Theme: South African Essence

Yes, Lulasclan products are bright and beautiful, but there’s something deeply embedded in them that is cause for reflection. Every fabric print designed by founder Bonolo Chepape is an expression of our local identity, combining heritage and modernity through a refreshing use of patterns, colours and shapes that talk to our unique and diverse cultures. Lulasclan cushions, wallpapers, textiles, posters and rugs tell a truly South African tale. Just launched, the new Adorned Collection is evidence of Chepape’s fascination with our country’s cultural make-up. “We’re all similar in our customs and traditions,” she says, referring to her Pedi, Venda and Tsonga background, while explaining how she looked to these and the Xhosa culture for inspiration when creating this range. She found that all four traditions employ the use of a special cloth that is wrapped around women as a symbol of beauty, pride and dignity when they come of age or get married. Describing the starting point for her inspiration, she says, “The Pedi one is striped with colour blocks; Xhosa is black and white; Venda and Tsonga are almost the same colourful lines, but the Tsonga cloth also has flowers. I saw similarities in the graphic, linear cues, so I identified key design elements that are commonly used and I interpreted them. I’m trying to find the links that connect us all.” In a way, her graphic patterns in exciting hues symbolise the unity that exists when all our South African cultures come together as one. Chepape, who previously worked as a graphic designer at an advertising agency, has been commissioned by numerous companies to design patterns unique to their brands. She’s even designed a bespoke fabric for the V&A Waterfront’s new staff uniforms, which has been included on cuffs, pockets and hats. She believes such designs can aid in protecting South African cultures by making them relevant to today. “I want to preserve our heritage before it gets diluted,” she says. “I want to push boundaries without losing the cultural essence and meaning.” That’s why she spends much time on research, conversing with community members to better understand the histories of their patterns and designs. Says Chepape, “I’m taking history and presenting it in a contemporary and inspiring way." 

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.