The Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) competition is a highly anticipated feature in Design Indaba‘s annual programme, and this year the prestigious title was awarded to Nkuli Mlangeni, founder of textile company The Ninevites, for the Sankara rug. This woven beauty was nominated by interior designer Bielle Bellingham who remarked on its expression of Southern Africa’s modernity as well as its rich history of craft.
Wanting to celebrate the diminishing culture of traditional textile weaving, Mlangeni made it the focus of her final year studies with an extended project that ultimately resulted in the Sankara rug. This forms part of a larger series of designs by Mlangeni, executed by a team of artisans, highlighting her goal to inspire young creatives to preserve this age-old artistic practice.
We chatted to Nkuli Mlangeni about winning the MBOISA 2017 award and what’s to come.
How do you feel about winning Design Indaba’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2017?
We feel humbled, excited and grateful.
How do you define beauty and how do you think the Sankara rug references this?
Beauty for me is simple, authentic, comfortable and not intimidating. I think the Sankara rug fits this description because it is super simple, minimal and not trying too hard.
What inspired the Sankara rug?
All the rugs were inspired by Ndebele patterns and textiles used in different traditional rites of passage.
How will winning this award help The Ninevites?
It will provide us with a platform to share our story with more people, support and create employment for weavers and hopefully connect them with the markets. It is also an opportunity to showcase South African culture.
Where do you plan on going from here?
We want to focus on getting the production process right and hopefully launch the rugs at a textile symposium in the future.
Discover more about Nkuli Mlangeni in House and Leisure‘s May issue.