What is Wildetecture ? Quinton J Damstra explains
Who is Quinton J Damstra and what do you do?
The creative design arena carries certain responsibilities and for me these duties include being principally an architectural design practice – QJD design studio. However I don’t limit my energy to one creative design discipline and tend to dabble across the board – a preferred creative multi disciplinary. My other pursuits are a child like experimentation with form, colour and design concepts. I feel when I’m 80 yrs old, I’m still not going to know much about the creative world around me and my abilities will still be needing vast improvement. It’s with this fascination and creative experimentation attitude that I approach each new creative design project, whether its furniture design, interiors, graphics, art or sculpture. An Arts man creative design conceptual scientist, if you will.
For those who don’t know what is Wildetecture?
The wildetects passionately pursue design ideals that are not always the order of the day – we have boldly gone where many, African continent dwellers have gone before without giving the concept or creative design procedure a term. We articulate our wild designs like a boom, boom, boom hi-ace taxi on a Johannesburg Soweto run or if you will a wild million dollar forex transaction in an Angolan bush market. We embrace Africa as Africa is right now - not as the western world would want her to be. Africa is and always has been an untameable continent and “not much that is wild is comfortable” – Dean Hoffman 2012. So it’s this edge of the seat attitude we are fervently exploring to unleash in our creative designs.
Being passionate about teaching, design and architectural draughting at academy IDT in Century City, Cape Town and having the privilege to teach sustainable building in Khayalitsha informal settlement, I find a room full of design minds a very exciting place to be. It’s very vibrant and full of yet to be realized potential. It’s out of this environment the wildetects and the concept of wildetecture was nurtured. 1 student from year 2009, Warren Hoffman and 2010 Dean Hoffman, both display a freakishly wild creative design ability and its always refreshing to see their interpretation of the client design brief. As the wildetects believe in approaching the client with 3 individual proposals, with the preferred client, design being the design we all wrap around eventually. The last wildetect client brief we had, Warren nailed it even though Dean’s and my proposals where pretty strong. This stung a bit, but Warren’s concept was really brilliant.
In a nutshell when one visits an informal settlement there is an unmistakable energy in these communities. And it’s this collective energy that wildetecture is keen to harness and experiment with creatively in our built environment. It’s trying to tap creatively, my experience of living and working in Africa with that of others living and designing around me.
Wildetecture is the pursuit of wild fauvistic African design –
The attitude of the fauvists really resonates with us - wild colourful unchecked brush strokes on canvas – so we coined fauvistic – I don’t think it’s a word – but then nor is wildetect or wildetecture. This wild attitude permeates Africa; one just has to try going against the morning rush hour traffic in any of our northern border African cities. All lanes in and out of the city are completely blocked with one way traffic in - none of these 3 lanes in and 3 lanes out with 1 car on. When one goes into an informal settlement it’s like stepping from a world of classical music and afternoon tea to pulsating loud drum beats. The energy is significantly different. It’s trying to, in a small way harness this energy into something creative.
The Pray Mantis chair is an impressive piece of work, what inspired this work?
During a particularly black dog mood – one of the many mantises that visit me in my office was sitting on my computer screen, seemingly watching me. I started off with a huge mantis building with the shapes I saw in front of me. However, a chair was by far the more tame option to put before anyone. The mantis home and building will follow. Making a pray mantis form comfortable is now the challenge. Shape and form is the easy part
In your opinion, how do you see the growth of creativity progressing, if there is any?
Opinions can and are very dangerous at times - however as Africans living on our dynamic continent – our creativity is directly proportional to our confidence – and as a collective design culture we are fast becoming more confident in what we have to say and our unique African creative abilities. And it’s listening to the soft small voice, whilst the loud shouting washes over us. It’s very sad and true that most sensitive creative minds are bullied into submission by critics before ever reaching their potential. As we know everyone is a springbok coach until they are actually given the job – then it’s an unforgiving occupation. I liken being a design idea creative much the same. So it’s really for us to have the confidence to push through this creative critic barrier and design for oneself rather than anyone else. You might surprisingly find one or 2 people might even like the creative work we do when the dust settles.
What is the Wildetects working on currently?
We are busy with a school and a few exhibition stands and furthering our wild out of Africa furniture range and built environment ideals.
To this date what project would you say you are most proud of and why?
Being part of the team that created the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Centre phase 1 in Green Point Cape Town 2001. Learning from Chris Brown architect and personally drawing up over 900 drawings for this project before it was completed. There is something special about being part of a team and working on big projects – for me it is much more satisfying than creating individually. That is why I enjoy interacting with the fellow wildetects, thinking creatively is a team effort and it is to my mind why we were designed. To work together as one organism is what South Africans are doing very well.
For those who are looking to do what you do, what advice would you give them?
You will have many folk tell you unequivocally that you shouldn’t be near a pen, pencil, cad machine, design project – and you for your part must listen to the soft small voice, whilst all the loud shouting washes over you. Develop the confidence and a tough thick creative skin like an African wild animal. And most of all have pure and simple fun within your chosen creative discipline or just simply dabble in them all. You must work on improving your creative communicative skills like drawing. Sketching, painting, 3d modelling and draughting. And then using these skills to spend as much time conceptualising a future you would love to live in. I’m sure the top artists always feel the next work is going to be the best, as they strive to unleash on the canvas what’s in their minds. It’s never ever the same, however as we improve our skills we slowly reduce this creative communicative chasm. The creative mind skill conundrum.
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