Lifestyle profile – Mpho Vackier
Pretoria-based trendsetter MPHO VACKIER, 35, left an engineering job to pursue her passion for interior and furniture design.
The Urbanative is a furniture design company which takes as its inspiration patterns with ethnic and global design motifs. Owner Mpho Vackier’s intention behind every piece of furniture she designs is to produce a contemporary, functional item for the modern-day urbanite. “I’m driven by the desire to create sophisticated, authentic and functional furniture,” she says.
“I love to think of my work as a celebration of global culture and modern classical design, resulting in pieces that have a story and are relatable to the modern customer.”
She believes that her work is not just about selling furniture, but also about creating concepts to enhance our living spaces and give them her signature style of comfort and class. “I love designs that take you on a journey of exploration,” Mpho explains.
Her company offers a range of interior and furniture solutions to suit any customer’s style and budget. Mpho says her passion developed during the time she was working as an engineer. “The technical aspect of interior and furniture design – in terms of the materials used and the techniques required to produce such designs – appealed to me. Being able to solve problems and have a client live with my designs is one of my favourite things.
“I’m also inspired by graphics that tell of people’s ethnicity and culture, as well as by classical mid-century furniture silhouettes. I love the visual tension created by contrasting elements, materials and ideas. My definition of being an ‘urbanative’ centres on being grounded and inspired by my African culture while being involved in the modern world. This is translated through my designs.”
But running a start-up business is challenging. “At the beginning, you are the business. I had to wear so many hats while still being a mom and wife. Balancing everything has been tricky, but surrounding yourself with the right team is key. You constantly have to silence that inner critic and focus on what needs to be done. It’s not easy, but I try to focus on the positive and remain aware of each moment,” she adds.
The Urbanative has attracted local and international admiration. “There have been many ‘wow’ moments for me,” says Mpho. “One of them was being chosen as part of this year’s Emerging Creatives Programme, an annual joint initiative by Design Indaba and the Department of Arts and Culture to nurture new creative talent. Another was having stars like Calvin Klein, John Travolta and 50 Cent sit on the lounge chairs I designed for a business conference in Florida in the US. Plus, I’ve collaborated with amazing creatives.”
And her future plans? “It’s all about global expansion,” she smiles.