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Jewellery that makes a wearable declaration of Art: An interview with the creator of Inkaturah designs

What’s most striking about the Inkaturah brand is its modern take on natural materials. I would first come into contact with this brand at Market on Main, which takes place on Sundays in the Maboneng district. My first piece from the brand would be her black choker with a minimalist gold statement jewel in the shape of a small pillar that would well accentuate any long neck line. Her distinct style offers it’s wearer a statement piece that forms a part of the wearer’s style without distracting the eye from their outfit.

I got to interview the originator of this unique brand, Siphathisiwe Hlongwane who explains how “each statement piece gives the wearer an opportunity to express themselves and is designed to be a miniature piece of art” (Inkaturah, 2016).

Motlatsi Khosi (MK):   Please could you tell our Bubblegum readers a bit about yourself and how you got into Jewellery design?

Siphathisiwe Hlongwane (SH):  I have always been creatively inclined and learnt how to draw from the age of 5. I learnt various techniques and art forms over the years and chose to study architecture. I completed my Masters in 2012 and worked in the profession for two years. I ventured into the fashion industry to follow my passion, working for a global and locally based fashion brand. I began designing and selling jewellery as a second source of income and soon decided to pursue this full time, as I fell in love with the process and collections.

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MK:  Please explain the inspiration behind your designs and what characterized the Inkaturah brand.

SH: Inkaturah means “In essence”. The brand name is derived from Katurah, my second name which means perfume. The analogy of a person’s scent to their character is often used to characterise one’s person.  Inkaturah becomes the character found within their spirit.

 My business is a contemporary African jewellery brand which creates unique pieces for the woman who loves art and wants to make a statement. The aesthetic is a combination of layering of geometries with materials. I have merged the conceptual skills I gained in architecture with my fascination with colour and materials.

The designs are inspired by various aspects. Some take on the shape of symbolic pieces, such as the drum Ring which is shaped like a little drum. Others are created by using the “negative pieces” or the off cuts and often result in equally beautiful designs as the original piece.

Some of my other pieces are created to be multifunctional, offering the wearer the opportunity to express two separate aspects of themselves.  I design templates from which the stained wood is laser cut. The resulting geometric shapes are layered with glass beads, copper, fabric and brass, through hand assembly.

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MK: You mostly use metals and wood in your work. Please explain your choice of using natural materials and how it has impacted your jewellery design.

SH: I began using wood as this is a material that I am most familiar working with. I have chosen to include brass, copper, fabric and beads because it creates a great contrast to the wood, breaks monotony and allows for the exploration of various designs. Making a very small change can be the difference between a piece being greatly loved or unappreciated. By constantly introducing new materials it ensures that there are endless designs which keep clients looking forward to new works.

These materials have impacted my style of jewellery because they are reminiscent of Ancient African jewellery. They create a good balance with the Eurocentric nature of some of the geometries and designs and natural materials.

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MK: What are your plans for your brand and what should your followers be looking forward to in future in regards to your style and craft.

SH: There will be an online store coming soon and the pieces will soon be available globally to its growing foreign following. The intention is to reach as many different countries as possible and to be accessible to all those who appreciate the work.

There has also been a huge request for male collections and this will definitely be explored soon. The style will more or less remain the same as it is currently unique in its own way. The main focus will be on improving the quality, whilst introducing the presence of precious metals in the pieces. Once this has been well established it will be great to venture into other accessories such as bags and sandals.

You can follow Inkaturah designs on their Facebook page, or contact Siphathisiwe directly on info@inkaturah.co.za.

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