Kitchen appliances get an arty twist

A creative collaboration sees local designers take art out of the elevated gallery space and into modern everyday life

29 June 2017 - 13:32 By and Emma Jordan
'Afro-futurist' designer Karabo Poppy Moletsane.
'Afro-futurist' designer Karabo Poppy Moletsane.
Image: @Karabo_Poppy/Instagram

When designer Karabo Poppy Moletsane was approached to collaborate on an experiential design campaign with premium South African lifestyle brand Russell Hobbs, she went to the streets of downtown Joburg.

"I approached this project as I do all my design work," says the Johannesburg-based creative worker. "I look at life in the city, the way people come together and their paths cross and new synergies are formed. I took this and worked it into my design, which is quite graphic.

"There's definitely an African aesthetic and Afro-futurism effect to my contribution."

Moletsane was selected along with graphic artist Sindiso Nyoni and African fashion brand Kisua to be a part of the new Russell Hobbs Art of Living campaign.

They'll be working in selected Boardmans stores in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to create an immersive installation experience that highlights the practice of taking art out of the elevated enclaves of the gallery space and into modern, interactive, everyday life.

The project was led by fashion trend analyst and cultural strategist Nicola Cooper.

Kisua x Russell Hobbs deep-fat fryer.
Kisua x Russell Hobbs deep-fat fryer.
Image: Supplied

Alongside the installations the campaign includes a selection of appliances wrapped with distinctive designs by the creative workers.

Part of these beautiful art offerings is a distinctive gold-toned coffee machine designed by Moletsane, a textured black and white kettle designed by Nyoni, and a colourful deep-fryer created by Kisua.

Inherently African, Nyoni's design draws from his Ndebele heritage and the batik prints from his native home, Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. They are framed and struck through with black lines that echo the shape of a water boiler.

Nyoni says he's loved working on the Art of Living campaign and bringing his designs to everyday items - integrating his artistic practice into an accessible piece of modern life.

"The collaboration was extremely exciting because I got the opportunity to make my art more accessible to more people," echoes Moletsane, who has previously collaborated with brands such as Apple and Pharrell Williams. "To have my art as easy to interact with as making coffee is really an honour," she says.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, people are more attracted to patterns, and patterns that they resonate with. With this in mind, the strategy taken by Russell Hobbs - to create not just unique pieces of every day utensils but a compelling marketing campaign to differentiate them in a growing market - is likely to elevate their position and garner new customers.

Karabo Poppy Moletsane collaborated with Russell Hobbs to create this stylish coffee maker.
Karabo Poppy Moletsane collaborated with Russell Hobbs to create this stylish coffee maker.
Image: Supplied
Graphic artist Sindiso Nyoni pimped up a Russell Hobbs kettle with a graphic black-and-white print.
Graphic artist Sindiso Nyoni pimped up a Russell Hobbs kettle with a graphic black-and-white print.
Image: Supplied

Internationally, Italian appliance brand Smeg teamed up with luxe Italian label Dolce & Gabbana to create a range of Sicilian-inspired brightly coloured decorative home appliances that were instantly covetable.

While the collaborative pieces are not yet available for purchase, three competition winners will be able to take home a set of custom-designed Art of Living appliance collections.

"It's great to see a brand like Russell Hobbs being at the forefront of this concept in South Africa and inviting Sindiso Nyoni, Kisua and I to be a part of it," says Moletsane.

This article was originally published in The Times.

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