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hl next level 2018: architectural designer minenhle ntuli

Trevor Stuurman


Architecture, says Minenhle Ntuli, has always been the only thing he’s really wanted to do. Having graduated from UKZN in 2013, he practised as an architectural technologist for two years before signing up for the 2016 edition of SABC3’s popular Win A Home competition – during which he created interiors for an apartment in Paarl that are, he says, one of the highlights of his career to date. Minenhle is currently finessing the furniture designs he created earlier this year, and we can’t wait to view the results.

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

I might have not realized it back then (blame self-doubt) but I can confidently say yes, I am doing what I have always wanted to do. After high school I only put ‘architecture’ down as the course I wanted to study – I could have added five other options but didn’t. That shows how certain I was of the path I wanted to take, and I am happy to say I made the perfect choice.

do you have particular favourites among the projects you’ve done?

I would say the apartment in Paarl I designed for Win A Home is currently my favourite, simply because it pushed me a lot as it exposed me to not only interior design and project managing, but also furniture design, which led to collaborations with Siyanda Mbele and Guideline Design. Furthermore the involvement of major brands like Caesarstone and Plascon was highly eye-opening for me and gave me ideas for future collaboration with brands in design.

what has been your defining career moment to date?

Not renewing my contract at my first job after working for two years. This was a crucial decision I made and understandably wasn’t well received by those around me. Worse I too didn’t have answers but it just felt right. During this time I got into photography and graphic design just to make a living, which taught me a lot about myself, and especially about how I would like to place myself in the creative scene. This period showed me how strong I am as a person because I really had to dig deep.

who are the creatives on your radar at the moment?

Kornilios Victoria, Masonwabe Ntloko and Zama Shozi.

and the artists you look up to?

There are many, but to name a few: Trevor Stuurman, Okmalumkoolkat, Donald Nxumalo, Siyanda Mbele and Laduma Ngxokolo. I believe they have created successful authentic, sustainable and relatable brands and a majority of black South Africans can relate to their stories. I would say they epitomise a space I would love to be in, in the near future.

where do you find your inspiration?

Anywhere and everywhere but to summarize it, I am inspired by authenticity, selfless support and confidence. While chasing my dreams in an honest and authentic manner, I am met with selfless support from people who have confidence in me, which in turn gives me the confidence to move forward.

what is your earliest visual memory?

Sketching roses in primary school for Mother’s Day cards and sometimes crushes. Thereafter, cutting out a heart in the centres of the cards as a relief. Thinking about it now it’s quite amusing, but I would say that’s my earliest visual memory in my creative journey.

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

Sigh, I have this massive obsession with travelling, which I haven’t done yet. Nonetheless I would say the first museum of contemporary African art, Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, because I think it’s highly inspirational in multiple ways. The building is an architectural masterpiece and it houses relevant African content.

what’s the most memorable art exhibition you’ve ever seen?

Andile Dyalvane’s Idladla ceramics collection exhibited at GUILD. I found the balance between traditional techniques, material play, meaning and modern aesthetics quite striking. Left the exhibition space inspired and proud.

what is the next project that you are working on?

I am currently finessing my first furniture piece ideas, which I exhibited earlier this year at Design Indaba as part of the Emerging Creatives programme. I can confidently say this is my favourite work to date as it represents what believe in and stand for and mostly importantly will showcase my versatility. Parallel to this I have a few residential and commercial retail jobs in the pipeline back in Durban, which are also quite exciting.

Learn all about the game changers who are taking things to the Next Level in our #HLNEXTLEVEL2018  issue.