Mvelo Desk: A love story of the career-bound

Trevor Stuurman tells us why he nominated this furniture design for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2018.

African design should no longer be confined to precious craft, says Trevor Stuurman, who nominated the Mvelo Desk by Siyanda Mbele of Pinda Furniture for its ability to tell a cultural story while being a functional piece of furniture.

Mbele's biggest concern was ‘is this design conceptually-driven? Would people understand it?'. He adds, “It tells a story, it captures something.”

Mbele says he is not interested in creating things that have only aesthetic value – the Mvelo (meaning “nature”) Desk speaks to his Zulu heritage and carries literal signs of humanity. Diamond and chevron shapes are festooned along the sides of the Mvelo Desk which represent femininity and masculinity working together to create beautiful patterns.

“The reason why I fell in love with the desk is because it tells a story of how we’re all married to our careers and our work,” says Stuurman.

Mbele wanted to exemplify the way adults become married to their careers, forever bound to a desk in one form or another. According to him, it is an unspoken law of nature that the career-minded person becomes betrothed to their work life. Whether this is a positive or negative relationship is for the viewer to reflect on.

According to the designer, this project presented its own unique challenges. The peculiar shape and intricate details engraved onto almost every surface of the angular Mvelo Desk made it one of the most labour-intensive designs Mbele has created thus far – but now, his vision and hard work is paying off.

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