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Design Indaba 2018: Most Beautiful Object in South Africa

Designer Thabisa Mjo combines cultures and ideas for the Tutu 2.0 Pendant Light

by Karen Day
on 27 February 2018

It takes a talented eye to see where the designs of two dissimilar styles of skirt overlap, but it takes remarkable vision to incorporate those facets into that of a chandelier. Such is the case with the Tutu 2.0 pendant light, which culls and combines elements of a classic French ballerina tutu with the structural Xibelani skirt worn by South Africa's Tsonga women. Designed by Thabisa Mjo, the curious mashup garnered her top prize in Nando's Hot Young Designer Talent Search in 2015 and now this year, the award for Design Indaba’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa.

Tutu 2.0 is the first interiors product the young Johannesburg-based designer conceived and she hopes it becomes an iconic piece of design for South Africa and beyond. Having made 50 iterations for Nando’s and exhibited the lamp at both 100% Design in London and Paris’ Maison & Objet since its launch, it’s clearly on its way to international acclaim.

Constructed locally, the frame for each lamp is constructed from thin steel rods bent in Johannesburg and decorated with wool and hundreds of beads that are woven by women from the Boitumelo Sewing Project in the city’s Hillbrow neighborhood. “I consider myself more of a storyteller than a designer,” she says. “Design is the vehicle or medium I use to tell stories and my primary target market is always people whose cultures are represented in my designs.”

Images courtesy of Design Indaba

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