Q&A: Yanni Vosloo
MRP Home’s merchandise director, Yanni Vosloo, discusses the MRP Home Colab project and HL’s Night Market:
As MRP Home’s Merchandise Director, you’ve seen some pretty incredible designs the world over. What do you think makes the MRP Home Colab project special?
The magic of our collaborations, besides the fact that they are beautiful, sits in the approach we take in the development of the ranges with the artists we work with. It is and always will be exactly what the name implies: we collaborate in a win-win relationship, rooted in mutual respect and with the vision to delight our customers with great South African design.
How did the Colab Collection come about and how has it evolved over the years?
Very interestingly, the germination of Colab stems back to when we were involved with House and Leisure’s Young Designers competitions some years back. My biggest frustration at the time was that we didn’t get to produce any of the fantastic designs for mass-market retail in our stores. Democracy of design is something I feel very passionate about, great design should not be elitist. That became the driving force in the conceptualisation of Colab.
The initial editions in November 2012 were multiple ranges from a few artists, each focused on a different product type, which evolved into coordinated ranges from a single designer, often taking their style into product types they had not worked with before. This was a big success with our customers as well as taking the design partners out of their comfort zones.
The latest evolution of Colab saw us working with designers each independently doing a design for a single product category, some of the proceeds of which are then donated through our MRP Foundation. The first was our immensely successful Blanket Colab in 2014. We were delighted that the Mia Widlake blanket was included at the inaugural ‘100 Most Beautiful Objects’ at 100% Design South Africa last year.
It remains popular with both those who represent MRP Home as well as consumers.Why do people react so positively?
The project is honest, real and sustainable. Colab promotes local talent on a national scale and exposes artists to the challenges of mass-market realities and the real challenges of affordable design. At MRP Home it’s a natural extension of the design journey we have been on for the past 10 years and I’m delighted that all our regular product is the work of our in-house design team.
How do you go about selecting creative to partner and collaborate with?
Adrienne Sparks, our trend and design manager, and I are focused on selecting designers who are relevant in the context of South African design, have shown consistency in their body of work and are the forerunners of emerging trends, represent an individual aesthetic and are open to new ideas and ways of doing things. Our instincts have been correct and we have an almost 100 per cent strike rate.
For the first time MRP Home will be showcasing a Colab Collection at HL’s Night Market. Why has MRP chosen to partner with HL in Cape Town?
The HL Night Market provides the perfect platform for us to interact with our design-savvy customers who are keen HL readers in an intimate environment.
Why do you think it’s important for design conscious South Africans to support local?
Supporting local design is clever, as design is often the germination point that leads to increased commerce, job creation and above all self-sufficiency.
We can’t wait to see what MRP Home does next! Can you give us a little insight into future projects and collaborators?
We have an exciting line-up for the balance of the year starting with Mia Widlake’s Heroes range in September, a range of Beach towels in Colab with artists from The African Art Centre in November, followed by a range of rugs and pouffe’s from an exciting mix of new collaborators for Christmas.
See MRP Home's Colab Collection at the upcoming Cape Town HL Night Market!
For more info or to see the current Colab collection visit mrphome.com