Design Indaba Emerging Creative: Siyanda Magaba

WORDS Lindi Brownell Meiring

Design Indaba and the Department of Arts and Culture celebrated 16 years of the Emerging Creatives programme earlier this year, which gives 50 talented young designers a chance to show their work at the event. We caught up with furniture designer Siyanda Magaba to find out about his furniture inspirations and plans for the future.

You launched your own furniture design brand while you were still at university. When did you know you wanted to be a furniture designer?

The idea to start Africular came about in 2019. I started it not just as a furniture design brand, but as an interior design brand, with space planning, conceptual design and installation services attached. I completed my first interior project for fashion brand LSL, which encouraged further interest in learning and exploring practical skills. I have always been a “do it” type of person, and I see my company as a tool to educate myself in every aspect of the design industry.

Tell us about your collection.

Africular is a movement towards creating eco-efficient furniture that’s inspired by geometric African patterns. The brand is influenced by the principle of creating for a purpose and crafting unique, unpredictable characters in furniture design. Exploring and learning by doing is my design mission. Believing and looking past limitations to achieve new possibilities is the foundation of the brand. The current collection consists of four pieces, which differ slightly from one another as a result of the behaviour of the materials and the condition of the reclaimed timber. The signature V-like cutout represents the African zigzag pattern known as the “path of the ancestor”, which is an expression of the ups and downs we face in life on our path to achieving our goals.

Africular Ottoman

Biggest inspiration?

My grandfather, who taught me about hard work and determination. He inspired me to be who I am today through his knowledge and wisdom. I am also heavily inspired by the philosophies and craftsmanship of [Bauhaus school founder] Walter Gropius.

Do you have any upcoming plans you can share with us?

My plan for 2020 is to expand on the knowledge and skills I’ve obtained through my varsity years and while running my design business. The Africular project is meaningful to me – the mission is to break the boundaries of inaccessibility to African-inspired designer furniture. I plan to evolve the Africular collection to create more functional and aesthetically pleasing furniture, and create more opportunities for accessibility.

Follow Siyanda at @magaba_designs on Instagram.