Play with UCT’S African Lego blocks

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Traditional patterns and prints come to life as the university’s business school embraces unconventional innovation.

Adults are overrated and I most often find myself hanging out with the kids at parties, so I am not unfamiliar with plastic building blocks.But it’s been a while since I sat alone and cross-legged on my bed, building Lego structures while sipping a glass of wine. (Okay, maybe a bottle. Don’t tell Zahara.)

The blocks came my way because the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business is rebranding and its press kit caught my eye.Admittedly, the standards aren’t that high – we recently got a huge wooden chest delivered to the office that had to be prized open. Inside was some soil, a sack and three bottles of detergent. Apparently it was a shipwreck, treasure island-themed detergent.

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Very different to this beautiful box called Build, with its blue, white and black blocks that offered various African patterns to build into the walls of the school’s iconic building, the old Breakwater Prison turret in Cape Town. And it contained three artworks that one could frame, and I did.

This design did what it said on the tin – it showed that the school embraces innovation, that it is focused on rethinking the box – not just thinking outside it – and is able to convey a business brand message with both style and payoff.

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The Build box is the product of a collaboration between the university and South African designer and artist Faatimah Mohamed-Luke. She has been studying traditional pattern making and prints across the continent, and has been creating various scaled works from building blocks.

After studying fashion and graphic and industrial design, Mohamed-Luke created her own design brand and worked commercially across the design spectrum before settling into art and research.

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