In 2020, she made history when she became the first South African designer ever to have her work collected by the Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, for their permanent collection. Not a trivial detail, not in anyone’s books. . . anywhere in the world, right? Revolutionary, we’d say. Again, congratulations Mash T. design founder, Thabiso Mjo! Clout SA developed and facilitated one of South Africa’s top biennial design competitions which launched and supported dozens of local design careers, and one of the first winners of the competition in 2016, Mjo described the competition as having changed the trajectory of her entire life.
As a purpose-first enterprise, creative agency, and business-to-business (B2B) market-maker for South African design, Clout SA has some noble goals, among them: the promotion of the country’s creativity, craftsmanship, heritage, and creating opportunities for collaboration between designers and makers. The agency team has been hard at work building up to this launch for nearly seven years.
The Nando’s Portal to Africa – an online shopping platform for designer furniture has facilitated more than R60 million worth of sales across 20,900 products since it was launched in 2018 – makes it one of the country’s largest exporters of South African design. There are approximately 1 200 Nando’s restaurants located across the globe from Washington DC to Dhaka, and each space showcases bold, bespoke furniture items which are procured through the Portal to Africa.
In creating interior solutions for hospitality, retail, residential and corporate clients – Clout SA’s approach foregrounds a South African design narrative as a point of distinction. For the next phase of the enterprise’s vision of growing the South African design industry and turning South African design into a globally recognised category brand, it has invited corporate partners who share these values to join its mission by taking part in collaborations with its designer-maker partners.
As part of Decorex’s month long Cape Town Design Trail programme in June 2021, an exhibition of South African art and design will open and is curated by creative director Tracy Lee Lynch, titled Right here, Right Now!
The exhibition will introduce the enterprise to the industry and invited members of the public as well as unveiling a collaboration with HUB, a platform borne out of the Spier Arts Trust which has run the Spier Arts Academy since 2009, training artisans in the field of ceramics and mosaics, as well as supporting the development of visual artists.
The HUB platforms create collaborative commercial opportunities for artisans and artists. There are already some sterling examples of what the two organisations have achieved together, including the striking serving counter of the Nando’s restaurant in Soho, London (artwork by HUB artist Henk Serfontein, that was rendered in mosaics by HUB artisans); the Potjie Server by designer Thabisa Mjo (beaded panels on the front of the server were designed by Mjo and created by the skilled Qaqambile beaders of HUB). The server was later featured as part of the Sacrosanct exhibition at Milan Design Week in 2019.
Right here, Right Now! is open from 21 June to 25 June 2021 at the home of HUB, the four-story iconic Union House building in Cape Town’s eastern district. Architectural and interior design professionals, corporate procurement agents and facilities managers are invited to join their mission to support, develop, invest in and build the future of South African design. The first three days of the exhibition will be open to the professionals, and the last two will be open to design students and limited members of the public.
images curated and styled by Tracy Lee Lynch
art curated by HUB
photography: Justin Patrick
Ceramic bench by Jan Ernst in collaboration with Vorster and Braye; Seedpod vase by Jan Ernst; Sculptural ceramic and grass lamp by Jan Ernst in collaboration with Design Afrika; Cork and plexiglass stool by Wiid Design; Blue sculpture by Jan Ernst; Cork and mosaic tray – a collaboration with pattern by Glorinah Mabaso, Cork tray by Laurie Wiid and mosaic by artisans of HUB; Terazzo table by Thabisa Mjo of Mash T Design; Carpet by Bofred; Woven stool by Bonga Jwambi; Bodulo Bench by Khosi Leteba in collaboration with Wiid Design; Floral light from recycled plastic by Heath Nash; Chair by The Urbanative; Cork pendant light by Wiid Design; Drum table with terazzo top by The Urbanative; Stool by Pedersen and Lennard; Green woven basket by Heath Nash; Cork and leather chair and cork and glass table by Wiid Design; Hand embroidered and Woven backdrop by Tamlin Blake; Teracotta console stand by The Urbanative; Ceramic candelabra by Jan Ernst; Mosaic by artisans at HUB