IT ALL STARTED WITH TELEPHONE WIRE AND A PASSION FOR TRANSITIONAL DESIGN
Designer and ZenZulu founder, Marisa Fick-Jordaan, is passionate about the development of African crafts and transitional design. This gave her the idea to start a telephone wire weaving project in an informal settlement outside Durban. After initially mentoring a growing group of weavers using a coiled basket technique, she soon saw the possibilities of fusing traditional Zulu weaving techniques with cutting-edge design and modern industrial materials. Zen Zulu was born and Marisa’s vision was clear; to grow local and international interest in high-end, handmade décor products.
BRINGING THE VISION TO LIFE MEANT OVERCOMING SOME INITIAL CHALLENGES
Like many new businesses, ZenZulu had to overcome some initial startup challenges; having only two skilled weavers in the required technique, one basket mold, limited material supply, and design concepts that proved to challenge even the most masterful of weavers. Marisa was determined. Funding for skills development was secured, a mold manufacturer sourced, and a wire manufacturer coerced into making shades of fashion colors to specifications.
PROVIDING SKILLS, MENTORING AND SUSTAINABLE INCOMES
Central to ZenZulu’s ethos is sustainability and social upliftment. The products are eco-friendly and fairly traded. Since day one, unemployed women from urban and rural areas in Africa are mentored, provided with intensive skills training and taught how to weave. Today, this creates sustainable incomes for more than 350 home-based craft producers in four different communities.
A SOUTH AFRICAN DESIGN CLASSIC, WINNING INTERNATIONAL ACCLAIM
Renowned for fusing bold African design with high quality craftsmanship, ZenZulu’s distinctive vessels, plates and baskets have become South African design classics. The brand has become an international success, receiving numerous accolades and awards, including an Elle Decoration International Design Award. ZenZulu products have been shown at design biennale and fairs around the world and included in cutting-edge exhibitions such as the Global Africa Project (Museum of Arts and Design, New York).