The market is currently flooded with phenomenal local designers, so when something jumps out at you and gets your whole team talking, you naturally press pause and find out more. Introducing The Ninevites, who are producing the most beautiful handmade rugs to the market.

The Ninevites rugs made their way onto the set of our latest T.I.A inspiration shoot, and lead us to meet the vivacious founder Nonkululeko Mlangeni. Passionate about design and carrying on rich traditional craft methods, Nkuli is a creative force to be reckoned with…

They took their name from the biblical Ninevites. In both contexts, the groups are portrayed as anti-establishment, revolutionary and misunderstood

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The Ninevites rugs featured on page 26 of our latest issue. Image by: The Seppis

Tell us about The Ninevites design philosophy

We have simple, practical and not intimidating design. The most exciting part is we get to act on our dreams and play with other creatives. There has been a great response, with people really appreciating my work, which means so much.

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What’s the story behind the rugs?

The prototypes were produced in Lima, Peru by a very talented man called Mario and we are now looking at taking some of the production to Lesotho – there is a group of women working with weaving and I have family there so I want to reconnect. But I also still hope to hold on to the relationship I have with the guys in Peru and keep the South/South connection alive because we can learn a lot from each other.

Something nobody knows? I fantasise about being the most amazing pole dancer!

Who is coming for dinner and what are you cooking? 

Thomas Sankara, Fela Kuti, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, Nhlanhla Masondo and Nhlanhla Mngadi, Brenda Fassie, Assata Shakur, Shado Twala, Masello Motana. We will be eating Mala Mogodu and Morogo

What is your earliest memory of being fascinated with design?

I think when I first saw the Pretty Women boots – the long ones up to your knees that Julia Roberts wore and then seeing Vinolia Mashego on Jam Alley wearing them!

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“We established Ninevites as a collaborative project and platform to explore under-told narratives of/from life in South/southern Africa using textiles, images and design. It is a celebration of black aesthetics. We design textiles, curate events and keep pushing to tell stories in ways that reflect their vast beauty and invention.”

When I grew up, I wanted to be a pilot!

What’s your future plan?

Looking at how we can continue doing this in the most sustainable way using the right materials and support the artisans etc. We’re also thinking about a Pan African textile art symposium, collaborating with other young designers and continue to learn as much as we can about the industry.

Sounds like a mighty fine plan to us. To get your hands on one of these handcrafted beauties, get hold of Nkuli on the website here.

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LIKED THIS?
Then you will want to get to know the decorative ceramist Lucinda Mudge or the beautiful country creations of Elizabeth-Ann Bradley


The Africa Issue is a celebration of the future of design in Africa and its potential to drive change. We explore the concept of ‘Africaness’, what this means for our aesthetic. We also  dream big with bedroom inspiration and take you on a tour of homes that truly embrace the spirit of the continent. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #AfricaIssue.