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In conversation with Neimil co-founder Keneilwe Mothoa

A House & Garden exclusive with afromodern design and lifestyle brand, Neimil, about the art of sharing unique African experiences through considered creations

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By Amy Saunders | January 21, 2022 | Innovative

In 2018, South African creatives Keneilwe Mothoa and Lubabalo Mxalisa launched Neimil, a design and lifestyle brand focused on telling authentic African stories through design and photography.

Since then, the duo has produced a clothing collection featuring beautifully textured considered pieces and collaborated with H&M Home on an exclusive home collection.

Picture: Keneilwe Mothoa and Lubabalo Mxalisa with the NeimilxHM collection, Supplied

Below, we chat with co-founder Keneilwe Mothoa about the NeimilxHM collection, inspiration for their creative direction and what we can expect to see from Neimil in 2022.

What was the conversation that led to the formation of Neimil and has the journey to where you are as a partnership and a brand now been anything like what you anticipated?

Keneilwe: The becoming of the brand was sparked by our love for design and photography and how best we could share it with the world essentially. We also wanted to prove to ourselves that we could create something that other people would grow to love and appreciate.

Is the success anything we anticipated, yes, by all means, I think we are at a point in our lives where everything that we do is done with intention, we put our all into whatever it is we are doing and things fall into place.

How do you describe your signature style?

K: I would say afromodern best describes our style. We are about celebrating our heritage and our place of knowledge by implementing design features that resemble things we have learned, seen or experienced while ensuring that people from all walks of life can love and celebrate the product we offer.

Picture: Neimil’s Montsho Bow Dress
Picture: The Benya Bag by Neimil

What was the inspiration behind the NeimilxHM collection? Is it a limited collection or one you plan on building on?

K: The idea for the collection is derived from one of our pieces called “Batho scatter”. It is a collection about bringing people together and celebrating the differences we have as people. Hence, the multi-coloured pieces that have human-like silhouettes. It was a limited partnership but the collection will be ongoing and we do plan on expanding going forward.

Picture: The Batho Scatter Cushion by Neimil
Picture: Elements of the NeimilxHM collection

Who are you currently following that informs and inspires your creative direction?

K: Currently it’s not a specific person(s) but rather a search engine and very informative trend forecaster WGSN. It’s a great source of information and inspiration as it keeps us updated with things that are happening around the world in terms of trends. We also follow design pages like 100% Design, Design Joburg, clout_sadesign and Dulux to name a few.

If anything, what would you like to see change for African creatives in the art and design space?

K: I would really like to see cross collaborations, across different design disciplines, across countries, we are stronger when we work together and we are the ones to change the narrative on African art and design. Let’s include each other and trust each other with bigger budgets and bigger ideas.

What can we expect to see from Neimil in 2022?

K: An expansion of our product offering in homeware and fashion, just inclusion of other decorative objects as well as hopefully creating a unisex range. We can’t forget collaborations as well, more of those.

Picture: Keneilwe Mothoa and Lubabalo Mxalisa, Supplied