All images by Elle Decoration
Talk about inspirational… despite being the daughter of a seamstress, and showing a flair for design at a young age, Mpho Vackier accepted a bursary to study engineering instead. She’s gone full circle though, gravitating back to her true creative love – design. Urbanative.com is her SA-based company, for which she designs “Not. Just. Furniture.” But Mpho is “Not. Just. A designer.” either.
Would it be fair to say your design inspiration is equal parts heritage and travel (Antwerp has been an influence?) I think it’s more just visiting other countries that has been an influence in terms of how I approach my work in terms of craft, heritage and overall message. Most of the modern design elements in the work of designers I admire in Europe, such as Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon, and the States is influenced by their cultural background.
What among your designs would you consider an heirloom for your son? Of the pieces I have designed so far, the Oromo chair and the Thandeka server are heirloom worthy. They are both simple designs but I feel they speak volumes and have connected with so many people from different backgrounds.
What do you collect or covet? I am a chair collector. From midcentury classics to chairs from almost the Victorian era, I have always had a love affair with a well-designed chair.
Family is important to you. If you had to give your husband and your son a gift today, what would it be and why? The gift of travel. The more we see and learn about each other the better we connect and see that we are really the same. I would give them both that, the opportunity to travel extensively and connect with people, cultures and experiences all over the world.
What lifestyle elements are you passionate about and how you indulge that passion? I am passionate about design, art, travel and a good glass of bubbly. Luckily I get to indulge in design because I am constantly surrounded by it, having recently opened our showroom at 99 Juta (Apartment 2B) in Braamfontein with a collective of other insanely talented emerging designers. I find design, and I guess art, a universal language that is constantly connecting people and teaching us more and more about ourselves as well as the creatives who are making the art or designing pieces. I also love airports. I always get excited by the idea of travel – the fact that you will get to experience something new, see new things is the best part of travel for me.
Do you have any hidden talents that nobody except family and friends know about? I am a great event and party organiser.
If you had one day off work, what would you do? At this moment, I would sleep. This has been an insane year but one thing I don’t do well is rest. I would rest.
What so-called little things in life do you appreciate or value? I value honesty and authenticity and strive always to be honest and authentic in everything I do.
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