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Lighting Jun 7, 2021

Designer Spotlight: Meet Thabisa Mjo From Mash T Design Studio

More than just a designer and entrepreneur, Thabisa Mjo from Mash T Design Studio is passionate about preserving traditional skills and helping other small businesses. We chat to Thabisa about her latest collections, inspiration and the importance of creating an authentic brand that provides opportunities for others.

Tell us about your journey as a creative designer?

I think the journey has been a series of little moments and opportunities that will one day result in a scalable design business providing income-generating opportunities to local craftsmen and artisans, furnishing your home in beautifully made and functional products that bring joy and delight to you.

Any new collections that you are presenting to the industry?

Yes, we’re excited about the Alfred light, a collaboration with telewire weaver, Alfred Ntuli, Elizabeth Joubert of Tin Lab design and the African art centre. The lights are all woven in telewire, which is an art form that gained popularity in the 1960’s after Zulu night watchmen would use scraps of wire to weave around their sticks. Alfred is best known for his lidded pots which actually are quite restrained when it comes to pattern. Working on this scale with this much pattern was a new challenge for him, one he absolutely rose to meet.



What is your favourite piece in your collection?

Alfred’s light. And of course, the Tutu, it just doesn’t get old.

Tell us about your main source of inspiration?

Hmmm… inspiration is everywhere, as cliche as that sounds, from people to architecture to nature, fashion. I’m always open and ready and eager to “see” something in the world around me.

What most fascinates you in creating your designs… form, texture or colour?

Form. I always start with the form, then how will this thing be made, how will it function and then colours and patterns are last

Tell us more about your involvement with Nando’s?

nando’s are great supporters of MashT. They were the first customer, actually, they bought a whole bunch of Tutu’s and put them around the world. amazing.

Do culture and tradition play a strong role in your design collections?

It does yes, as would anyone’s lived experience influence them, I think. I also use design as a vehicle to share stories and to share our cultural traditions and of course, the immense crafts we have here in SA.

What words of advice can you share with upcoming designers?

It helps to have a point of view. remain consistent and get your work in front of your potential customer as much as you possibly can.

Which designers inspire you?

So many, I love designs that are beautiful in their simplicity, paired back, like Oki Sato of Nendo. I love beautiful craftsmanship like that found in Peter Mabeo’s work.

Describe your personality in three words?

Giggly/nervous laughter, eager and committed.

More about Mash T Studio

Mash.T Design Studio creates award-winning furniture, lighting and accessories. The studio brings together technology and traditional crafts to tell uniquely South African stories, using the medium of design.

Thabisa Mjo has subsequently designed full product ranges and won several awards, thus securing her name as one of the continent’s top design talents. Most recently, she has become the first South African designer to have two of her works, the Tutu Light and Mjojo Cabinet, installed as part of the permanent collection at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs (Museum of Decorative Arts) in the Louvre.

Tutu Light

Furthermore, be sure to visit Mash T Design Studio.

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