A designer at the very forefront of African fashion, Rich Mnisi founded his eponymous label in 2015. Born in Kempton Park, Johannesburg in 1991, he graduated from LISOF School of Fashion in 2014 and was named Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa that same year.
Widely heralded for his fusion of contemporary pop culture and traditional African heritage, Mnisi’s designs infuse his own personal narrative into extremist yet minimalist structures. He works across genders, seasons, geographical lines and creative disciplines, with a twin devotion to craftsmanship and experimentation.
His work has made international headlines in media outlets such as Dazed and Confused, i-D, Vice, VOGUE Italia, WWD and Sunday Times. He draws influences from film, music and photography, and he frequently art directs editorial and campaign shoots.
Mnisi made his furniture debut with two pieces for Southern Guild in 2018: Nwa-Mulamula’s Chaise and Nwa-Mulamula’s Tears. These organic-shaped pieces are an extension of his NwaMulamula fashion collection – a homage to the memory of his late great-grand mother, an ever-present guardian whose teachings have lived on in his family through storytelling generation after generation. The upholstered organic-shaped chaise and bronze tear-shaped stool were commissioned by Southern Guild for a group show of multidisciplinary artists, titled Extra Ordinary.
The designer ‘s second collection of seating, Alkebulan, is featured in the 2019 group show, Communion. In the same year, Mnisi won Emerging Designer of the Year at the Essence Best in Black Fashion awards, and also made the 2019 Forbes #30under30 list.
In October 2021, Mnisi held his first solo exhibition of collectible furniture, titled Nyoka, at Southern Guild. The collection – comprising seating, a console, chandelier, rug and other objects – is a bold exploration of shape and fluidity, brought vividly to life in a rich array of materials including bronze, wool, resin and glass. Nyoka drew on Mnisi’s family history and African mythology, and played with the duality of fear and beauty epitomised by the image of a snake, which gave the show its title in Xitsonga.