For almost a decade, I See a Different You has stretched open the creative playing field and influenced menswear in South Africa. The collective, founded by Fhatuwani Mukheli, Vuyo Mpantsha and Neo Mashigo, has collaborated with the world’s biggest brands and inspired up-and-comers with their signature Afro-modern aesthetic.
Recently, Fhatuwani moved into a new apartment in Joburg. If you follow him on Instagram, you might have decor envy. Ironically, he moved into his new place just a few weeks before the national lockdown. We asked him how he livened up the minimalist loft and the ways social distancing has influenced his creativity.
How have you been keeping busy during the lockdown? Have you been inspired to start new projects or relook at old ones?
Fortunately, as a business we are still engaging with some of our clients, so that takes up most my day. I'm finding that the time at home has drawn me even closer to my art, so I give myself around four hours a day to draw or work on my research to better my skill and technique.
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You recently moved into your apartment. How has it been being locked down in a relatively new space?
Moving into my place has been such a blessing – it couldn't have happened at a better time. It is honestly one of the most exciting feelings ever. Every little thing I do or add to it gives me so much pleasure, even during the lockdown.
What was it about the apartment that appealed to you initially?
I actually bought the apartment off-plan. When I first came to view the site, I was taken by the showroom which was a loft. The salesperson told me to not buy it and offered to show me the other side of the site. When we got there, it was just a broken-down building. He pointed to where my apartment would be, with no floor plan or any kind of design in mind at the time – he just said it would be a penthouse and I immediately stopped him and said I want it, just like that. With no idea how it will look like. We collaborated on the construction, and this is the result.
What inspired your interior design and decor choices when you moved in? What aesthetic and look did you want to achieve?
Pretty much everything and the aesthetic is old, from my previous apartment. I was considering holding onto the pieces until later on the year and buying everything new from scratch. But everything I moved in with, to my surprise, suited the space so well. It just cemented the idea that this was all destined to be.
What is your favourite part of the space?
I love my fireplace. It complements the living space in so many ways and adds another level of “homeliness” to it.
You have a lot of plants and bonsai trees. Why are they a fixture in almost every room?
I love plants with all my heart. I have green fingers, passed down from my dad and my business partner Neo, shares the same love for greenery. My office is like a jungle – everywhere I live has to be full of plants. They fill the space with life and positive energy.
Can you tell us about your workspace? What was important to you to ensure it enhanced your productivity, especially now that most people are working from home?
I love listening to music while I work, so the speaker was essential. I often wake up in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning when I am inspired and I like the place to feel warm and cosy, so I made sure it would be comfortable for me and close to my bedroom.
What have you been watching, reading and engaging with to stay inspired?
I've been drawing and reading a lot. Some books I've gone through are Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins, The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger and Shoe Dog, the memoir by Nike co-founder Phil Knight.