In the June 2017 edition of House and Leisure, we highlight four creatives who exemplify the freshest South African design talent. Read an extended Q&A with one such rising star – Chuma Maweni – below, and get your copy of our latest issue for more.
According to Maweni, his ceramic-design career started when he was a kid playing with clay. In 2016, he began his company, CM Maweni, through which he hopes to produce ceramics that encapsulate who he is as an artist, and who he strives to be.
Describe your work. My work is surprising to people and sometimes even to myself. I’ve seen someone get goose bumps just by looking at one of my pieces. I guess it’s the shapes, clean lines and textures that excite people.
What are your favourite materials to work with? Clay. It is an extraordinary raw material and one of the few that can be used for different reasons.
When you were six years old, what did you want to be? At the age of six, I wanted to be a doctor simply because my family had a doctor who was very caring to us. He inspired me to want to care specifically for children. I think that is why I love working and teaching young ones about ceramics.
Who inspires you? I’m inspired by anything or anyone around me. It can range from an unknown artist to the most famous, a tiny seed from a tree to an immovable mountain. Even the many cultures in South Africa, with the amazing colours and beadwork, inspire me.
Where in the world do you most like to be? I like being right here in Cape Town. It’s one of the most beautiful, inspiring and creative cities in the world. I also like to be in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape where I grew up and life is simple.
Do you think there is such a thing as South African style? South Africa is a very diverse country with many vibrant cultures. Knowing what we know about the different styles we have, it is not easy to say this is ‘South African style’. I think only people from outside South Africa can say that.
What is your best time of day? Any time when I have accomplished a goal that I had set for the day. It can be an artistic goal or a personal accomplishment.
What’s really ugly? I don’t think there’s anything ugly simply because we as artists can turn things around and transform something into the most gorgeous object.
What is your favourite building in the world? The Cayan Tower (former Infinity Tower) in Dubai. Its twist is what interests me the most.
Do you have a design hero? Architect Zaha Hadid. Her elegant and complicated designs are some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. She has broken a lot of design boundaries, which is something that I want to achieve.
What can’t you live without? My wife and family – that’s where my strength and inspiration comes from.
Watch this space for more design newcomers.