Inscape’s Alumni Mpho Vackier is a true testament that if you want something you have to work hard,be determined and stay focused. Mpho quit her career as an Engineer and followed her design passion, today all her hardwork and perseverance is paying off as she is a force to be reckoned with in the design industry. Who in their lifetime can say they got complimented by Calvin Klein? Mpho of course! We got to chat to Mpho about the design industry,projects she is involved in and her plans for 2017,we were inspired!
Who is Mpho?
Most people would say, ooh Mpho is such a perfectionist, never satisfied! I am ambitious yes but I work hard, I expect a lot from myself and despise mediocrity both from myself and everyone around me. (Ask my 8 yr. old J) I am driven, my motto has always been go Big or go home, if you are going to do something, do it exceptionally well, give it all you can, separate yourself from the sea of sameness by striving for the exceptional. I am a mom, wife, #girlboss, mentor, sister and a work in progress. I am constantly evolving, knowing that I don’t know anything at all. Most of all I am just a girl from a small village in Rustenburg; I have proven again and again mostly to myself that your beginnings do not dictate your future, your work ethic and your attitude do.
You hold a Bachelor of Technology in Extraction Metallurgy and a Bachelor of Design Degree in Interior Design, how did that happen?
I am a metallurgical engineer turned interior designer. I had always felt that I was a designer at heart and 7 years ago I made the leap of faith to quit my job as a metallurgist and study Interior Design. Being creative or living a creative life has always been my goal; this is all I want to do. I used to joke with my husband before I quit my job as an engineer, saying that if a bus hit me after graduation day, I would die happy, because I would have died my true self (morbid, but funny). Being able to create amazing products/spaces that make people’s lives not only better but also prettier; Man! What more can I ask for?
How has the design industry been treating you?
The industry has been great, after I graduated I worked for a small interior design company, where I learnt so much, then through Inscape I got offered the opportunity to exhibit at the Decorex in 2015, which is really when I decided to make the change. I think I always knew I wanted to end up designing products and furniture, so I quit my job and formally started my own interior design and furniture design company DesignPeo. At the beginning of this year I launched a furniture brand under DesignPeo: The Urbanative inspired by ethnic patterns and motifs globally, we constantly explore how graphic cultural signifiers (globally) can be applied and reinterpreted to inspire new and modern product designs that are relatable to the urban modern citizen. Our goal is to connect people back to their cultures as well as to connect people to various other cultures through the reinterpretation and abstraction multiple cultural patterns and motifs. We want to start a conversation and a connection. The brand celebrates the individuality of clients by offering customisable furniture pieces that are truly defined by the owner and their needs. With a firm belief in the idea and the benefits of collaborative working relationships, we work with a range of talented multidisciplinary professionals to offer inspired, imaginative and multifunctional design solutions. It’s been hard but rewarding at the same time, the life of a creativepreneur is hard but man, and it’s exciting.
What projects have you worked/involved in since graduating?
The company I worked for did amazing projects for Legacy hotels, so I have had the pleasure of assisting on projects like the Michelangelo, Elephant Point in the Kruger Park, amazing beauty Spa brands like Waxit, gorgeous homes in and around Africa. On my own, I have focused more on the furniture design brand. We launched this year at the Hello Ambassador Creative conference where we got great feedback, met amazing people. Then we got to design chairs for an amazing event in Florida, Orlando in the US. There has been some amazing connections, photoshoots and opportunities that will bloom next year.
A project that you are most proud of to date?
Interior Design: The overhauling/renovation of my home which is basically a standing portfolio; we just wrapped a photoshoot by one of the Home Design magazines which will be in print in February. Furniture Design: Designing and manufacturing chairs that were used to interview celebrities like 50 cent, John Travolta (A-list Actor and Pilot), Randi Zuckerberg (Former Director of Market Development and spokesperson for Facebook, and a sister of the company’s co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg), Calvin Klein, Bruce Buffer (Voice UFC), Fredrik Eklund (star of million dollar listing NY), George Ross in Florida, Orlando in the US.
You recently designed chairs for the JT Foxx Family reunion, tell us about that experience:
This was an amazing opportunity, I met JT Foxx this year March and had a meeting with him to discuss my new business (the Urbanative) and he asked me to design the chairs to be used for the event. This event was attended by 1500 plus people from all over the world, I met amazing people from Norway, Sweden, UK, parts of Africa and the US. To think that I conceptualised and created something that had such a crucial part of the event, for all these amazing people. I was both honoured and overjoyed at the opportunity. The chairs received so many compliments, Calvin Klein said that those were the most comfortable chairs he’s sat on in a very long time. The overall design theme of the chairs was defined by the phrase: From Africa to the World; this was illustrated by combining very strong African cultural patterns and forms with modern classical furniture design shapes. These traditional lines/patterns/forms can be found in Setswana basketry, Zulu beading and Ndebele hut surface designs. We wanted to create pieces that are influenced by this amazing continent that is Africa, using cultural signifiers, patterns, arrangements and translating those for the modern/western client into usable and beautifully crafted pieces.
Projects that you would like to be involved in?
Ooh I would love to design pieces for restaurants and hotels, in terms of interior design I would like to do more retail and commercial spaces, but on my bucket list is to do more adaptive reuse projects in inner cities.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From Everything!! From patterns, images, fashion, graphic design, my family, engineering, travelling, art, literally everything!! Keep your eyes open.
Plans for 2017?
To take over the world!! (Evil Laugh) No seriously to grow The urbanative, we will be at 100 % Design next year and SA Design (Rooms on View) so we are excited about that. A couple of collaborations are on the horizon with amazing creatives. More commercial and retail interior design projects. Overall it’s going to be an insane year.
Advice you would like to share with Inscape’s 2016 Graduates.
You cannot have a million dollar dream with a minimum wage work ethic! Whatever your goal in this industry; work harder, dream bigger, think broader. The industry is not interested in mediocre designers, they are looking for innovative, energetic, focused and fired up individuals who eat challenges for breakfast and relish the idea of solving problems.