Textile designer Bonolo Chepape on her new, heritage-inspired work for fast food chain Nando’s

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Bonolo Chepape shares her fashion designer passion with the world.
Bonolo Chepape shares her fashion designer passion with the world.

While waiting for her mother to finish working, she would sit down with a book and pencil and start sketching.

This ignited Bonolo Chepape's love for graphic design and illustration.

Now the designer has partnered with Nando's in a project that will see her textile designs being displayed on the walls, ceiling panels and even the chairs at Nando's.

The founder of textile design consultancy studio Lula’s Clan tells Drum how she went from drawing in her mom's tuck shop in Rustenburg, North West, to creating African-inspired prints for the restaurant chain.

“I wanted to be a doctor and I applied at Wits and got accepted to study medicine, but I decided to change while designing my matric dance gown because I love to sketch and draw," Bonolo recalls.

"I showed my cousin who was going to make the dress at the time [the design]. She is the one who encouraged me to pursue a career in graphic design and it made sense. I did my research and I fell in love with this career path,” she says.

Bonolo then studied graphic design and fell in love with textile design while working in the advertising industry. She says she loved how patterns and shapes can be formed and how they can speak to brands and how they can tell a story. As a textile designer, she enjoys working across different industries.

Read more | Award-winning fashion designer from Khayelitsha takes his brand Imprint to the world

“My textile style stems from trying to reinterpret the African aesthetic in a contemporary way. Over time I just developed a visual language, style and design associated with my patterns that people can recognise. And if you know the work, you will understand that it is heritage-inspired.”

She says she creates designs for clients in fashion and hospitality and gets to work across various industries. Speaking of her collaboration with Nando's she adds, “I try to design heritage-inspired textile designs that speak to different brands and also tell a story of different concepts. I was approached by Studio H for the pop-up collaboration with Nando's and they told me I have the creative freedom.”

Bonolo says she looked to Mozambican architecture for inspiration when she started the project.

“This was a trip down memory lane for me. There was a time I went to Mozambique on a Nando's project, and I was inspired by the buildings and how they play with shapes. They almost look like patterns.

"I wanted to bring that through with this project and speak to the brand's heritage but also, in a fun and playful contemporary way. The designs are playful and echo the experimental purpose of the space. They are meant to inspire someone and be coulourful,” she says.

"My designs have a lot of colour because it shows the more optimistic side of Africa," she adds.

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