Karabo Poppy Talks Design & Creating an Afrofuturistic Location Sticker for WeWork Johannesburg

Global workspace company, WeWork recently opened its first office in Johannesburg. Located in Rosebank, the co-working space takes up six floors of The Link building on Oxford Road.

To bring life to the culture of collaborative working spaces, WeWork collaborated with illustrator, graphic designer and street artist Karabo Poppy to design their official location stickers.

Karabo Poppy and a representative from WeWork filled us in on the collaboration and how it came about.

Karabo Poppy:

How would you describe this style of work?

Great question. It’s quite difficult to describe this style of work but what I would say is that it has Afrofuturism tones that make it quite unique. The sticker lends itself to a contemporary African aesthetic which is presented in a graphic and bold manner synonymous with traditional African barbershop signage you often see in South Africa.

What influenced the style, design, and colours used?

I was inspired by Johannesburg; I love the energy and aesthetic of the city, especially at night. The city lights–buildings, car lights, traffic lights, street lights and the glow of the stars too–give the city a beautiful finish every day. The sticker design celebrates the beauty of my hometown, and includes the iconic buildings and monuments of Johannesburg.

How long did it take you to illustrate this?

Once I met with the WeWork community team based at The Link to learn more about the location stickers, it took me around two days to complete the sticker design. I had so much fun creating the different elements – it came very naturally.

You’ve worked with a number of brands in the past, but WeWork is one that promotes creativity and the kind of work that you do. How did it feel working with the brand?

I have loved working with a number of different brands that–like WeWork–foster creativity and innovation. For me, this partnership with WeWork was a special one because it provides artists, like me, with a cool and inspiring place to create and design. I am now a WeWork member and use their office space in Johannesburg and around the world.

WeWork representative:

Can you tell us more about WeWork and your location stickers?

WeWork is a global workspace company; we provide our members with well-designed spaces and a diverse community.

WeWork is present in 111 cities around the world and our stickers are a fun and creative way to celebrate the locality of our spaces. From Tel Aviv to New York City, the stickers avoid the typical, go-to city icons in favour of something a little more unexpected; we create authentic, unique artwork that represents the individuality of each city. At WeWork, design–including artwork and graphics–is an important aspect of what we do and we see our stickers as local, cultural elements that play a part in our design playbook.

We opened our first building in Johannesburg this August, located at The Link (173 Oxford Road), and will open our second building, 155 West Street located in Sandton, later in the year. Our new sticker (designed by Karabo Poppy) commemorates our community here in Johannesburg.

How did the collaboration between WeWork and Karabo Poppy come about?

At WeWork, we love to work with local artists who have a unique, creative flair and embody the culture of their hometown. Karabo Poppy is a well-known creative in Johannesburg and we could not think of a more perfect artist to collaborate with for this project. Our community has built a relationship with Karabo–now a WeWork member–who was thrilled when asked to create a WeWork ‘badge of honour’ that represents everything unique and soulful about her hometown.

What influenced your decision to work with the well-known illustrator?

WeWork’s global-local design playbook is a combination of its familiar overarching aesthetic, with a unique and localised twist that is often expressed through collaborating with local artists and vendors who demonstrate creativity and innovation. The design process for our stickers is no different: our team of designers not only take time to explore the city’s history and culture, but also collaborate with local artists who live or have grown up in each city to ensure the final sticker design is accurate, local and authentic.

With Karabo’s established presence as a respected and celebrated black female illustrator in South Africa, we knew she would bring something new and distinctive to our signature stickers. With its vibrant blue and orange colour combination and traditional African aesthetic, the sticker includes the city’s skyline, the Orlando Towers and the Nelson Mandela bridge – representing the city perfectly.

Are the stickers available to the open public?

Available at community desks for both members and visitors from around the world, our stickers are often collected and displayed on laptops and notebooks–a modern take on vintage suitcase sticker collections. We love to see our community enjoy the stickers as much as we do.

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