What prompted this collaboration - how did your brands come together?
HOMECOMING - The Collection began during lockdown in 2020 – a time during which ‘home’ came to mean so much more to all of us as a place of refuge and safety during the uncertainty of a pandemic. Lockdown not only allowed us to see our homes as places of work and play, but as we all shared the experiences we had on social media, we got to see into other people’s lives and homes - and realise that even though home is a universal idea, there’s also so much variety in terms of the different ways we all live within our formed communities.
With a lot of businesses going through a difficult time during the lockdown too, my aim with the collaborations was born out of the sentiment that we all rise together. So, inviting other makers to share their stories of home with us afforded our studio an opportunity to create work with ceramicists, textile designers, candle makers and jewellery designers, which has widened the scope of our work. The collection comprises pieces designed with a host of local brands - Jan Ernst, Neimil, Okra Candles, The Herd, The Mill Fabrics and Wolkberg Casting Studios.
What did you want to say with the new collection?
The aim of this collection was to illustrate through collaborative design, colour, texture and form that the idea of home is not only a physical place, but a feeling of warmth, comfort, peace and sanctuary. We want it to be unlike anything we have seen before by bringing together local creatives to create a community of belonging. From being surrounded by certain people, to the feelings one associates with home - colours, textures and smells. This is why we’ve included an olfactory experience via our candles designed with Okra Candle.
How does it represent TheUrbanative?
One of our driving beliefs is telling African cultural and heritage stories through design and this collection does that through the textures, forms and colour palette. All the pieces were inspired by homes across the continent – in our designs we explored vernacular African architecture from Nigeria and Cameroon, to Burkina Faso, Libya, Marrakech, Niger and Mali.
The naming of the pieces was also inspired by words that define home and its associated emotions in various indigenous languages – the Dehinineti drinks server (meaning ‘safety’ in Amharic - spoken in Ethiopia), or the Isinmi ottoman ('rest' in Yoruba - spoken in Nigeria). Naming the pieces of this collection in different languages from this continent not only allows us to celebrate those languages, people and cultures but, through this exploration, we learn more about the stories surrounding them.
Why is collaboration important to you as a designer?
When we create in communities the result is a creation that’s layered with not only the stories that we are trying to tell, but also the stories of the people crafting the pieces with us. This results in work with a more impactful and universal presence.
I believe collaboration is the future of design. If you put a furniture, jewellery and fashion designer together and task them to design a chair, that’s where the magic lies. The coming together of different ways of thinking is the secret sauce.
Find out more:
Mpho launched her brand at Design Indaba – trace the beginnings of this success story here.
Taking Afrocentric design to Milan Design Week.
QnA with women in design.
Visit her site Theurbanative.com.
Credits: Aart Verrips and Luutendo Malatji (portrait)