Tracy Lynn Chemaly is a writer and former Managing Editor at Condé Nast House and Garden; currently she is Special Programmes Director at The Guild Group, a South African company focused on promoting, exporting and retailing design from the African continent. She runs the annual Business of Design conference, co-founded by Platform Creative Agency; where industry experts and design professionals guide, inspire and offer practical tools to delegates. She revels in the ‘meeting of minds’ and networking between business leaders, creative thinkers and design entrepreneurs. “The collaboration that emerges from our two-day conference really excites me,” she says. Chemaly has experience in publishing and continues to feature in lifestyle publications.
Taking time off her busy schedule, Tracy discusses art and architecture with us in our Women’s Month edition of Top3Tuesday.
While freelancing as a lifestyle journalist in Beirut in 2010, I had the privilege of interviewing Palestinian artist Samia Halaby. She was 74-years-old at the time, and opening a solo exhibition of new abstract paintings at Ayyam Gallery, Beirut. Based in America since the 50s, she’s recognised as a pioneer of contemporary abstraction in the Arab world. Ever a forerunner, Samia devised a program to create kinetic computer paintings when computers were still a relatively new concept in the early 80s. Because these kinetic paintings were often displayed with live musical accompaniment, and I’m a massive fan of live music, this idea always stuck with me. I recall her saying that ‘ideas shouldn’t be hidden in sketch books’, and feeling so thankful that hers had emerged onto canvas in such brightly coloured brushstrokes. Her works make me feel like dancing – whether there’s music or not.
2High Museum of Art by Richard Meier
Sometimes flight delays are a welcome gift. Heading back from Design Miami with Southern Guild last December, one delay led to another and I landed up spending 24 hours in Atlanta, where I discovered the High Museum of Art. Despite the incredibly well-curated collection of paintings, photography, sculpture and design, I was most impressed by the architecture (although Anish Kapoor’s Untitled, a concave sculpture of mirrors that produces rad acoustic effects, was a close second). Richard Meier won the 1984 Pritzker Prize after completing ‘The High’. Renzo Piano’s later additions to the museum add a different dimension, and I reveled in the experience of straddling between two masters. I was most fascinated by the way both architects had allowed natural light in – Meier from a glass ceiling, allowing the climatic mood of the day to enter parts of the galleries; Piano from skylights that give the impression of static waves.
Hamed was part of our Design Network Africa programme for five years, and is now one of the designers we represent through Southern Guild. Based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Hamed’s studio is confronted with regular power outages. There’s also the issue of not being able to purchase ready-made hinges and handles. Why I absolutely love Hamed, is that he sees these ‘limitations’ as positive challenges. He’s always looking for new ways to do things, and so his furniture pieces – all made from disused oil barrels – are some of the most innovative collectible pieces from this continent. To me, this is what epitomises craftsmanship. Each piece is created by hand, with a passion evident the minute you meet the designer-maker. That Rossana Orlandi has purchased his work is testament to the fact that I am not alone in my admiration.
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