WORDS Gareth van Niekerk PHOTOS Sarah De Pina
A contemporary look at traditional forms comes to life in the new line of smaller goods by award-winning Joburg-based design house, Mash.T.
Mash.T Design Studio, founded by Thabisa Mjo, recently launched its first line of ceramics, taking the brand into the world of smaller (and, we predict, hugely collectable) home goods. The colourful Presents From Joburg range of vases, planters, platters, fruit bowls, shakers, side plates, dip bowls and candleholders has been spun, in true Thabisa fashion, in a contemporary language that showcases the designer’s expressive use of colour, pattern and shape.
Presents From Joburg came about at a quiet time for the studio, while operating during the pandemic, and now stands as another testament to Mash.T’s ongoing collaborative approach to design. After initial design work on the range, Mash.T began a partnership with
Cape Town-based ceramic artist Aleri Odendaal, who worked from her home studio during the lockdown. “Most of our communication with Aleri took place on WhatsApp,” says Thabisa. “A similar thing happened with our new Bright Light sculpture, also created during the peak of the lockdown. The beader who worked on the sculpture – Neliswa Sigwela of Qaqambile Bead Studio – told us that working on the Bright Light gave her family the opportunity to see, for the first time, what she actually does!”
Mash.T recently made headlines after the studio’s Tutu 2.0 light, a woven and beaded pendant lampshade inspired by the xibelani skirts worn by Xitsonga women, was acquired by the Louvre Museum in Paris for its permanent collection. The light, which was voted the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa in 2018, has since been installed in restaurants all over the world.
But Thabisa hopes the more affordable ceramic items will open the studio’s offerings to new audiences, who might not be able to acquire her larger pieces just yet, but who still want to own a piece of the Mash.T brand. “Not everyone can get our pendants, even though they might share our values and identify with our design language,” says Thabisa. “So we want to make Mash.T products more accessible. And it’s why Presents From Joburg is launching with items centred around serving tools. We want to foster the idea of community, and of coming together at the end of the day to share a meal. It’s about treasuring the moments spent together around the dinner table.”