Kumsuka (evolve your space)
Johannesburg, South Africa | Wood: red oak
Siyanda Mazibuko is a South African, Johannesburg based furniture designer, maker and artist who obtained a wood furniture course with Furntech, where he did his training and incubation and established his practice in 2016. Mazibuko is one of Design Indaba 2016 class of emerging creatives and participates in the 100% design South Africa exhibition yearly. His activity in the design and art space led to an invite from Palazzo Litta gallery in Italy, to showcase his work at the Cultura Milano Focus Africa 2018 Exhibition. Most recently, he is one of the top 15 creatives of Business Arts South Africa. Occasionally commissioned for a diverse scope of custom made designer furniture, his work is inspired by a combination of culture and nature through the lens of energy in motion.
‘I take ideas from an object – in this case isicholo. When I look at it I think: “How can this become a functional item?” And that thought is very much part of the piece that I end up making.’
The design process
To create his bench, Mazibuko has drawn on a combination of indlamu, a Zulu tribal dance practiced in celebratory ceremonies, with isicholo, a women’s hat that developed out of a 19th-century conical hairstyle and is worn as symbol of married status.
The making of the final piece
To begin with, Mazibuko considered making the piece from American cherry because it was light weight, meaning the bench could be picked up easily and moved from show to show. However, he eventually selected red oak. ‘It’s quite strong and very attractive,’ he explains. As the piece was going outdoors, the red oak was thermally modified, or baked. ‘Red oak isn’t a timber that’s naturally durable outdoors,’ explains Benchmark co-founder Sean Sutcliffe. ‘It wouldn’t survive outside because it would be subject to microbial attack – from bugs and beetles.’
The end result
Mazibuko elected to design his slatted, double-sided, bench because, he says, ‘it reflects my culture itself, creating a sense of unity where we can sit together in a common space and enjoy conversations’. Engaging with other people is an intrinsic human trait,’ he says, citing this as the reason for his design, a modular, layered seat imagined for public spaces.