In our hyper-consumerist world, designers have a social responsibility to find innovative methods, ethical practices and benevolent approaches to their creative process. We honor these 6 African creators on the front lines of Sustainable and Eco-friendly Art and Design. They have actively taken steps to reduce any further damage to our beloved planet and give back to their local communities.
LRNCE is a niche décor and lifestyle brand working out of studio in Marrakesh. Founded in 2013 by female artist and designer, Laurence Leenaert, the brand brings a collaborative approach to sustainability through combining their imaginative designs with the century-old techniques from Marrakech’s local craftsmen. Leenaert has form a close knit bond with the local artisans and willingly experiments with their various methodologies of craftsmanship. LRNCE creates exquisite handmade interior décor and accesories through repurposed materials and is steadfast on sourcing and producing all product in North Africa. LRNCE has a environmentally conscious production process, they strive to mitigate waste, source dyes locally and mix pigments with the glue from trees.
Follow LRNCE on Instagram: @lrnce
Mia Mélange’s Décor and Lifestyle products are a labor of love. A love for texture, community but most of all a love for nature. South African-based brand Mia Mélange produces distinct handcrafted 100% cotton décor and accessories. The brand takes pride in solely sourcing locally grown cotton from farmers associated with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Upholding the United Nations eco-friendly agricultural objectives, BCI is a non-profit that calls for sustainable methods of producing cotton and reducing the use of fertilizers in farming practices. Utilizing Cotton is favorable when creating environmentally conscious design due to its renewable, biodegradable, and carbon-neutral properties. The most prolific of Mia Mélange’s product line is the richly colored 100% cotton rope baskets handcrafted by woman in the community. Her baskets are richly colored and intricately braided – utilizing a dye that is Eco-passport certified.
Follow Mia Mélange on Instagram: @miamelange
Expert craftsmanship and rich narrative join forces to create the famed Hlabisa Bench, by award winning product designer Thabisa Mjo. This tale of modern technology and ancient tradition was realized when interior design studio Mash T Design collaborated with renown furniture designer Houtlander to create a bench that would pay homage to Thabisa’s childhood. In search of a Master weaver that could weave the backrest, the pair commissioned Zulu Master Weaver, Beauty Nxongo. Ngoxo is a Master Weaver from rural KZN, who has international acclaim with her craft featured in the Prominent Met and Smithsonian. Utilizing locally harvested palm that has been hand dyed, Ngoxo intricately interlaced the palm using ancient techniques to create captivating patterns. Mjo aspires to build a sustainable business that will establish South African design as a category brand and platform to generate opportunities for craftspeople.
Follow Mash T Studio on instagram: @mastdesignstudio
Mash.T Design Studio: Tutu Pendant Light made out of unique fabric and banana leaf and leftover.[/caption]
Mungo is a South African based organic textile brand providing luxurious comfort with integrity. Their soft towels, quality linens, cushion covers and various apparel only uses long lasting natural fibers. The brand is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified which means the uphold the world-wide recognized requirements to produce organic textiles. Mungo ensures that from the point of harvesting of the raw materials to labelling their product they maintain absolute transparency on socially and environmentally responsible. The sustainable brand advocate for thoughtful consumption, striving for longevity in their product rather than a seasonal and disposable approach. Mungo dedication to transparency has culminated in ‘The Mungo Mill’ an opportunity for guided tours through their mill to see the Mungo textile production in action. This is open to the public and allows the community to learn about the age old art of milling.
Follow Mungo on Instagram: @mungodesign
Porky Hefer is a renowned artist and designer from Cape Town, South Africa. He is dedicated to recycling and creating through the artistic re-use of waste. Hefer’s Plastocene 2020 exhibition, presents Marine Mutants from a Disposable World. It is a series of handcrafted dystopian sea creatures that have mutated in form due to environmental neglect. Hefer believes that human interference and hyper consumerism’s negative impact on planet will force animals to evolve. The evolution of these animals underpins the conceptual narrative for Plastocence 2020. An imagined mutation of natural life forms due to sea-born plastic waste. Heffer creates mutated sea creatures made from cigarette butts, cotton buds, straws, coffee cups, fishing nets and other remnants of humans’ wasteful lifestyles. So Hefer’s artistic approach is to find the “opportunity within the negative situation”, may we all strive to see the world.
Follow Porky Hefer on Instagram: @heferporky
Lighting Designer, Stephen Pikus, is brightening up our homes, offices, spa’s but most of all the lives of many trolley-pulling street waste-pickers. Affectionally referred to as trashpenuers, these men spend their days collecting discarded waste to recycle in order to put food their tables. Pikus has given them an even more meaningful reason to keep collecting. He teams up with them and mentors them in the art of handcrafting the most incredible light fixtures. From transforming mounds of discarded broken glass into magnificent chandeliers or creating soft beautiful pendants from recycled truck filters. Pikus epitomizes the age old saying “One Man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.