Grad Guide 2020: Masego Morgan

An important principle belies Masego Morgan‘s playful design style, which she describes as “kindercore” – calling to mind both her vibrant colour pallete and frequent use of rounded organic forms, as well as her commitment to sustainability. So much so that having graduated now with her major in graphic design, she has begun her postgraduate in Sustainable Development. During her studies last year she co-founded cnscs_ (pronounced conscious), a platform whereby her interests in fashion, design and the environment converge. For 10and5’s annual Grad Guide, we spoke with Morgan about creating with purpose and using design to forward the conversation around low-impact living, with an emphasis on preservation and repair.

Masego Morgan. Photograph by Jonathan Kope for Sindiso Khumalo.

What did you study?

I did my BA degree in visual communication and majored in graphic design.

What drew you to pursue a path in design?

I love fashion, but I do not want to be a fashion designer. I believe we have so many talented fashion designers in South Africa and I would rather help them with their communications about their brand story, than actually design and produce garments myself.

Tell us about the work you created in your final year. Any projects that stand out for you?

Throughout my degree, I tried to focus on different aspects of sustainability and bring that into the work I did wherever possible. In my last year I was able to explore sustainability in the concepts a lot more thanks to the freedom and guidance of my lecturer Henriette Rademan. The project I loved conceptualizing the most for my degree was Boro.ed, the antidote to fast and wasteful fashion. Boro.ed – derived from the Japanese term ‘Boro’ meaning worn(out), in reference to the born-out-of-necessity patchwork technique used by low-income communities during Japan’s Edo period – is an educational mending platform and community. The name is a way for me to pay tribute to my Japanese heritage and the sustainable practices of my ancestors. I wanted to create a place where consumers could learn about different mending techniques and how to utilise them to refurbish and refashion what would be their clothing waste. For me, humanities stories are woven into clothes, and Boro.ed would help consumers change their clothes story from one of waste and overconsumption to one of preservation and repair.

Outside of college, I started a passion project called cnscs_ (pronounced conscious), with my best friend Stella Hertantyo. We created a platfom that aimed to create inclusive conversations around sustainable fashion. We intended to host in-person events but due to Covid-19, it became a solely online platform. It’s grown and changed over the last year and now we aim to focus on sharing African stories and decolonising the current sustainability narrative not only in fashion. Initially, we wanted to inspire South Africans showing how accessible low-impact life/style can be and celebrating how many indigenous (South) African people have been practising sustainability for centuries out of tradition and sometimes out of necessity. We’ve found, due to solely being online, that we now are able to inspire our global audience with the (South) African stories we share. Although we hope in the future we can host clothing swaps, thrift tours and panels safely.


What is your approach or philosophy as a designer? 

I always want to create with purpose and I’m very aware that what I create can either negatively or positively impact the world. So I try not to create more waste, but I also want things to be fun and joyful, even when talking about serious topics. In the words of Japanese environmental minister Shinjiro Koizumi, “In politics there are so many issues, sometimes boring. On tackling such a big-scale issue like climate change, it’s got to be fun, it’s got to be cool. It’s got to be sexy too.”

How would you describe your style or aesthetic to someone who’d never seen your work before? 

Kindercore, maybe. It’s playful and colourful. I’m inspired by designs I saw while living in Copenhagen and Tokyo. I am inspired by the iconography and colour combinations of many South African indigenous cultures and I often use South Africa’s flora and fauna as inspiration for colour palettes.


Who would you most like to collaborate with in the local creative sphere?

So many local creatives I’d love to collaborate with in some way but if I had to choose one it be Good Good Good. I love the steps they are taking as a brand to make sure their garments are traceable and being open and transparent about that, to the point of publicly naming the different mills their fabrics come from – I haven’t seen many brands do that, despite calling themselves transparent (lol). I also love the way they collaborate with different artists and creatives in South Africa, both for their fashion collections and t-shirt drops. I have a few pieces from Good Good Good and they’ve become core pieces in my closet.

What are your plans for 2021?

I’m doing my postgraduate in Sustainable Development at the Sustainable Institution in Stellenbosch and will continue to create content with Stella Hertantyo for our platform cnscs_.

Follow @coconut_cracked on Instagram.

Geel. Photograph by SamaSama.

Grad Guide is an annual series from Between 10and5, profiling some of South Africa’s most exciting creative graduates across the fields of fashion, art, photography and design. Find the full 2020 Grad Guide here.

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