Ceramic’s most exciting collab

CTM’s recent collaboration with iconic fashion designer Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana has resulted in an exclusive designer range that awakens pride in the cultural richness of Africa. (image: Supplied)

Some recent collaborations have really pushed the boundaries of what’s possible in design. Adidas x Gucci. Burberry x Supreme. Chanel x Pharrell. Balenciaga x Crocs. Well, maybe the last one went a little too far… Nevertheless, collabs can be an exciting source of creativity, and CTM’s recent work with iconic fashion designer Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana proves the point.

Makhetha-Kwinana has built a reputation for 21st fashion design that pays homage to Southern African fabric traditions. The Lesotho-born designer has drawn on Basotho blankets and other elements to create inventive, new, sophisticated fashions. Her luxury garments, with their careful detail and craftsmanship, have won her international acclaim.

CTM brought Makhetha-Kwinana together with the in-house design and technical teams at Ceramic Industries for the project. “Thabo’s local design language, world-class workmanship and far-reaching vision made her the ideal collaborative partner,” says Patrizia Cortese, Ceramic Industries’ product and development manager. Ceramic Industries worked closely with Makhetha-Kwinana to create a limited-edition range that reflects her vision and brings authentic, 21st-century African fashion design to ceramics.

Makhetha-Kwinana was able to lean on the Ceramic Industries team for their expertise in applying her ideas. Whereas fashion designers are constantly aware of how fabric drapes over and moves with a body, tile design plays by another set of rules. “A flat surface needs to have life and interaction as people move in and out of the home,” says Makhetha-Kwinana.

With the help of the Ceramic Industries design and technical teams, the feature tile certainly achieves that. Makhetha-Kwinana tells a story through the details she adds to her tile, and they’re brought to life with some of the tile manufacturer’s technical innovations. The tiles feature a lustre effect and reactive inks that reproduce the sheen and feel of textiles and bring some hidden details into view.

Complementing the feature tile are the Makhetha Ivory profiled wall tile and Makhetha Earth floor tile. The 300 x 600mm profiled wall tile comes in a satin finish and creates contemporary style through its faceted surface. The 600 x 600mm floor tile features earthy tones and a reproduction of the organic variation and fine cracks of handmade natural flooring. But the star of the show is surely the Makhetha feature tile, with its authentic Southern African ethnic geometric motifs and subtle shimmer effect.

Together the tiles form a sophisticated look, drawing on a rich cultural heritage, natural elements and contemporary techniques – which fits squarely in the eclectic modern design trend in home design some have labelled ‘the creative hub’. This trend employs an eclectic mix of retro 1960s graphics and shapes, as well as ethnic African motifs and colours that surprise and delight.

Makhetha-Kwinana says the feeling she hopes to evoke from her tile design is of an “awakening” of pride in the cultural richness of Africa and comfort in the familiar. “This is our home, and these are our stories, and we’re getting to translate them and showcase them in a different way,” she says of the reaction she was aiming to invoke. From CTM and Ceramic Industries’ point of view, the collaboration has resulted in an exclusive designer range that resonates with customers, and surprises them – all at an affordable price.

South African pride, world-class quality, and a design vision that’s inspired in equal parts by our local roots and new innovations – these are qualities that Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana and Ceramic Industries share. This collaboration is the first CTM has undertaken, but it won’t be the last. “South Africa is rich in design talent, cultural traditions and inventiveness,” says Cortese. “We look forward to drawing out even more of this talent and bringing it to South African homes.”

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