The renowned Musée des Arts Décoratifs (MAD, Paris) has acquired two landmark pieces by South African designer Thabisa Mjo of Mash T. Design Studio for its permanent collection. Mjo is the first local designer to have work included in this prominent international museum.
The notable Parisian institute was founded in 1905 and its permanent collection is dedicated to the exhibition and preservation of the decorative arts. The museum houses over 150 000 objects that epitomise the Art of Living and illustrate the heights of craftmanship. MAD Paris’s collection stretches from the Middle Ages through to modern times, and includes contemporary pieces by the likes of legendary designers such as Le Corbusier and Philippe Starcke.
MAD Paris has acquired one of Mjo’s now iconic Tutu 2.0 lamps and an eye-catching Mjojo cabinet. Both pieces came to the museum’s attention because they were part of an exhibition of Mjo’s work at the Bonne Espérance Gallery.
“I am completely thrilled,” states Mjo, “to have my work represented on the international stage and as part of an important permanent collection, following my earlier exhibition at Bonne Espérance.”
Mjo brilliantly embodies the new, young generation of unstoppable South African designers. She first rose to local fame by jointly winning the first-ever Nando’s Hot Young Designer (HYD) talent search, a competition that is now in its third iteration, with a new winner to be announced in November 2020. Mjo was chosen as the inaugural HYD winner for her Tutu 2.0, a lamp inspired by xibelani, the traditional garment worn by Tsonga women. It is this very same piece that has been acquired by MAD, Paris. After Nando’s helped catapult this product into the spotlight as part of Mjo’s HYD prize, the Tutu 2.0 went on to win the Design Indaba’s “Most Beautiful Object in South Africa” award in 2018.
The 2nd piece acquired by MAD, Paris, the Mjojo cabinet, has a shape inspired by a brand of commonly used vertical water storage tanks called JoJo Tanks. But it is also play on the Xhosa word umjojo, which can be loosely translated to mean something that makes one shy away from attention. This word is the complete opposite of her intention with the cabinet, says Mjo, because the Mjojo “invites people to look at it because it is so wacky. It’s so interesting to me to see other people being intrigued by this wacky cabinet, because for me, it was just this outlandish idea that I had, and really I wanted to satisfy my own curiosity to see if it could work.”