September 24, 2020 2 min read

 

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.


Image of ZenZulu yellow woven baskets as home décor products. ZenZulu baskets, plates and vessels are available at Sarza home goods and furniture store in Rye New York.  

   

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.

 

Image of ZenZulu yellow black and white bowls, home décor products. ZenZulu baskets, plates and vessels are available at Sarza home goods and furniture store in Rye New York.  

 

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. 

 

Image of ZenZulu blue and white woven baskets as home décor products. ZenZulu baskets, plates and vessels are available at Sarza home goods and furniture store in Rye New York.

 

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).

 

Image of ZenZulu black, white and blue woven baskets as home décor products. ZenZulu baskets, plates and vessels are available at Sarza home goods and furniture store in Rye New York.

 

WHY WE LOVE ZENZULU


Isn’t it amazing to see a mundane item like telephone wire elevated into something so beautiful? We love ZenZulu’s fusion of contemporary design with traditional craft skills. Seeing the time-honored Zulu weaving tradition used to create unique, one-of-a-kind crafts for our customers’ homes is such a joy. Additionally, your purchase from ZenZulu helps provide skills, mentoring and job opportunities in vulnerable communities.  

 

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All images courtesy of ZenZulu.