South African design: 5 minutes with Mpho Vackier

We chat to Mpho Vackier, Creative Director of The Urbanative, about what to expect from her standalone exhibit at Design Joburg

Mpho Vackier

How would you describe your product/style?
Our furniture is defined – and differentiated – by the juxtaposition of abstracted ethnic cultural graphics and motifs combined with mid-century silhouettes. We’re all about the celebration of culture and design. Our first range is inspired by cultural Ndebele lines and forms, especially the artistic works of Esther Mahlangu.

What can visitors expect from you at Design Joburg?
A sophisticated and modern take on African inspired products and furniture.

Thandeka server

Can you tell us more about any new designs that you may be launching at the show?
We’re currently exploring adding some multi-functionality to our furniture without compromising on the true essence of the pieces. We’re excited to be introducing smaller pieces such as side tables and hopefully some softs like fabrics and rugs.

What do you love most about local design?
I love the stories and energy behind locally designed products. There’s a vibrancy and authenticity to the way South African designers approach their creative process. There’s also a strong culture of community.

Buumi barstool

What does your home look like?
Our home is a collection of different pieces of furniture, from inherited antiques and mid-century silhouettes to a few Urbanative pieces thrown in. Our style represents our story; my husband is Belgian and I am Tswana. Despite the apparent differences there is still harmony.

Who are your favourite local designers right now?
Gosh there are so many. I love everything by Atang Tshikare and have been a fan of Haldane Martin since Design College, his Songololo sofa is timeless.

What are the top trends for 2017 that you’ll be embracing?
I am exploring sustainable timbers, eco paints and eco engineered woods. I am thrilled that cork is a trending material, we’re hoping to have a couple of cork designs at the show.

Can you tell us more about your design process?
Pattern is everything! I love finding pattern in everyday things that may not at first be obvious. I am keen on reimagining 2D items into functional 3D objects. My process is guided by my engineering background. If I don’t have my sketchbook with me I use Post-it notes, my office is covered in them.

How does SA design differ from the global scene?
SA design is at a point of creative restlessness. We’re finding more and more creatives using the rich cultural background of the continent to guide their creative processes. There’s a confident reconnection with our culture, legends and history, resulting in authentic, dynamic and unique products that are relevant to a contemporary local and global market.

What can’t you live without right now?
My sketch book and my support structure (family and friends), sleep, my phone and my portable charging block.

Get all the Design Joburg info here.