Nkuli Mlangeli on the art of rug making

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Nkuli Mlangeli, the founder of The Ninevites Gang, tells us about the making of the Sankara rug that was titled the most beautiful object in South Africa at the Design Indaba Festival 2017.

1. I am an artistic person who uses creativity to curate inspiring content. As a deep cultural person, I love using the art of weaving and design to reconnect people to Africa’s rich heritage. I enjoy creating art pieces that connect people and ideas in a simple and effective way. I also use my artistic platform to create social change in a sustainable way.

2. The creative process of the Sankara rug was an eye-opening experience. While in my final year of studying social innovation and entrepreneurship at the Kaospilot School in Switzerland, I was required to do a pilot project on entrepreneurship. I had to use the things that I am passionate about to create social change in a sustainable way. After conducting research and looking for inspiration that has a modern and rich heritage, I came up with the rug concept. I then worked with a graphic designer who translated my ideas into graphics, which I took to weavers. Local farmers provided the raw wool, and we spun and dyed it. From there, the pattern was drawn and translated into the rug. I was hands-on throughout the whole process, and I learnt a lot about myself and the traditional weaving method.

3. The feedback on the Sankara rug continues to be overwhelming. The rug has been well received. I’m excited about the positive exposure that I continue to get. The sustainable farming methods used to create the rug help to uplift communities.

4. I hope to create employment and train more weavers. The art of weaving is a dying method, so I’m working on reviving it. I’m planning to engage correctional services in order to empower inmates so they can have a skill when they come out. Plus, weaving is therapeutic.