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Joburg based designer Sipho Twala gets creative with furniture design

The Gimba Cabinet is one of many designer furniture pieces created by Sipho Twala. Supplied image.

The Gimba Cabinet is one of many designer furniture pieces created by Sipho Twala. Supplied image.

Published Oct 27, 2021


Johannesburg based designer Sipho Twala is the founder of Khwebula Arts, a business that manufactures high-quality, crafted, solid wood furniture. He was a 2020 design indaba emerging creative as well as a top 10 finalist in the Nando’s Hot Young Designer 2020 Bench design competition. He recently exhibited a mirror and server at the Right Here Right Now showcase.

Twala creates interesting furniture pieces but growing up he didn’t think he would become a furniture maker.

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“If I were to tell my 19-year-old self that he was going to make furniture for a living, he would have been disappointed. I was young and I was looking for a job. This opportunity came through a learnership where they taught us how to do woodwork. I was working as a taxi driver then and took the opportunity. Three months later I started falling in love with woodwork,” he said.

The 31-year-old eventually became a carpenter, specialising in kitchen cabinets and started a company that ended up failing. He joined furniture designer David Krynauw who introduced Twala to furniture design.

He learnt how to draw from watching YouTube tutorials and taught himself how to use machinery.

Sipho Twala. Supplied image.

“Carpentry and design work together. Everything made by carpenters starts with designers. I infused my carpentry with design and that has made me able to come up with many ideas.”

To him a creative uprising is young African minds coming together to shape a new wave of talent.

He founded Khwebula Arts in 2019 and showcases his work on his website and on social media.

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He will be part of the designer showcase for the three-day Basha Uhuru Festival which takes place from October 28 - 30.

“Having these opportunities, movements and events like Basha Uhuru, it makes the creative space more interesting and inspiring. I am interested in becoming a manufacturer for local designers. We don’t want people going to China when they can create here in South Africa. If we do this the industry will grow and this includes interior designers, furniture designers and the retail space.”

Twala’s Ndebele and Swati inspired Gimba Cabinet is one of the designs that have helped him create with uniqueness.

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“I wanted to explore a different look and it worked out. I got a lot more ideas from that. I don’t design things just for the look. When I design I improve my manufacturing process. If it becomes functional I get more ideas from it and it elevates my manufacturing process at the same time.”

To see more of his work visit

Highlights at this year’s Basha Uhuru Music Festival on October 30 include music from Langa Mavuso, Sun El Musician, Ms Party, MX Blouse, SIO, Marcus Harvey, Easy Freek, Fif_Laaa and Thandonje. Tickets are R100 from Webtickets.

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