Design Joburg featuring Rooms on View is taking place this weekend, and the program this year is looking better than ever. This year’s collaborations will be more refined and supersized than ever before. Dubbed CoLabs, these spaces are inventive and experimental and comprise curated feature exhibits that bring together leading architects and interior designers with top-drawer brands, local artisans, and suppliers. Part of upping the ante is the show’s exciting partnership with paint brand Fired Earth as sponsors of the CoLabs features.

We chat to design newcomer Jacoline Sema about her mentorship with Blacksmith and the creation of their feature within the CoLabs section of the show, presented in collaboration with Fired Earth Paint.

Jacoline is a mentee to Blacksmith and the two are creating a bar and lounge area together.

What are you known for?

I’m known for my unconventional way of designing.

What theme are you working with and where did you draw inspiration from in creating your concept?

Our theme is a fuse of traditional and contemporary Afro-chic. Our concept was influenced by the different cultures found in South Africa plus the crafting and design methods used by our ancestors. We’ve infused this with the more contemporary use of materials and bespoke pieces.

What would you consider to be the highlight of your CoLab stand that would make visitors want to visit it?

The highlight of our stand is how the space resolves itself so seamlessly and beautifully. Each bespoke piece is of its place and time but beyond them too. Influence and intention go hand in hand in the creation of our products not forgetting the use of material in each bespoke piece. As a result, the space becomes part of a conversation for the viewer.

As a mentee what are you most looking forward to in terms of the whole CoLab experience?

I’m looking forward to working with my mentor Ryan Illger. He influenced me to become a designer in the first place and continues to be a huge part of my growth; it’s always an honour to work with him.

What do you see as the ultimate trend right now?

When one looks at the world map, the African continent is at the centre of the world. It’s no wonder the world is currently looking towards Africa for inspiration. Creatives on the continent are fusing elements of futurism and local identities. It’s about celebrating Africa for everything it is, not filtering it through a foreign perspective. People are valuing craftmanship and the hand of the maker. No two products are exactly the same so it makes them exclusive and best of all authentic.

What do you consider to be the worst trend ever?

All white rooms.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your interior/architectural style?

I find inspiration in creation, nature and fashion. I’m also inspired by people and the diverse cultures in South Africa. I see design as a service to humanity. I believe design improves the quality of life. I think if you’re a visual person and you’re open to seeing thing’s, there’s so much to take in.

Give us your one best piece of interior design or architectural advice.

You should always spend time considering your lifestyle before making any decisions regarding your interior.

What are you coveting right now for your own home?

A well-designed workstation.

What excites you about South African design?

It’s exciting times to be a designer in South Africa. Design is in a constant state of innovation and expression. African designers are looking inwards and celebrating the richness of our various cultures. Excitingly Africa can never be represented by a single aesthetic or story.

What would you like to see more of in the local design scene?

I’d love to see design institutions adding more African designers and design principles to their syllabus. Local designers have been primarily exposed to European styles and design principles for far too long. If we are taught more about our African design heritage, we’d be able to offer a more continental influenced idiosyncratic design language.

What gadget, device, software or piece of IT equipment can you not live without? And you can’t pick your mobile phone!

It’s got to be my laptop!

Describe the key elements of the ultimate interior /home.

It’s necessary to think of the house in its totality; a series of spaces linked together by halls and stairways. I think it’s vital to choose a common theme and style throughout. Not all design elements need be the same, but they should work together to strengthen the composition.

If you could meet any designer living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet architect and actress Linda Mvusi. I’d like to know how she dealt with being a black female architect during the apartheid era, especially within such a male-dominated industry, and how she dealt with being a part of the team of architects that designed the Apartheid Museum.

Any exciting projects coming up you can tell us about?

I recently established by own brand called Jacoline S Designs. Within its offering I am working on my new product range entitled Lefa; meaning ‘inheritance’ in Southern Sotho. The range takes its inspiration from the various traditional garments and jewellery found in African cultures. I’ve made use of brass to represent gold’s history in all our cultures. Lefa tells a story of our African heritage in which traditional garments and jewellery have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of these bespoke products will be shown at our CoLab stand.

Tell us about your dream project.

I would love to work on a project that highlights the role of an African designer, that is to create design that serves the needs of the majority. We need to go beyond designing spaces that are just aesthetically pleasing; design is about so much more. Designers have to be open minded, unbiased by race, aesthetics, religion, or any other kind of one-sided perspective. I would love to be a part of a project that address’s the most pressing needs in South Africa such as poverty, infrastructure, transport, schooling and job creation. Designers are able to see things that don’t (yet) exist; a huge responsibility that we have been entrusted with.

Tell us a little more about what aspect of what you do really excites you?

Being a designer is a beautiful occupation. To get to design products and spaces that people have daily relationships with is a privilege. Being a designer gives me the opportunity to develop new visual languages and to evolve human behaviors, to innovate, and to try and shape a better world.

Design Joburg takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre, from 25 – 27 May 2018.

To read more on what to expect at this year’s show, read here!