USM presents ‘Culture Sculptures’, an exhibition at Design Miami 2021, showing the work of three winners from the Hue+Man Design Competition. Debuted in early 2020 with the aim of fighting systemic racism in the design industry, and launched in collaboration with Kevin Jones’ Joba Studio, the initiative aims to promote emerging designers of colour through funding and mentorship.

‘Our identities are formed by nuanced life experiences that encompass people, circumstances, events, beliefs, traditions, and values,’ says Jones. ‘Sculptural objects also profoundly impact the structure of our lives. The Hue+Man Design Competition, along with my work with the USM Haller system, seek to explore these experiences that influence our identity.’

Installation made of USM bookcases

‘Culture Sculptures’ features the work of competition winners Margaret Waiyego Zollinger, Peter Mukhaye, and Amukelani Mathebula, displayed through a twisting pyramid structure designed by Jones, an interpretation of a classic bookcase design using the USM Haller System. The winners were selected by a jury including artist Shantell Martin, designer Stephen Burks and visual artist Osborne Macharia. 

Hue+Man Design Competition winners

Two drawings of concentric circles, ‘Topography of Adaption’ by Margaret Waiyego Zollinger, winner of Hue+Man competition
‘Topography of Adaption’ by Margaret Waiyego Zollinger

Awarded first place in the competition, the work of Margaret Waiyego Zollinger is based, she explains, on a visualisation of the acculturation process. The ‘Topography of Adaption’ features images referencing what ‘people go through during the process of integrating into a foreign society’. Each topographic artwork was created following a series of interviews with unknown people from whom she collects values, norms and data to start the the visualization of the integration process.

Photo of men in white lab coats, from Peter Mukhaye’s Twaja photo project, for Hue+Man design competition
An image from Peter Mukhaye’s Twaja photo project

Second place was awarded to Peter Mukhaye, whose interpretation of the ‘Culture Sculptures’ theme was based on the concept of revival. ‘Being handed the topic sent me into a deep dive of research into aspects of our African history that still bear relevance to this date,’ he says. His project’s focus is the history of Edward Makuka Nkoloso, a Zambian who in the 1960s attempted to enter Zambia in the space race to the Moon. Working on this photographic project, Mukhaye explains, ‘got me to a point of questioning the relevance of Africa as the “cradle of life” in these modern times.’

Small table with yellow lampshade by Amukelani Mathebula for Hue+Man competition
Furniture by Amukelani Mathebula

Furniture designer Amukelani Mathebula was chosen for the third place, with two furniture pieces inspired by South African Bantu culture. ‘The collection drew inspiration from the Tsonga culture’s traditional attire, music, dance and art. I took elements from all of these aspects of the culture to come to the final design,’ he says. 

‘As a Black creative, rarely do you see other people who look like you being recognised as masters and champions of their crafts,’ comments Osborne Macharia. ‘It doesn’t mean that they do not exist, it’s just that such stories get muted in comparison to stories of people who are not of colour.’ §