TheUrbanative has recently released the “African Crowns” collection, a set of furniture and home decor that draws inspiration from and celebrates traditional African hairstyles. The company’s slogan reads “Not. Just. Furniture,” and with this beautiful recognition of the African identity, it’s safe to say that this collection is so much more than your average home decor.
The pieces honor the importance of these traditional hairstyles and the relationship they have with the collective African identity today. Founder and designer Mpho Vackier explains that hair “has been a symbol and disseminator of family background, social status, spirituality, fertility, differing tribes, and marital status.” The collection is similar to the hairstyles in that they are both functional and telling of a much larger culture and history.
A collection with such a culturally and socially relevant theme is characteristic of the TheUrbanative. Based in South Africa, this furniture and design company is headed by Mpho Vackier. Surprisingly enough, Vackier actually used to work as an engineer in the South African mining industry, though he has since found success and contentment as a home product designer. The brand’s aesthetic is a carefully-curated mix of African motifs and culture and European feel and functionality.
The pieces boast fun colors and bold textures while retaining a clean simplicity. The collection itself is wide and varying in range, comprised of everything from tables and chairs to plant holders and drink consoles. The pieces mainly express their inspiration through mediums such texture and form. The theme is sometimes more subtle, but it is arguably most recognizable through the Mangbetu Pot and Stand. The piece was named after the Magbetu tribe, and the pot features decorative crowns to mirror the circular hairstyles of the woman of that tribe.
Another example is the Oromo Occasional Chair, which blends colors, patterns, and materials to pay homage to the Oromo hairstyle popularized in Jimma in the late 1800s. The chair’s back is given structure by coated steal and decorated with black rope. The design is completed by a plush red velvet cushion resting atop a bold black-and-white patterned base.
Also included in the collection is the Nomzamo Cabinet, which was inspired by traditional Nigerian threaded hairstyles. To imitate that look, the cabinet was designed using tall, sweeping organic lines. The top of the cabinet has an open structure made from coated steal and is adorned with telephone wire details. The body is made from bamboo, and its doors are painted a bright and powerful blue.
Vackier has a distinct vision and aims to share it with the design world through collaboration. Custom pieces of his such as large steel-frame dining tables have been manufactured for large restaurant chains, including Nando’s drive-thru. Vackier has also created bedside tables with Caeserstone Montblanc tops and Kiaat timber for the South African reality TV show Win A Home.
The African Crowns collection is now available for purchase on TheUrbanative’s website. Each piece is custom-made, which means they can all be slightly altered and turned into your new favorite table or mirror.