Zulu and Ndebele patterns on solid wood desks

These two new pieces by Siyanda Mbele show a distinctive step in his creative journey, searching for ways to bring tradition into contemporary design.

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The Ndalo coffee table and the Melo desk are the two newest pieces by South African product designer Siyanda Mbele. Both made of solid oak, they are inspired by the patterns and symbols of Zulu and Ndebele culture. They show a clear step forward in his journey as a designer, trying finding a place for traditional African aesthetics in contemporary design.

The Ndalo coffee is inspired by Ndebele patterns: it’s a mix of Mbele’s previous Nandini and Pinda range, which he launched as a Design Indaba Emerging Creative in 2014. The geometry of the coffee table is kept extremely simple so it can fit in any interior space. 

“As much as the design is kept simple, the signature corner detail which makes the oak top look like its floating adds the Pinda touch,” says Mbele. “In the Pinda range I used sheet metal which was bend, this time around I wanted to see how I can take tubing and interpret it with patterns.”

The concept for the Mvelo desk is derived from how people are married to their careers, the amount of time and days spent using a desk. 

“I made an analogy using the Zulu symbols and Zulu chevrons; the form of the desk represents both masculine (triangle) and feminine (diamond). What interested me the most in the Zulu symbols is when two symbols are joined together whether triangle or diamond they represent a union. I translated that union as people being married to their desks/ and careers,” explains Mbele.

Each symbol is incorporated in the function and form of the desk. The open triangle V shaped (Drawers) allows the user to leave books open at a certain page, slide down pens or pencils; pile up rolls of technical drawings. 


Apply to be a 2017 Emerging Creative here.

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