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HL Next Level 2018: Product and Furniture Designer Thabisa Mjo

From her evocative earliest visual memory to her cool new drinks cabinet, product and furniture designer Thabisa Mjo takes us into us to her world.

Trevor Stuurman

Thabisa Mjo | House and Leisure  

If you didn’t hear about product and furniture designer Thabisa Mjo after she won the Nando’s Hot Young Designer competition in 2016, you really couldn’t miss her this year when Design Indaba voters named her Tutu 2.0 light the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa. She has just opened her own showroom at the uber-trendy 99 Juta development in Braamfontein and released the Potjie Server drinks cabinet, which, she says, is ‘beautiful but in a strange way’ – our favourite kind of loveliness.

5 Minutes With Thabisa Mjo

How did you get started as a designer?

I studied at the School for the Creative Economy (AFDA) where I majored in production design. Then I won the Nando’s Hot Young Designer competition in 2016 with my Tutu 2.0 light.

Did you always want to be doing what you’re doing now?

I always wanted to tell stories and the medium through which I tell those stories now, is design.

What has been your defining career moment to date?

My Tutu 2.0 light being named the Design Indaba 2018 Most Beautiful Object in SA.

Any creatives on your radar right now?

Sakhile ‘Sash’ Cebekhulu; the kid is a beast.

Where do you find your inspiration?

From my world: friends, family, childhood memories.

What is your earliest visual memory?

The iridescent colour of the reflection of the sun on water as my mom did laundry outdoors on Saturday mornings.

Which single place would you recommend people visit, and why?

The Guggenheim Museum in New York City, there’s no place like it in the capital city of the world.

What’s the most memorable piece of furniture you’ve ever seen?

My new drinks cabinet, the Potjie Server. I’ve never seen anything quite like it – in the best way possible, it’s one of those things that you have to keep going back to, to look at again. It’s beautiful but in a strange way.

What are you working on at the moment?

My focus is on my showroom at 99 Juta in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. It’s a space that I hope will help me meet my customer and hear directly from them what sort of furniture they want in their spaces, and what I can design that will facilitate better living in their own homes.

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