’s darkness covers most of the continent; a contrast well visible on aerial photographs. The compelling difference between these parts of the world and Frederik's deep interest in Swaziland and its culture were an important motivation for this piece.


  • Dokter & Misses

    After meeting though Design Network Africa, Gone Rural teamed up with Johannesburg based design duo Dokter and Misses, to develop the woven screen series. 

    Dokter and Misses is a Johannesburg-based multi-disciplinary product design company. Established in 2007 by Industrial designer Adriaan Hugo and Graphic Designer Katy Taplin they develop furniture, lighting and interior solutions for various applications for private and corporate clients as well as educational institutions.
    Combining the clean, graphic nature of DAM design with the low-tech, handmade and textural quality of the Gone Rural aesthetic, the collaboration reflected a crossborder dialogue between urban and rural contexts. 

    After visiting each other’s work spaces and consulting on their respective processes, the structural and proportional design aspect was initiated by Dokter and Misses, while the inserts were woven by Gone Rural. Following various design revisions, sample making and colour selections, the final product was launched at 100% Design SA 2016, under extreme time pressure and the constraints of collaboration across long distance.

    The collaborative nature of the project enabled both teams to engage flexibly and experimentally, to arrive at a common design solution.


  • Ay Illuminate

    Ay Illuminate is based in Amersfoort, The Netherlands and produces its own lighting sculptures in countries such as Ethiopia and Swaziland. 
    The design team formed by Ay Lin Heinen, Nelson Sepulveda and Mark Eden Schooley is inspired by both nature and different cultures which is reflected in their use of organic shapes and natural (waste) materials combined with local handcraft expertise. 
    Gone Rural and Ay Illuminate collaborate on the lighting features made from sisal nets and recycled t-shirt cotton, handmade by the women of Gone Rural.


  • Misha Kahn

    Working at the intersection of design and sculpture, Misha Kahn creates objects whose function is masked by the unusual assemblage of objects he uses to create them. 

    Kahn designs his objects by hand with unorthodox materials such as pool noodles and fishing wire and often produces the final work through digital means, creating an interplay between the handmade and the technological. 

    Misha collaborated with Gone Rural in March 2015 and he says his experience working in Swaziland was magical for many reasons. As a collaboration it felt like the process and end result worked so well because as he is interested in achieving something that feels human, capturing a lot of character and intuitive problem solving and this is the natural state of Gone Rural. He finds that working in the US can be a challenge because everything is assembled in such a regular systematic way, so if you want to step outside that realm it can be quite hard to find people comfortable working that way, and the objects can feel more forced.  The complicated lights created could have been really daunting to make, but because of the baskets slow construction they just seemed to unfold inch by inch -- somehow the process sort of makes anything possible in its steady cadence.

    Misha says he often thinks about Zinthle, ‘the fearless master weaver’ saying ‘with handcraft, anything is possible.’


  • Imiso Ceramics

    Imiso ceramics is a design oriented manufacturing company that produces high end design commodities for the interior market, based in Cape Town, South Africa. Now led by Andile Dyalvane & Zizipho Poswa Imiso Ceramics started off with four individuals, with various backgrounds, taking measured & unmeasured risks to venture into the entrepreneurial world together.

    Imiso and Gone Rural crossed paths in 2006 as a part of the Design Africa project – and have been exploring opportunities to collaborate throughout their long friendship. 

    This year, the Shared Earth collaboration project provided them with this opportunity and they have since continued to work together on a collection which was shown at 100% Design SA. This collection, Symbiotic, explores the symbiotic relationship between the lutindzi grass growing wildy on the rocky outcrops in the Swazi mountains and the rocks which keep them grounded. 

    To learn more about Imiso Ceramics click here (link to )
    To see more photos click here (link to

  • Design Network Africa (DNA)

    Design Network Africa is a dynamic programme initiated by CKU, funded by the Danish Government and coordinated by Source SA. 

    The project links highly respected designers from East, West and Southern Africa who have been selected for their diverse voices, sophisticated and original product and unique global identities. Together they represent the vibrancy and distinctive expression of a new African identity. The programme has been designed to encourage collaboration between the designers, sharing common difficulties and solutions, mentorship and utilizing new manufacturing processes and materials in a true interchange of skills, aesthetics and narratives.

    DNA is focused on identifying the specific areas of need of each company and is an immediate and business orientated initiative, repositioning the design companies in particular, but ‘African Design’ ‘in conjunction in the worldwide retail and media arena.

    Gone Rural’s Philippa Thorne was engaged to represent Swaziland and participated in various exhibitions, one of which featured the infamous Biography Baskets, which were the inspiration for the Song of the Weaver collection.


  • Shared Earth

    A collaboration between four artisan groups using the canvas of bare earth to illustrate the synergy of varied elements in order to create a whole.

    Rock is the focus and resource for ideas around the collection. The rock shares itself. The organic earth pigments used throughout this collection are from the Swazi soil breathing the essence of the earth into each individual piece. As the grasses thrive off the minerals of this vast resource they incorporate a changing and evolving element creating a synergistic balance between the inert matter and life, establishing the harmony between stability and change.

    This collaboration, launched at MTN Bushfire 2015, brought together Gone Rural, long standing partners Swazi Ceramics and the Fonteyn Potters, in addition to Cape Town’s Imiso Ceramics to experiment and discover Shared Earth.