Nando’s supported six local designers in showcasing their creations at the recent Milan Design Week. Displaying their work in an exhibit titled ‘Sacrosanct’, the South African designers introduced the global design community to their “afro-contempo” projects, which ranged from ceramic vases and hand-woven mohair rugs to a chair called the ‘Oromo chair’.

afro contempoAmong these was the award-winning Tutu 2.0 light. Designed by Thabisa Mjo of Mash. T Design Studio, the light won the Nando’s Hot Young Designer Talent Search Lighting Design Competition in 2016, and has been exhibited at 100% Design in London and a number of Nando’s branches around the world.

Nandos’ global franchises carry “Afro-positive” interior design that reflects the dynamism of its country of origin. The walls of each restaurant display a revolving gallery of contemporary Southern African artwork curated by the Spier Arts Trust.

Mjo’s functional lamp is a reimagining of the ballerina tutu, accrding to the designer, who says she drew inspiration from both Western and African fashion styles to make this unique chandelier. She called it Tutu 2.0 because it is an evolution of the iconic ballet outfit “mingled with hallmarks of an African counterpart, the Xibelani skirt”. Often worn by Tsonga women, the Xibelani skirt is known for its structural, tiered layers and colourful vertical pleats.

The pendant uses thin steel rods as a frame, reinforced with tightly woven strands of wool and hundreds of red and black beads. Mjo, who has experience in production design from AFDA and architectural drawing from Inscape Design School, says she sees herself as a storyteller rather than a designer. She is interested in “evoking meaningful responses from the people whose traditions and fashions are reflected” in the interior design products she creates.

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Crown Publications, one of South Africa’s largest business-to-business publishing houses, came into existence in 1986. Since then, the company has grown from producing a single magazine, Electricity SA (renamed Electricity+Control), to publishing six monthly magazines, three quarterlies, and a number of engineering handbooks.