Curated by award-winning South African designer Thabisa Mjo, the “Sacrosanct” exhibition is predominantly women-powered, community-orientated and alive with authentic contemporary expressions of cultural narratives featuring fine craftsmanship.
Mjo first came up with the idea while visiting Vatican City and Rome with her mother. Her fascination with cathedrals sparked her desire for creation.
“Watching my mother in the cathedral made me see parallels between how beautifully maintained those sacred buildings are and how African women, almost obsessively, tend to their own homes.
“I adapted the shape of the hut from the iconic African shape to suit my needs,” said Mjo.
“This is typical of how things are done in South Africa; we take what we have and change it to better serve our present needs. This is how we end up creating unexpected yet interesting, thought-provoking aesthetics - out of a need to solve a problem.”
Also featured in the hut, is Mjo’s Tutu 2.0 light, which won Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at last year’s Design Indaba.
Tutu 2.0 will be displayed within the interior, as will mirrors with woven details by Candice Lawrence.
The woven mirrors are inspired by the geometric shapes of African jewellery, while cork stools by Laurie Wiid of Wiid Design, are made in Cape Town from organic and completely recyclable dark or light cork.
The hut’s bold red and white patterning is meant to symbolise old and new worlds meeting.
“It’s a nod to the beautiful textured pattern of the daub or cow-dung interior walls of African huts traditionally built by women, but is actually a graphic representation of the streets of Johannesburg,” said Mjo.
The pattern was designed by mixed media visual artist Sakhile Cebekhulu.
In her curation of the hut’s interior, Mjo chose hand-woven rugs from The Ninevites founder Nkuli Mlangeni.
The two hand-woven rugs featured include a Sankara Rug for the wall, a design by African folklore referencing Ndebele patterns and the Reed Dance ceremony in Swaziland and an Imitha Rug for the floor.
The Oromo Chair from Urban Native by metallurgical engineer and designer Mpho Vackier is inspired by the geometric shapes, lines, forms and textures seen in traditional African hairstyles.
Milan Design Week, which ends today, is held annually in different neighbourhoods in the city centre.