Joint Affair: Mlondolozi Hempe Marries Furniture, Interior And Architectural Design

Known for his dynamic thought process, Mlondolozi Hempe founded Umongo and Co-Founded Broad Based Design on the foundation of giving creatives a platform to conceive and construct beautiful design. Having obtained his Bachelor of Architectural Studies Degree in 2011, he is currently registered with the South African Council of Architectural Professionals and uses his professional prowess to conceptualize and organize spaces all over Africa. Mlondolozi has a love for design as he marries furniture, interior and architectural design, viewing design as a uniform language to be explored and constantly studied. Introducing this week’s Voice of Africa, Mlondolozi Hempe.

Take a look inside this contemporary and tranquil master bedroom. Hempe implores angular design principles with few free-flowing edges to draw the eye through the space, without obstruction.

Take a look inside this contemporary and tranquil master bedroom. Hempe implores angular design principles with few free-flowing edges to draw the eye through the space, without obstruction.

Reed Davis: How has your heritage inspired your work?
Mlondolozi Hempe: My heritage has had an impact on my work, especially my furniture and interior design work. Some of my furniture pieces tell stories, like the Imbadu bench which tells the story of a ritual around community gathering and problem-solving.

Reed: What does design mean to you? What does African design mean to you?
Mlondolozi: Design to me means the ability to solve problems creatively, to create beautiful pieces that inspire others, and manifest thoughts in the real world. African design means the ability to preserve culture through creativity which is something we have already done as people through storytelling. Now Africans can tell their story through design work at different scales.

This rounded couch is begging you to carve out some time for conversation. It’s situated around small tables and a beautiful stitched rug, giving the space a minimalist vibe, while still harkening to Hempe’s culture and design doctrines.

This rounded couch is begging you to carve out some time for conversation. It’s situated around small tables and a beautiful stitched rug, giving the space a minimalist vibe, while still harkening to Hempe’s culture and design doctrines.

Reed: What is something you hope to see trending in design in the future?
Mlondolozi: Something I hope to see trending in design in the future is sustainable design, not only from a material sourcing perspective but from a human capital point of view. How design networks are nurtured and grown by private and public institutions to manifest the true value of the creative economy and how it can impact the African economy.

Reed: If you had one more hour in the day what would you do with it?
Mlondolozi: An extra hour in the day, I think I would use it on reading design literature. It’s something I seldom find time for.

Above is an impactful table created by Hempe. It demonstrates that even everyday objects can include a message that leaves us questioning our privilege.
Above is an impactful table created by Hempe. It demonstrates that even everyday objects can include a message that leaves us questioning our privilege.

Reed: What inspired you to start designing/creating?
Mlondolozi: I grew up a creative child so one can say it was a natural step. Also I come from a family of trades people, carpenters, bricklayers, etc so using my hands and thinking creatively has been in my DNA.


About The Maker | Mlondolozi Hempe is a South African multidisciplinary designer, curator and consultant based in Cape Town. His work covers furniture design, architecture, interior design and sustainable design consulting. Through his company Umongo he has curated exhibitions at Design Indaba, and Santa Fe New Mexico. His aesthetic for design can be seen from collaborations with internationally recognised South African designers and artists. He believes collaboration is a strong foundation for purposeful design. Some of Hempe’s work that has greatly illustrated his design palette and unique perspective include Imdadu bench, Dream Chair , A xhosa inspired living space, A Dining Space, Art Meets Design, Wooden Potjie, Design Indaba, African Contemporary Art Sant Fe. He is the co-founder and design director of architectural studio Broad Based Design their focus is on redefining affordable housing to give access and opportunity to everyone. He shared his philosophy in global stages, such as the UIA 2017 in Seoul where he presented his paper “Intergraded Living in a Post-Apartheid Sate”. Hempe has a passion for sustainability which he continues to enable under PJC+Partners a sustainability design company focusing on building performance design where he is director. He has delivered Green Star Ratings for some landmark buildings in the South African building skyline these include, 140 West, Sandton, Johannesburg, winner of the SAPOA Innovation Award for Best Commercial Building 2018, Sable Park, Century City ,Cape Town, winner of the SAPOA Innovation Excellence Award for Best office Development 2019. Hempe has further been invited to be on the judging panel for the Dezeen Awards 2021,World Interior News Awards 2021 and Re-thinking the future Awards.


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