Fashion designer Rich Mnisi turns his hand to furniture with pieces inspired by his great-grandmother
The Nwa-Mulamula collection by South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi

Fashion designer Rich Mnisi creates furniture inspired by his great-grandmother

South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi named his first leather and steel furniture pieces Nwa-Mulamula after his great-grandmother, the "guardian figure".

The Nwa-Mulamula collection by the South African fashion designer consists of two pieces, a navy leather chaise and a seat made of the same leather that stands on a bronze base.

The Nwa-Mulamula collection by South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi

Mnisi explains that the set is inspired by his great-grandmother, who represents a guardian figure whose teachings and wisdom is passed down through the generations.

"For me, the chaise, which takes the shape of Nwa-Mulamula's body in the form of a navy leather couch, represents her presence and long-lasting teachings," says Mnisi.

"The stool, in the shape of an eye with gold puddles, represents her tears. Without her I couldn't be the person I am today."

The Nwa-Mulamula collection by South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi

Mnisi explains that when designing an item of clothing he begins with the human body. When he began designing furniture, he naturally took the same point of departure.

His first furniture collection features the same avant-garde shapes and textures as his fashion pieces. The collection is limited edition and follows a fashion collection launched last year in Lagos with the same name.

In both his fashion and furniture collections, his work is often inspired by the strong women in his life and an exploration of the ancestral realm.

"Mothers are the cornerstone of African family structures. From generation to generation, mothers are revered as fierce protectors, like a lioness to her cubs," said Mnisi.

Despite looking to his female lineage for inspiration, his garments are known for their gender-fluid quality. He often photographs the lookbooks for his women's ranges on male models, and vice versa.

The Nwa-Mulamula collection by South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi

The furniture was commissioned by Julian McGowan, the co-founder of the Southern Guild platform for collectible design made in Africa.

McGowan saw the potential for homeware in Mnisi's fashion silhouettes and fabric choices, and approached him to create the collection.

The Nwa-Mulamula collection by South African fashion designer Rich Mnisi

The Nwa-Mulamula collection was launched as part of a group exhibition of multidisciplinary designers at the Southern Guild's Cape Town Silo District Gallery.

Thomas Heatherwick's Zeitz Museum of Contemporarty Art is also in the city's Silo District. The museum, which opened in September 2017, is the largest art museum in South Africa.