Pretoria-based trendsetter Mpho Vackier left her job as a process engineer in the mining industry for a role as a ‘culturally informed interior designer’. Blending ethnic heritage with functional furniture, Mpho designs under her label TheUrbanative. Look out for the pieces in her recently launched Afro-Midcentury range.
1. What/who has been your biggest influence in starting TheUrbanative? I think I am driven by the fact that something as normal or mundane as a piece of furniture can carry a message and change the way you live or work. In terms of the designers who influence me: I love the work of both Jonathan Adler and Kelly Wrestler; I love the way both these amazing designers have fun with furniture.
2. What inspires your designs? Inspired by ethnic patterns and motifs globally, TheUrbanative constantly explores how graphic cultural signifiers can be applied and reinterpreted to inspire new and modern product designs that are relatable and relevant to the urban modern citizen. Ours is a quest to continuously celebrate culture by reinterpreting it to communicate across generations, as well as across nations. By reinterpreting these cultural signifiers we discover commonalities in multiple cultural signs and therein we begin a conversation where the importance of culture is celebrated but so is its evolution.
3. What is it like designing and creating furniture in Jo’burg and Pretoria today? I love the cultural-meets-modern trends as well as the urban influences and amazing inherent energy behind local design. I also find that most of my clients are excited to try out locally designed and manufactured products and furniture, which results in authentic, original design solutions and spaces.
4. How have your products been received? We’ve received a lot of love from the public, the most common compliment being how fresh and relevant our furniture is.
5. How important is collaboration to you and your brand? Collaborations are important in that you are always learning from each other and the result thereof is original and exciting work, that is a celebration of the people creating it.
6. Can you describe yourself in a sentence? Fiercely driven girlboss.