Unison Movement designing leather goods that stand out exhibited at the Design Indaba 2014. The brand develops leather products for day to day use and functionality. The Unison Movement brand developed by Gideon Naude in August 2013 is growing to be a brand that will stand the test of time. Gideon born in 1983 and says since he can remember ‘I’ve always been intensely aware of my physical and spiritual surroundings, which made me very quiet, shy and observant as a youngster.’ Kwantutu Arts Magazine got a minute to chat with the creative and his journey to become a creative force in the leather products industry. Gideon had this to say.
Although being asocial I felt a great boldness to discover the world of nature and science, in contrast to my parents who, being teachers, were more socially and culturally inclined. As I went through secondary school my interest in technical subjects grew and the idea to start a business became appealing while helping my older brother with his leather- and woodwork business. After considering my career options I decided to study metallurgical engineering because I believed that it would give me a sound technical background from which I could design materials and products.
By the time of graduation in 2005 I had the perception that I am prominently analytically inclined, but earning a salary gave me the freedom to discover underlying aspects of my character that I never had the opportunity to attend to. Through friends and experimentation my interests in cultures, food, music, craftsmanship, fashion, art and lifestyle developed significantly and I discovered my talent for woodwind instruments, namely oboe, saxophone and recorder. On the other hand my career in the corporate world became increasingly suppressing to my character and I realised that the only way for me to experience fulfillment was to start my own business. I came to the conclusion that I am not only analytically inclined but also prominently intuitive, and that I will only be satisfied applying both mindsets collectively. That is the alphabet that I need to construct the sentences of my life so that it makes sense.
As a consequence, I applied for a severance package during May 2012 and stepped out of the gates of my employer on 12 June 2012. The very next day a musical term called ‘unison’ came to mind. It is used when two or more instruments are playing the same tone at the same time, even though they might be distinctly different in construction, register or sound. The term is also used in performance arts when two or more dancers are performing the same movements simultaneously. The following year was spent compiling workshops with the ability to process and finish leather, wood and metal, three materials that I love forming, seeing, feeling and smelling. And to me the idea of collectively applying these three disciplines connected to the concept of unison. The more I thought about it the more I could see it happening throughout not only my life but also in South Africa. Can you think of any country in the world where Western, Eastern and African cultures coexist while clinging to their roots, without destroying each other? I don’t know any, besides RSA. And, as I see it, the past twenty years has been a process of cultures increasingly living “in unison” and mutual respect. And therefore, symbolically, I decided to add the idea of a “movement” to the company name. That way it will represent not only the state of, but also the journey towards unison. And in the context of Unison Movement my goal is to create, recreate and restore a quality lifestyle by combining the beneficial qualities of leather, wood and metal into durable accessories that compliment contemporary expression. My love for different cultures, especially African, will also feature in subtle and perhaps poetic ways, so don’t expect stereotypes.
Subsequently the business was registered in August 2013 as Unison Movement (Pty) Ltd and an application for trademark registration was filed during November 2013. The Unison logo comprises of an “n” placed on a “u”, which is the first and last letters of the word “unison”, enclosed by a circle. Circular forms feature prominently in the product designs since most of the manufacturing processes used involve rotation. It also represents the smallest and largest forms of matter (atoms and planets) as well as cycles and continuity, which tie to the interests of the company in conservation.
The first products were launched during November 2013 at the Irene Village Market in Pretoria, South Africa. A month later the company exhibited at the Neighbourgoods Market in Johannesburg and found its way up to the Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town during February 2014. I chose to start with markets and exhibitions because it enables me to personally interact with and educate customers as the designer and manufacturer, and the demographic of visitors are widespread. Currently the interest and awareness of the brand are growing and I’m looking forward to filling the gap for contemporary leather goods and developing new products that stand out.