We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Colab project lets artists shine their culture and heritage

Trio share what makes them proud to call Mzansi home

Nombuso Kumalo Content Producer
Image: supplied

Artists Faatimah Mohamed-Luke, Xolani Mhlongo and Zinhle Sithebe are letting their culture and heritage shine with the Colab project.

The limited-edition art deco capsule collection, in collaboration with retailer Mr Price Home, is available online and select stores. The collection elevate spaces and re-invigorate the spirit of spring with one-of-a-kind home-wear essentials. Sithebe's design from the project lands of SMag's latest digital cover, themed around the art of spring cleaning. The trio share all the things that make them proud to call Mzansi home: 

Born and raised in Cape Town, Faatimah Mohamed-Luke is an artist and co-designer of Mrs + Mr Luke 

Designer Faatimah Mohamed-Luke.
Designer Faatimah Mohamed-Luke.
Image: supplied

What is the story behind the brand, Mrs + Mr Luke?

I have a mixed heritage which comes from Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and Arabian Peninsula. While on holiday in Morocco eight years ago, I fell in love with the ornate cities and the way everything was intricately patterned. It was the first time I had experienced my heritage fit so seamlessly and beautifully together. This is where I discovered the art of tessellation, which is usually done using tiny porcelain tiles to create mosaic adornment. 

What is your inspiration behind the Colab collection?

The collection incorporates elements of Arab architecture, Indian woodblock printing, Indonesian resist patterns, and Malay calligraphy. Geometric, repetitive and abstract patterning are common in African beading, basketry and iconography too.  

What does the collection signify to you and your journey as an artist?

The collaboration is special because it allows me to create fully with any medium and in many different forms. The collection allows my work to travel into the homes of many people for many different reasons and in a functional way yet retains the joy and playfulness that I strive to exude within all my artworks regardless of price point. 

What are your three tips to get interior spaces spring ready? 

I always advocate spring cleaning the area first, dusting and cleaning help us remove stagnant energy and items that no longer serve us. Add greenery to the space to fill your home with things that literally give us fresh air. Lastly, add one item that you love. It doesn’t matter if it is a large artwork or a small ceramic vase or an inspiring book, what matters is that you are adding something you value to your space. 


Former FNB training specialist Xolani Mhlongo found his inspiration for exquisite African design by travelling the continent. He has since founded Urithi – Origins of Africa.  

Designer Xolani Mhlongo
Designer Xolani Mhlongo
Image: supplied


What is the story behind the name Urithi – Origins of Africa? 

I originally created a brand called Origins but when I tried to copyright it, I learned that one of the skincare companies already took that name. So, I dug deeper into Africa and learned that urithi meant heritage in Swahili. I jumped on the name as I wanted to speak African heritage through fabric and canvas. I still wanted to retain the word origins, so I created a payoff line which resulted in Urithi – Origins of Africa.  

What stands out in your upbringing that showed off your love for African design?  

When I was in primary school, I remember our [friends and myself] favourite clothes where mostly American brands such as my LA Gear sneakers. We would brag about owning them, yet we had no relation to any of them and the question became do we have anything African that can be worn with pride like this. The only thing I can recall from that age was the African shirt, remember those? 

What is the must-have piece from the collection? 

The blanket or the cushions. They each infuse all the artworks in one, so it’s like you have all of them in one item. I must warn the readers though; they are all hard to resist I must say.

How will this collaboration change your life? 

It has been life changing as we have learned immensely through the months. We hope and pray that it puts us out there and we get more projects like this and that people at home will really love what we have been part of and enjoy the items. They are our real heritage and always will be our inspiration, otherwise why create. 


Freelance illustrator and pattern artist, Zinhle Sithebe’s childhood travels outside of bustling Jozi into tranquil Newcastle nestled her passion for vibrant designs.  

Designer Zinhle Sithebe.
Designer Zinhle Sithebe.
Image: supplied

Share with us the story behind your brand Z Feels? 

I’ve always wanted to create art but on my terms. The name Z Feels pronounced (Zee Feels) came from my name and Feels came from understanding the need to be vulnerable and feel to create. As a Zulu woman I want to share the beauty of culture and new views on being an African in a contemporary way. The use of bold shapes, colours and symbols enables me to create something different and stand out.  

Where was your spark for interiors and design ignited?

On Instagram I came across a post from Nando’s, and it was a surface/textile design competition. I tried it out since I had a graphic design background and thought it would be cool. I was stunned to be part of the top 10 finalists of the Nando’s Hot Young Designer Competition 2018. I later became part of the Nando’s/Clout SA family through the competition, and this opened the door to a new love for pattern design. 

How will this collaboration change your life? 

It already has. Seeing myself do things I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing and gaining more inspiration. Furthermore, opening more doors and inviting the country to know more about Zinhle Sithebe (Zee Feels) the quiet woman with a bold heart.  

What is the one piece from the collection that readers should purchase and why? 

I love the paddle ball game kit; it is so fun and colourful. They’re perfect for playing with family and friends in the warmer weather. You can also use them to block the sun out or block out some negativity.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.