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          Design Miami.LA Talks Program 2024 - Rich Mnisi, Rogan Gregory, Jamie Bush and Darren Romanelli
          Rich Mnisi included in Design Miami.LA Talk: 'Confluence of Cultures: The New Creative World-Maker'

          16 May 2024 (2 min) read

          South African fashion and functional sculpture designer Rich Mnisi will be in conversation with artist and designer from R & Company Rogan Gregory, designer, curator and creative director at Friedman Benda, Darren Romanelli, and principal at Jamie Bush and Co., Jamie Bush on May 18, at 1:15 pm (PST).

          Working at the intersection of design, art, fashion, and commerce, these multi-hyphenate creatives share multi-disciplinary approaches to both world-building and story-telling. From wearable to functional design, these artists create ever-expanding multiverses that revolutionise the ways in which we perceive and interact with art. The speakers will discuss the impetus, opportunities and challenges of working at the intersection of design, art, fashion, and commerce, offering insights into their multi-disciplinary approaches to world-building and story-telling.

          From Charlotte Perriand to Le Corbusier, the design world has embraced the confluence of product design, architecture and fashion. In the 20th century, the influence of architecture and design in fashion and vice versa has been apparent, as seen in Art Deco and Art Nouveau, Abstract Expressionism, and Minimalist movements. In the 1960s, Pop Art gave rise to a deeper synergy between these disciplines, with fashion becoming not only a mode of individual expression but also a vehicle for social and political commentary. In the 21st century, contemporary artists and designers have meaningfully contributed to high fashion and street style, with fashion houses like Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Schiaparelli, Loewe, Supreme, Adidas, and others embracing artists’ and designers’ role within cultural formation. The platforms created by this wider visibility have impacted the careers of artists, while also propelling the innovative impulse of fashion to transform and reinvent itself.

          The roles of globalisation and technology, seen in digital art and printing techniques, have also furthered the reach of this influence, while unique artworks, limited-edition pieces, and collectible design bring into focus the importance of sustainability and ethical consumption.

          The common thread between the hybridized practices of these three speakers is collaboration: explored through brand alignments; partnering with other artisans, craftsman, and designers; skills-sharing and transferral; and a dedication to sustainability, upcycling, and ethical consumption.

          By working across disciplines and emphasising the impact of collaborative methods, these designers look to the ever-expanding possibilities of converging creativity and cultural exchange.



          Born in Johannesburg in 1991, Rich Mnisi’s broad design vision embraces fashion and functional sculpture. His work flows according to the themes and motifs he returns to and continually pushes forward: the women in his life, queerness and the VaTsonga tribe. Mnisi graduated from Johannesburg’s LISOF School of Fashion in 2014, following which he was named Africa Fashion International Young Designer of the Year at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa. He founded his eponymous label in 2015, creating genderless, seasonless collections infused with his own personal narrative and heritage. When designing objects of furniture, Mnisi frees himself from received assumptions of their base features and functional characteristics. Rather than being led by ideas of how a chaise or console table should look, his approach is organic, beginning with moulding the pieces in clay and drawing from human figures or his own memory. His unconventional use of shape, colour and texture is rooted in his appreciation of his Tsonga culture filtered through a queer lens. Mnisi’s foray into functional art began with Nwa-Mulamula's Chaise and Nwa-Mulamula's Tears, 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 in 2018. His first solo exhibition of sculptural furniture, titled Nyoka (meaning snake in Xitsonga), was a bold exploration of shape and fluidity, brought to life through vivid contrasts of forms and materials, including bronze, wool, resin and glass.Nyoka was made in collaboration with several South African artisan studios including Monkeybiz, Coral & Hive and Bronze Age Studio. Mnisi’s work has been presented by Southern Guild at Design Miami and Investec Cape Town Art Fair. His second solo with the gallery, Dzuvula (Shedding Skin) opened in Cape Town in February 2024.


          Both growing up on Long Island in an eccentric family of dairy farmers as well as in a small clan of renowned designers, photographers and artists in Manhattan formed the foundation of Jamie Bush's interest in design, specifically with an eye toward the natural world. After studying architecture in New Orleans and in Italy, Bush relocated to Los Angeles to focus his design practice on the unsung heroes of mid-century modern residential architecture. It was here that he founded Jamie Bush + Co. in 2002, and has since worked on some of the most significant historical residential modernist homes in the US. Recognised for his ability to blur the lines between architecture and interior design, his ethos has always been to approach the design of a space as one holistic vision. Admired for his relevant and keen understanding of architecture and design, Bush’s designs have been featured in over 100 publications worldwide including Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Vogue, Elle Decor, Wall Street Journal, Wallpaper, Los Angeles Times as well as several coffee table books. Bush is currently a member of the Tulane School of Architecture Board of Advisors and has been honored into both the AD 100 top global architects and designers of the year, as well as Elle Decor’s A-List of top designers. He splits his time between Los Angeles and his houseboat on Long Island close to his family.


          Rogan Gregory’s (b. 1972) work reflects his life-long interest in abstract forms, geology, ecological systems, evolutionary biology, and the impact of humans on the natural world. Inspired by the ways in which elements and the continuum of time shape our world, Gregory works repetitively, fluent with the recurring developmental processes of life on earth. Gregory began his career in the fashion industry. In 2001, he designed his first eponymous clothing line and later became a leading voice in sustainable fashion. His early Manhattan atelier featured monumental wood benches, tables, and chairs that he had designed and made himself. The space reflected Gregory’s incredible ability as a craftsman and his attention to the ways that objects are experienced in space and in dialogue as a cohesive whole—sensibilities that he has carried forward in his career. Beginning at a very early age Rogan spent any spare time using his hands in the studio working on a sculpture or artwork. Time spent in the studio making art began to take up all of his time and eventually eclipsed his fashion career. Gregory began making sculpture, at intimate and large scale. Through this 3-dimensional expression Gregory was able to articulate his true vision. “I produce works that encourage sensory and emotional engagement with the evolutionary processes deeply embedded in our consciousness.”
          Gregory meditates on line and proportion to achieve incongruous balance and asymmetrical harmony; ultimate truths in nature. He works in a wide range of time-honored materials such as stone, bronze and wood, pairing these known materials with those less familiar to develop aggregated surfaces that elude simple classification. This process is best realized in Gregory’s Fertility Form series, where he sculpturally interprets the cycle of life— intercourse, fertilization, cell division, and subsequent processes— to create functional objects that take on a presence of their own. The artist has also begun to experiment with upholstery, using shearling to further encourage physical engagement with his work and defy the boundaries between art, design, and sculpture. Altogether, Gregory shows a unique mythos that is elegantly executed through minimal forms and distinct materials, seamlessly translated into sculptural and functional pieces. “We have become separate from our evolutionary past and from each other...as so many aspects of our daily experiences are mediated through flat screens. My work reintroduces asymmetrical amorphous forms, textures and colors into our uniform, rectilinear environments. In doing so, I hope to evoke joy, and emotion more broadly, to encourage new connections to and awareness of our biosphere because it is critical to our existence, to our health, and to our conversations about sustaining life...” Gregory has been featured in prominent media outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Wallpaper, Surface Magazine, and more. Gregory’s work has been exhibited and sold in galleries and fairs around the world. Gregory is currently based in Santa Monica, California.


          Darren Romanelli (b. 1976), who also goes by the monikers of Dr. Romanelli or DRx, has over 20 years of experience in curation and creative direction. Over the last twenty years, Romanelli has been instrumental in bridging the gap between art, culture, and commerce in ways that have revolutionized how artists and brands collaborate to create moments that inspire on a global scale. Inspired by his dedication to sustainability and upcycling, Romanelli’s numerous collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Kendrick Lamar, Coca Cola, Mickey Mouse, Los Angeles Rams, Adidas, Gucci, Levi’s, Nike, Converse, Jaeger Le Coultre, Fraggle Rock, Grateful Dead and Modernica have straddled the sports, design, music, art, food and fashion disciplines.


          The Design Miami.LA Talks Program will be presented by Architectural Digest and will take place in parallel with the inaugural design fair at the Holmby Hills estate. Curated by Ashlee Harrison, the program will spotlight both local and international thought leaders, while celebrating the best of design and reflecting on Los Angeles’s rich creative legacy as a touchpoint to consider how the city inspires global design conversations.

          The fair is by invitation only. Register your interest in attending here.