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TheUrbanative Goes Even Bolder With The Nenzima Server 

Designed and released under the African Crowns collection, the Nenzima server from TheUrbanative is an homage to African female power. 

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Nenzima Server | House and Leisure

Newly launched under the African Crowns collection, TheUrbanative’s Nenzima server is designer Mpho Vackier’s boldest work yet.

An homage to Queen Nenzima, formidable ruler in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the first decade of the 20th century, the overall form and woven detail is inspired by the distinctive look of the elongated heads of Mangbetu women. (The elongation is a result if the cultural practice Lipombo; a status symbol among the Mangbetu ruling classes.)

African Crowns first launched at Design Joburg in May last year, and work began on the Nenzima server a week later. ‘We hadn’t felt ready to release it until April this year,’ says Vackier. ‘My aim after launching the collection was to explore different and fun materials. We discovered Notation Design stone, which, when matched with the custom colour palette and wine red powder coating, achieved just that.’

Formerly a process engineer in the mining industry, Vackier is inspired by the clean functionality of Mid-Century Modern furniture and the design philosophies of the Bauhaus movement. She juxtaposes function with vibrant geometric patterns and colours seen in African artwork and graphics. ‘Culture and heritage are important in that the more people learn about other cultures, through whatever medium, the more we gain an opportunity to understand one another and connect. It’s one of our driving forces as a design team: to use our pieces to connect people at a deeper level.’

‘The more work you put out there as a designer, the more confident you become, or more aware of the kind of designer you want to be and the kind of work you want to create.’

After attending Milan Design Week for the first time, Vackier gained a renewed sense of expression, inspired by the work of designers on a global level. ‘I’m allowing myself to be bolder with TheUrbanative’s design direction, whilst remaining true to what the brand is about,’ she says. 

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Vackier’s transition from metallurgical engineering to furniture design is among her proudest achievements. ‘I'm delighted that I’ve been able to do both, and have the amazing experiences that both careers manifest.’

Her background in engineering and problem-solving has influenced her credence to create functional pieces; a mesh of form and function. ‘Functionality drives form. If we make functional pieces with a story, they not only have a beautiful backstory that people can connect to, but can also solve specific problems. It’s a win-win!’

Nenzima Server | House and Leisure

For more information about TheUrbanative and the Queen Nenzima server, visit theurbanative.com.

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‘The inspirational story of the Nenzima server dictates how it looks. I’ve evolved to let the piece be what it wants to be, look, or feel like in order for it to be authentic.’