Thabisa Mjo celebrates a decade in the design space

Thabisa Mjo. Picture: Supplied.

Thabisa Mjo. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 28, 2024


IT’S the Nando’s Hot Young Designer (HYD) search and Thabisa Mjo of Mash T Design Studio, who won the first edition of the talent search, shared some insightful advice with the new finalists.

She said: “Your perspective, your unique voice is important and much needed. Don’t be overly concerned about making things that are ‘trendy’.

“Rather make things that are true to what you want to put out in the world, and the trends will catch up to you. Also to stay open to feedback.”

Mjo, who described the competition as having “changed the trajectory of my entire life”, made history when she became the first South African designer to have her work placed in the permanent collection of the Louvre’s “Musée des Arts Décoratifs” in Paris in 2020.

She also recently participated in Dolce & Gabbana’s “Gen D” exhibition at Milan Design Week 2024.

The work of Thabisa Mjo. Picture: Supplied.

“When the Museum of Decorative Arts at the Louvre reached out to me about acquiring two of my works - the Tutu pendant and the Mjojo cabinet - as part of their permanent collections, I was blown away.

“That acquisition by that institution confirmed for me what I’ve always believed, which is that South African design is world-class. It’s also a wonderful affirmation of my design capabilities,” Mjo said.

Although she has achieved many things in her career, including designing chandeliers for Nando's Casa in the UK, she said that being consistent in the industry is her biggest achievement.

“My career highlights include still being in business 9-10 years after I first started. Every entrepreneur can tell you how challenging running a small business is.

“I am still doing it 10 years later and the business has grown. That is my highlight,” she said.

Thabisa Mjo. Picture: Supplied.

"My goal is to build Mash.T Design Studio into a sustainable and scalable design business that creates income-generating opportunities for artisans and crafters. That we are well on our way to achieving that goal, that is the highlight.”

And to those who are still new in the industry, she encourages them to keep going.

“Don’t take things too personally. Keep creating, implement what you’re learning and speak up, ask for what you want.

“So, I guess those are my parting words for other people also coming up.”