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Design Indaba Emerging Creatives 2023 Curator Chosen

Multidisciplinary artist Nene Mahlangu announced as curator of the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives 2023

In 2019, Neo ‘Nene’ Mahlangu made history as the youngest woman to ever design two coins for the South African Mint and the first to design a coin with a black girl’s face on it. The groundbreaking multidisciplinary artist and entrepreneur, who is based in Johannesburg, has been named as the curator of the 2023 iteration of the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives. A former Design Indaba Emerging Creative herself, she will hand-pick 20 new talents to be inducted into the programme.

Mahlangu made her international debut with an exhibition at the Venice International Art Fair in 2020 and has since exhibited in Birmingham, Ibiza, Finland and Lagos. Most recently, she was selected as the lead visual artist for Grammy-award-winning DJ and producer Black Coffee’s 2022 Hï Ibiza residency for which she created 23 artworks. The highly accomplished Ga-Rankuwa-born artist has been nominated for several awards, amongst them the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) ImpACT Awards for Young Professionals in 2020. She was also listed as one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans in the same year.

“To be able to contribute to a platform that both nurtures and boosts the incredible artistic potential of our country is such an honour. I am looking forward to seeing all of 2023’s entries!”

Nene Mahlangu, curator for Design Indaba Emerging Creatives 2023

This 2018 Design Indaba Emerging Creative is inspired by sensuality, fashion and religion, and her pieces often comment on womanhood as defined by the cultural, racial and political context of South African daily reality. Mahlangu’s ethereal representations employ diverse mediums – from digital illustration to acrylic and charcoal paintings – to both criticise and examine patriarchal society.

Mahlangu established a company called GreenMango to help upcoming artists polish their entrepreneurial skills. It was through GreenMango that she launched a course called ‘Intro To Pricing Your Art’ to guide emerging visual artists to price their artworks confidently and in ways that can fund their practices sustainably. Mahlangu is passionate about uplifting the next generation of artists in South Africa – particularly women artists – and is the perfect choice to be curating a programme that does just that.

This is the 18th year of South Africa’s most prestigious creative developmental programme, which is supported by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. In 2021, Design Indaba received 470 applications to participate in the Class of 2022. Since the new round of applications opened in September 2022, there have already been over 110 new submissions for the Class of 2023. Applications close on 30 November 2022 and we await the next generation of design superstars as selected by Mahlangu.


Are you – or is someone you know – one of these 20 creative sensations? Apply to become part of the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives.

For more information on Nene Mahlangu