The Urbanative: Telling African stories through design
August 29, 20233 min read
AN EXPLORATION OF AFRICAN CULTURE AND HERITAGE
The Urbanative was founded by Mpho Vackier, a process engineer turned interior and furniture designer. She is an award-winning creative having won, amongst others, the 2019 100% Design SA Designer of the Year. Mpho believes that great, authentic design should make life better. Her work is a constant exploration of the role of African culture and heritage, along with the visibility and representation of African cultures in modern societies. Her ultimate intention is to tell African stories through modern furniture and product design. Here we explore some of those stories.
THE CONSOL INSPIRED BY AN AFRICAN QUEEN
The Queen Nenzima consol is a collectible piece inspired in its boldness by the elongated, sculptural hairstyle of Queen Nenzima of the Mangbetu tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 1920's. This distinctive hairstyle featured an oval or funnel-shaped updo finished off with an outward halo. Originally symbolic of high social status, this was considered exceptionally attractive and powerful. This is represented by the steel plate in the front of this distinctive consol.
THE THANDEKA SERVER INSPIRED BY CULTURAL GRAPHICS
The Thandeka consol/server is inspired by cultural Ndebele graphics from abstracted lines and forms. The inspirational graphics are juxtaposed against modern design silhouettes and materials. Thandeka means "one who is loved' in Nguni languages, including Ndebele.
This piece is made from solid timber with white MDF powder-coated doors. We think this piece is a showstopper in any space.
THE WAMBO OUTDOOR POD CHAIR INSPIRED BY THE MBALANTU WOMEN OF NAMIBIA
The repetition of the arched ribs of the pod chair references and celebrates the long Rapunzel-like (eembuvi-plaits) hair of the Mbalantu women of the wambo (ovaWambo) tribe in the 1900s in Namibia. The Wambo Outdoor Pod is available in four gorgeous colors: coral (featured below), palm, sand and ocean.
The customizable upholstery is made of a high performance fabric that consists of 100% acrylic and has been specifically developed for outdoor use. The fabric is mass-colored, UV-resistant and does not fade under the influence of light or sunshine. It is water-repellent and resistant to water from swimming pools and seawater.
THE AKAYA CHAIR INSPIRED BY AFRICAN VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN
Akaya, meaning 'at home' or 'home' in Xitsonga, is the name given to this multifunctional piece. The color and patterns from this range were inspired by African vernacular architectural design and the idea of home, warmth, comfort and peace as it pertains to African cultures and tribes.
This fully upholstered chair in a steel frame with a built-in side table in solid ash makes a perfect piece for cocooning. This item can be fully customized, in a range of colors and upholstery options, so you can really make it your own.
A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO DESIGN
The Urbanative products are made with 90% recycled steel and FSC certified timbers. Mpho focuses on local materials with the intention of reducing the carbon footprint of her products. Where possible, upholstery fabrics with a high rubcount and recycled yarns are used.
WHY WE LOVE THE URBANATIVE
We are always delighted to work with female creatives and entrepreneurs like Mpho Vackier. We love the eye-catching details of her gorgeous products and the way they bring African stories to the forefront of the design. Her pieces are not only show-stoppers but also highly practical and many can be customized to suit your color palette. Meaningful, functional design, crafted bespoke for you, it doesn’t get better than that.