Gilgamesh is a design collective based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Established in 2010 by Carl Ascroft and Shane de Lange, the collective functions as a loose, collaborative group of individuals from varying backgrounds, scrutinizing the notion of good design at street level. Gilgamesh is a call to action, aimed at creative individuals who want to transgress commercial boundaries in art and design, helping to introduce cultural integrity to the urban environment.
Gilgamesh is neither studio nor agency; the closest analogy being that of a ‘collective’. There are no employees at Gilgamesh, everybody is equal, with all contributing designers treated as residents. Each resident gets a share in profits, exposure, and credit for their contributions, based on the belief that all creatives need to work together to build a better socio-economic and political environment, despite any differences in field, discipline, or fraternity. On a formal scale, Gilgamesh’s premise sees no distinction between art and design. This follows from the huge gap that has developed between architects, artists, designers, and the like, which hampers social growth in favour of gaudy design that lacks ethical merit or aesthetic grounding in order to generate capital. Given the current socio-politico situation, particularly in the third world, capitalism is sustaining nothing, thus Gilgamesh veers towards a socialist awareness, trying to find a balance between image and content in design at grassroots levels.