Wildetecture is the creative force behind the extraordinary whale chandeliers and outdoor whale sculpture commissioned for Morukuru Beach Lodge. The Whale series was developed by the three member Wildetecture team, with Dean Hoffman as the lead designer responsible for directing the collaborative layout and design towards fabrication and installation.
Hoffman carved some time into his busy diary to tell us more about himself and this remarkable feat of design and engineering.
The whale sculpture and the chandeliers are a marvel …how did you get started in the business of design? My background is originally in structural design and then I moved into multidisciplinary fields where I developed a passion for furniture, lighting art and architecture. Within the Wildetectureenvironment I am responsible for most of the lighting and industrial design.
Your work is thought provoking – have you received International attention? I’m proud to say that I have been featured as a finalist in two international competitions, namely the Buckminster Fuller Challengewhich is an international design competition and the Smithsonian International in the publication category.
When and how did you meet the owners of Morukuru Beach Lodge – how did your relationship develop? Funnily enough they actually found me! I had been commissioned previously for a whale chandelier in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. They noticed that and tracked me down and things went from there – with the design being further evolved and developed for the owners’ needs.
Your website states “creative freedom, that’swhen we flourish the most” – describe your experience of working with the Morukuru owners and did you have that desired freedom? The beauty of being found or approached by a client like we were in this case, is that they already believed in the creativity. So this design was evolved around the space they wanted it to live in – it was a dream to work with Morukuru Beach Lodge.
What was the timeline from original brief to final installation? As with most projects in our industry – we had a couple of hiccups along the way – between weight and fabrication elements. A mock up model was developed for strength analysis but that didn’t work so we had to re- create. Fortunately all of this worked with the building schedule so I had more than enough time to redesign the concept and install.
AndréTavares, the curator of the Lisbon Architecture Triennale is quoted as saying “Architects are problem solvers”. At Morukuru Beach Lodge – what were the problems and what were your solutions? We had two projects namely interior lighting with mother and calf and an large single whale exterior sculpture. For the exterior piece we used iroko wood, similar to what they use in boat building, because of the size and unique shape of the parts, we had to use multiple planks stitched together, these connections had to be placed carefully for the interlocking pattern to maintain strength – the mounting had to be done by top rope professionals on site, was a unique fit
For the lighting piece we had to develop and test multiple material wraps and the grid design needed to be spaced effectively to allow for correct shape retaining of wrap – the design created a cubistic light element in the end.
Where you familiar with the De Hoop area before you started this project? Not at all – so it was beautiful to see the area for the first time and Morukuru Ocean House. Site visits were definitely a fun experience.
How would you describe the surrounds of Morukuru Beach lodge – in five words or less? Serene, Calm, Beautiful, Peaceful, Desolate
Did you work closely with the building designer and interior designer ? It was essential to collaborate closely with the architect and engineer regarding the mounting and with the interior designer regarding placement and amount of lighting. It was a pleasure to work with both of them.
Tell us about the materials used. Iroko is a rare hardwood which is needed for exterior use due to the harsh coastal conditions. Hand crafted plywood was used for the interior lighting piece as this worked with digital CNC machines and is light enough to mount and soft enough to cut.
Describe the installation process. For the outdoor whale sculpture we needed two riggers for a rope mounting installation and another two-man team for aligning and mounting.The indoor lighting whales required four guys and the process was tricky as the piece needed to be elevated equally using a very slow and steady installation.
What projects are you working on now? I’m in the middle of a very busy period with various product designs as well as a number of exciting architectural projects including a parametric wave pergola in Kalk Bay; a Cubistic home design in Knysna; a Viking table design in Texas; plenty of renovation jobs and an exhibition of futuristic work by end of year.
Can you list your favourite building – locally – and why? Bosjes in Worcester because the form is just so beautiful
Internationally what building is top of your list? Anything really by Santiago Calatrava! The Oculus NYC – also known as the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub resembles a winged dove but critics say say it looks like a dinosaur carcass, or even a Pokemon. I also love L’Hemisfèric which is built in the shape of the human eye and is one of the structures within the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia plus a whole range of his sculptural architectural elements.
What is your favourite holiday destination – locally? The Lesotho highlands – nature at its best
What is your favourite international city and why? Berlin – because I love the energy and off- center creativity.
Your travel bucket list: top five. I’ve been fortunate to already have ticked a few of them off – but next would be Oslo, Budapest, Prague and somewhere in Japan and South America. I travel for design and culture and it is interesting to see how closely they are linked.