Industrial designer Olebogeng Mathibe on creating human-centred products to empower

Olebogeng “Ole” Mathiba is an industrial design grad from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg. Ole always had a keen interest in art, which led her to pick design as a major at her art-centric high school, Pro Arte Alphen Park.

This helped Ole realise that this was the direction she wanted to go in. After researching various different options, she settled on industrial design, as she was interested in the problem solving aspect of the field – she felt that the subject would help her to develop her skills as a designer, as well as allowing her to utilise her skills to fulfil her potential as a human.

Ole’s work has a strong focus on social responsibility, and her design ethos is to always produce human-centred and sustainable work. This helped to inform the designer’s final project, which saw her design a clamp to be used in a workshop environment.

Solar Light design project

Her process involved interviewing people directly in order to find out what the biggest issues they were having with their already existing clamps, and to work around those while ensuring that safety was taken into consideration at all stages. The result was an F-clamp, which doubles as a clamp-on wheel, which converts any movable object into a trolley, allowing individuals working alone the same possibilities as people who work in teams, or with more sophisticated technology.

The general consensus is that student life is tough, and Ole shares those sentiments. She describes being a student as a full-time job, and mentions how hard it is to juggle “attending lectures, the workload, sleepless nights, day to day activities and keeping up with everything else going on in the world”. But, luckily, the process has equipped her with management skills, which she sees as having groomed her for success.

Product positioning for the clamp
Product positioning for clamp project

South African has an undoubtedly rich and diverse cultural heritage, and Ole is keen to be a part of that and to see it grow. For her, the most exciting part of the South African creative industry is seeing people own their African identity. At the same time, Ole is very aware of the legacy apartheid has left on our country, and hopes to use her work to uplift previously disadvantaged groups. In ten years, she hopes to be in a space that allows her to, “fulfil my responsibilities as an Industrial designer and enable South Africans afflicted by inequality to increase their capabilities with technologies designed to empower them”.

We can’t wait to see it happen.

Product Mock up for the clamp
Product Mock up for the clamp
Tea infuser project

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