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On at the Southern Guild

Free: See fashion prodigy Rich Mnisi’s bewitching furniture exhibition

Last updated: Tuesday, 14 September 2021 

A table with a snake beneath it, chaise longues, rugs and the scariest part – a dramatic chandelier – forms part of renowned fashion designer Rich Mnisi's first solo exhibition of collectible furniture. This beautiful nightmare of an exhibition is on at Southern Guild, arguably Africa’s most notable design gallery, from 2 October 2021 to 4 February 2022.

The designer, who made the classic polo neck popular and whose garments are seen on Vogue and a slew of celebs like Beyonce and Bonang Matheba and Naomi, also won Emerging Designer of the Year at the Essence Best in Black Fashion Awards, in New York.
 Southern_Guild_Cape_Town_South_Africa_Rich_Mnisi_Nyoka
Rich Mnisi relaxes on one of his creations. Image: Southern Guild / Ricardo Simal.


SNAP UP A COLLECTIBLE

His current solo exhibition, titled Nyoka (from Xitsonga, meaning snake), draws inspiration from pop culture, as well as his VaTsonga heritage and the mythology passed down through his family’s generations.

Southern Guild_Cape_Town_South_Africa_Rich_Mnisi_Nyoka
Rich Mnisi pictured here with his dramatic snake design. Image: Southern Guild / Ricardo Simal.


Rich ventured into furniture design in 2018, when Southern Guild featured two of his furniture pieces, Nwa-Mulamula's Chaise and Nwa-Mulamula's Tears.

Southern_Guild_Cape_Town_South_Africa_Rich_Mnisi_NwaMulamula
Rich Mnisi's Nwa-Mulamula pieces for the 2018 exhibition, Extra Ordinary. Image: Southern Guild / Hayden Phipps.

They were a continuation of his Nwa-Mulamula fashion collection, a tribute to his late great-grandmother, who passed down teachings through the generations of his family.


In 2019, Southern Guild commissioned a second collection from him, which he titled Alkebulan. Nyoka is Rich’s first solo exhibition, where you can even snap up a collectible.

Southern_Guild_Cape_Town_South_Africa_Rich_Mnisi_Alkebulan
Rich Mnisi's 2019 collection Alkbelulan. Image: Southern Guild / Hayden Phipps.


“THIS STARTED WITH A NIGHTMARE” 

The strong snake theme in his designs was inspired by his mother’s dream about a green serpent, which was both beautiful and frightening, he says. “My entire family is terrified of snakes,” he said in an interview in GRAY Magazine. 

Southern Guild_Cape_Town_South_Africa_Rich_Mnisi_Nyoka
Snakes are a strong theme in Rich Mnisi’s work, and there’s a family connection. Image: Southern Guild / Ricardo Simal.

Speaking to Southern Guild, he said the pieces are working with the idea of duality and “beauty distilled from darkness”. “To live is to embrace this duality. To accept that joy and tragedy, light and darkness, dreams and nightmares are connected, orbiting and defining each other.”

HE CHALLENGES THE STATUS QUO

“The chandelier was the scariest part for me!” Rich says in Gray Magazine. He used a combination of glass and bronze to create this intricate and amazing piece. And yet, he continues, “this collection feels like the most important thing I’ve ever done”.

Southern Guild_Cape_Town_South_Africa_Rich_Mnisi_Nyoka
Rich Mnisi is seen here with Monkeybiz artisans, with whom he collaborated on this collection. Image: Southern Guild / Bruce Buttery & Panga Films

HOW TO ATTEND

Rich Mnisi's Nyoka exhibition is open for free at the Southern Guild, from Mondays to Saturdays from the 2nd October 2021 to 4th February 2022.

Date: Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm; Saturdays, 10am - 2pm

By Jessie Leverzencie

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