Photographs by Sho-Ngwana
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So goes the ubiquitous Chinese proverb. It may be a touch overused, but as with many cliches, it is popular because of the truth it holds. A truth that feels particularly significant in every single step we take here at Clout/SA, as we continue…
In February 2022, we celebrate a couple more steps taken on that journey, in partnership with our ever-expanding creative community of designers, photographers and writers.
On the 15th of January, Nando’s Design Programme creative director and Clout/SA director, Tracy Lee Lynch, trekked to Soweto with film photography duo, Sho-Ngwana (@sho_ngwana), made up of Lebogang Tlhako (@sisterbozza) and Nati Kgobe (@natikgobe), to produce an eight-page spread for House and Leisure magazine’s Autumn Issue, focusing on the work of four exciting local furniture and lighting designers.
“Sho-Ngwana were an epic team of facilitators and creatives. What had attracted me to the photographers in the first place was their style,” says Tracy about the team behind the lens, who met in 2012 and whose photography is rooted in township-focused storytelling. “They shoot on film using natural light, and this gives their images a soft focus and a nostalgic feel. There’s something gritty and fresh about their approach. It was great to meet them and work with them. We were all in such an excited mood and so happy to be in Soweto for this really special experience.”
The four designers included in the shoot were 100% Design South Africa 2019 Designer of the Year award co-winners, Mash. T Design founder Thabisa Mjo, and TheUrbanative founder Mpho Vackier, as well as Nando’s Hot Young Designer 2020 top ten finalist Sipho Twala, and Afrimodern founder Sifiso Shange.
‘I’ve always loved how products make us feel and the power they have to make our everyday experiences more vividly beautiful. My love for design grew when I started expressing myself and sharing more of my culture through my work. It gave me a deep, meaningful sense of responsibility to preserve stories through my design work.’– Sifiso Shange
“When I started out I saw myself as a bit of an underdog; an engineer who had to prove herself in an industry she knew nothing about. More than anything the feeling of being seen and sensing that the work I do is valid and necessary is a huge boost.”– Mpho Vackier, The Urbanative
The full spread is in the magazine’s latest issue, aptly themed “Build: Shaping the Future”. It was launched at the recent Investec Cape Town Art Fair, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from the 17 – 20 February; where House and Leisure magazine exhibited a curated selection of special South African furniture pieces, including the Sangu Bench design by Katlego Tshuma, the 2020 winner of the Nando’s Hot Young Designer talent search.
The bench, which was manufactured by Adriaan Hugo, co-founder of Dokter and Misses, as part of a collaboration initiated by Tracy, is just one of many locally designed furniture items that are currently available for sale on the Portal to Africa, Nando’s online marketplace for interior designers working on the chain’s restaurants around the world.
As we head towards the end of a thrilling February, we’re excited and encouraged to continue playing our part in shining a light on great south African design, as well as creating opportunities to connect designers to the local and global marketplace. As Tracy put it in the House and Leisure article: “It doesn’t matter how many beautiful things you’re able to make, if you don’t have a market for them and you can’t sell them, it all comes to naught.” Make sure to grab yourself a copy of House and Leisure’s Autumn issue to read the interviews with Tracy and the designers.