Welcome to Out of This World
We want you to enjoy your visit to our pages and hope you find our pieces both beautiful and inspirational. What you’ll see here is a great selection of the very best pieces chosen from a variety of bigger collections, all picked for their good form, attention to detail and authenticity – in line with our own unique criteria.
It’s all about the intensiveness of the labour that has gone into the piece and the level of craftmanship that is evident. In this day and age, it’s amazing and gratifying to see that such levels of craftsmanship still exist.
Everything is hand-made, to start off with. But not only that, it is evident that it is the highest level of handmade product that you can get from the various regions.
What we look for are smaller accent pieces for interior decorating, things that are designed just to kind of “trigger” some kind of imaginings about what that thing could have been, or what its purpose was. Generally, it will be a piece that is going to be from a very different context to the pace that it ends up in. This trend gives a bit more definition to all the fancy, minimalist, slick environments that urban people live in.
The original root of Out of this World started with Paula Vith, Peters mother, origintor of Out of Africa which was originally founded back in the 70’s whose wide travels engendered a love and admiration for the rich treasures to be found on the African continent. Paula's vision led her to establish and cultivate trading ties with communities there. A real innovator, she was one of the first people to bring tribal art and furniture to South Africa.
Out of Africa was eventaully sold and Out of this World opened its doors by Paula’s son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Sue Vith. The couple has travelled extensively themselves, nurturing and establishing relationships with suppliers in Africa, India and Oceana. As a result, they have strong bonds and connections with traders and suppliers who bring collections to their warehouse in Cape Town, from which they are able to hand-pick the best pieces available.
“For our African pieces, we have a very steady group of traders who we’ve dealt with for 20 years, who know what we’re looking for. They spend up to six months travelling through a lot of these regions, collecting things. These traders can get into fairly inaccessible, far-out places that would be difficult for us to visit ourselves. They, in turn, have their own networks there and generally do a better job of collecting there than we could realistically do these days,” says Peter.
“Obviously when it comes to India and the East, we travel to these places and source the pieces ourselves. Bali is a kind of fairly-well recognized central point for collecting,” he adds.
Where In The World?
The region that we source from is broadly called Oceana, which is pretty much the whole of Indonesia, and also areas like Borneo, Sumatra and Papua New Guinea. There is still an abundance of interesting craft that comes out of this region. When we choose furniture from this region we look for good quality wood – old seasoned wood that will last forever. The Javanese furniture in particular is normally really good quality teak – either genuine old pieces in good condition or new pieces manufactured from old wood. Either way, the style is generally traditional with simple, elegant lines.
From Africa, we tend to look for accent furniture pieces of a utility style, such as stools and small tables. We source vessels from east and north Africa or any of the dry, arid areas where wood is scarce. The wood that grows there is normally very hard and durable, and the utility items that are crafted from that wood eventually become really nice artifacts because they generally stay with the nomadic tribes for a long time. When you look beyond the piece itself, you can imagine a whole history behind it – it’s exotic and great for décor.
In east Africa, we source from Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia. We also choose pieces from Ruanda, Malawi and from South Africa, where we get simple grass-work and beadwork.
In central Africa, you’ve got the rain forests with a plentiful supply of wood, and that’s where you normally get really fine pieces such as detailed mask and other carvings. West Africa is probably one of the most prolific regions for masks, statues, statuettes and fetishes. In Congo, for example, tribal ritual still plays a very big part in their whole way of life, and the whole ancestral element is intrinsic to their culture. So you get many reliquaries (vessels containing spirits of ancestors of a family used to communicate with them), totems and fetishes coming out of there.
We get our pieces primarily from Rajasthan in the north of India, which tends to be dryer climatically. With its rich heritage, lush forests and colourful culture, Rajasthan is often portrayed as one vast open-air museum. This area is famous for its textiles, old furniture and architectural pieces and well-preserved relics. We visit this area personally to look for and choose pieces that fit our particular style.