What is it about bronze we prize so much?
Perhaps it is the medium’s durability or the intriguing alchemy of its creation. Maybe it is the inherent contradiction of a material that possesses such tremendous tensile strength, yet lends itself quite seamlessly and beautifully to capturing the most expressive of gestures and minute details. Whatever
it is, bronze has historically captured the public imagination like few other materials and it continues to captivate.
Driaan Claassen is a Cape Town-based, South African designer whose timeless bronze works exquisitely showcase the sensuality and strength of the material
all at once. Inspired primarily by nature, Claassen’s bronze pieces play on duality and contrast, be it in form, patterns, textures, heft and scale. A solid seven-foot geometric bronze bench quietly drifts into open space, dissolving before our very eyes. Gleaming, polished, smooth surfaces are peacefully juxtaposed against the intensity of a black, highly textured ore, revealing a deeper, multi-layered story of the forged bronze.
Beyond the tangible, Claassen’s bronze works are also characterized by a certain quietness – a refreshingly restrained refinement that tells us just enough about
a piece, its function and the material from which it was forged. Stripped of the verbose, what consistently emerges is an elegant commentary on tensions – the constant tension between light and dark, smooth and textured, weight and heft, form, function and meaning. Claassen is a designer engaged not only in pushing the boundaries of creativity and utility, but ultimately engrossed in a quiet and intense study of the material itself.
We had the privilege of meeting with Driaan in Cape Town to discuss his work with bronze, the challenges and creative opportunities the material presents and of course the meaning behind it all.