Siviwe Jali, a finalist of Nando’s Hot Young Designer (HYD) Talent Search 2020, was recently awarded the Best New Talent prize at Decorex Cape Town 2022 for being the most prominent new voice in the design world. Jali’s work formed part of an exhibition of past and current designs by the various finalists and winners of HYD since its inception in 2016.
Clout/SA’s director, Tracy Lynch, curated the bold, eclectic retrospective exhibition at 100% Design Africa, which was co-located within Decorex Africa Reimagined at the CTICC in Cape Town. Many of these pieces, including Jali’s three, were brought to life through collaborations between emerging designers and established designers and makers initiated by Clout/SA. Jali’s pieces include Nokhanya Lights, Ntsimbi server and Cupisa bench. The lights are a collaboration with Ashanti Design, the server was brought to life with the assistance of TanDesignSA and the bench is made by Pedersen + Lennard.
Jali founded the Durban-based industrial and product design consultancy uMugqa Studio in 2018. With a clear line (uMugqa means line in isiZulu) drawn between identifying a problem and solving it, uMugqa Studio aims to put functional, social design on a pedestal.
We asked Jali some questions about his design process, where he gets his inspiration and what’s up next.
Q Tell us a bit about yourself.
A Well, my name is Siviwe Jali and I am an Industrial designer from Durban. An extroverted introvert, design nerd and coffee connoisseur. I grew up in Durban for most of my life, where I spent most of my childhood at the beach and running around with my friends getting up to mischief. My hobbies include reading, listening to music and podcasts, watching movies, and designing and making things. I can’t sit still – always tinkering and doing something.
Q How did you get started in design?
A I was always interested in arts and crafts as a kid, but the spark really started in
primary school when my older sister started studying graphic design and I saw that I could create a path for myself in this type of field. When the time came to choose a career in matric, I wanted to do psychology. I was short of a few points for that, but could still apply for design school. The funny thing is that objects like furniture affect one’s psychology, behaviour and health.
Q Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
A A lot of places – from personal experience, observation and a lot of curiosity about mashing up my interests. People are also a huge source of inspiration, as is my culture.
Q Tell us about the projects you’re most proud of and why.
A The Kwena Square bench and bin project I recently did was really good. The Nokhanya Light with Ashanti is another special project because I worked on that design for years, and partnering with them really took the design to the next level. And, of course, the Ntsimbi server because of how quickly it came together. I had never designed anything like it before.
Q What’s your creative process?
A Lots of research; I am very strict about doing the best research for a project. Sometimes I look into data and research for days before I start to design. I use quick sketches when I start to conceptualise, then move into more detailed drawings. Then I go on to CAD and quick renders, and if things still don’t make sense or I need to feel the object, I will create a prototype. None of this is set in stone, sometimes I jump around and patch things together.
Q What’s your dream design job?
A The dream job would be a social impact project that benefits an underserved community and also results in some form of profit. That very narrow trade-off where capitalism is being used for good!
Q What was the best part about the HYD 2020 competition?
A The best part about being part of the competition was the opportunities that came from the experience – I saw an increase in inquiries and business opportunities.
Q What have you been doing since being a finalist in the Hot Young Designer 2020 competition?
A I have been working on my practice, which is an industrial design consultancy, and am also developing a range of products.
Q Do you have some exciting upcoming projects or collaborations that you would like to share?
A The Nokhanya Lights collab with Ashanti Design is something that I am very excited about. Developing the Cupisa bench with Pedersen + Lennard has been a masterclass on how to streamline a design for production. Everything else I am working on is still in development and so I have to keep it hush-hush.
Q What would your top piece of advice be for anyone looking to be a furniture designer?
A Learn how to see details: observe how people use objects and be obsessed with understanding how things are made. This will lay the foundation. After that, remember to have child-like wonder and play a lot. Also, try to come up with an opinion and point of view for life that bleeds into your work. Interesting people create interesting work.
Clout/SA continues to actively market Jali’s pieces on the Nando’s portal to Africa and to other businesses as well as offering the designer business and creative direction as his practise evolves and grows.
Discover more from Clout/SA here: https://clout-sadesign.co.za/
See more about the Nando’s Hot Young Designer 2020 competition here: https://clout-sadesign.co.za/nandos-hyd-announces-2020-finalists/