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Décor Sep 27, 2022

Spotlight: Modern Gesture

Modern Gesture believes that in each piece created  a story is embedded into its materials, capturing the time and care engaged in the creation of each item . A winner of  UK small business Corporate Vision Awards. This practice ensures that each piece holds its own unique characteristics.


A winner in the Sunflower Fund 2011, Nando’s Hot young Designer 2nd place Finalist 2016, Glamour magazine Woman of the Year for 2018 in Art & Design and has recently been awarded by Corporate Vision UK, the Small Business Awards 2022 – Best Lighting & Homeware Design Business – Western Cape.

Throughout the process there is a constant conversation happening between the hand of the designer and the material being formed. Each product is designed to engage our attention and draw us into a space to encounter sensory experiences.

This conversation leads to a deepening of ones-self, a more personal engagement with the material and its final design. It allows for a new approach to quality, innovative design and simplicity. However, it still holds international appeal without losing its local relevance and sentiments.


Handcrafted to Perfection

Handcrafted Ndebele Jewellery is known for its beauty and quality. Inspired by these beautiful beads with which men and women adorn themselves, the team from Modern Gesture scrutinized the actual structure of the African beaded necklaces which led to the design of the Woven Necklace Lampshade.

“I was inspired to use structural elements to design this lampshade. As wood is my main material, I tried reinterpreting this layering of flowing Ndebele bead work into a more fixed structure but not lose its African feel. The design incorporates traditional African bead colours black and white which create a strong contrast and statement in the design as well as other common favourites blue and yellow. These colours can be replaced with other custom tones that complement different interior colour palettes.”

An African necklace is made up of spiralling rings. The lamp embodies this shape through the use of wooden rings, a representation of wholeness and timelessness. Each layer of the lampshade is adjustable to any required angle. Furthermore, when all the layers are aligned, it can be easily flat-packed for storage and packaging purposes.

Engage and Explore

The cognitive process of the necklace lampshade involved observation, experimentation, and conversation with materials.

“While perceiving the prototype necklace lampshade from different perspectives, I chose to focus on the section of the patterning and used it to enhance the design. Through experimentation I found myself fusing craft and machine in the creation of the lampshade. I chose to use wax thread to weave in between the wooden rings creating a web-like or geometric patterning.”

As African crafted jewellery is made by hand so are the woven lampshades. The design of the lampshades encourages viewers to engage and explore the light through sight and tactile experiences.

Each ring of the lampshade fits within each other. The reason for this important element in the design is for shipping purposes and to subsequently reduce plastic and other packing materials, which can land up on dump sights, if not recycled. Furthermore, the lampshades are coated with a water-based varnish which is eco-friendly. Wax thread is then reused where possible in the weaving of the lampshade as well as in the packaging and labelling.

The Woven Necklace Lampshade has thus inspired a range of other products in the Modern Gesture range. It has also subsequently found new ways to use our off-cuts of wood to inspire new products. What we like about this design is that one is able to adjust the rings of the lampshade to any required angle. In that way, the customer in their own way becomes the stylist of their own unique light piece.

Check out the full range online at Modern Gesture.

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