And this week we’d like you to meet Tshepo Sealetsa. A remarkable creative, gifted with the ability of creating unique modern, luxurious interiors. You may recognize him as a runner up on SABC 3’s reality home make over competition, Win A Home. Although he may not have won the coveted prize, his exquisite taste and passion for detail was certainly felt by many, resulting in him and his team member, Banele Khoza, being awarded with the Fan Favourite award for the competition.
We caught up with him recently to discuss his career journey, his twerk anthems and what he finds fulfilling.
You received a nod from 2018’s run of the Design Indaba. Tell us about that.
Being part of the Design Indabas Emerging Creatives main class of 2018 was incredible. It is such an outstanding accolade to have on my resume and to some extent, it does make me feel like I am doing something right. The experience was out of this world, I got to meet some of the most incredible creatives within and outside of my field of work and I also got to make a lot of valuable contacts.
Your design aesthetic is luxury. But it also seems to incorporate a combination of many design styles ( the minimalism of Scandinavian and the elegance Art Deco). As a young boy, what are some of the major influences that shaped your current design aesthetic?
My style is more modern luxury and I do like incorporating a classic piece here and there. The reason why there was a bit of a Scandinavian and art décor twist to the previous project I was involved in was because it was a collaboration and my design partner enjoys more Scandinavian pieces, as a result the outcome was a combination of both our design styles.
But at this point I feel that I am at a stage in my career where my design style is still in the development process and it is continually changing until I get to a stage where I find pieces that I will be a thousand percent comfortable working with. As a young boy I would say what influenced my design style was what I was constantly exposed to on television and magazines because where I grew up I can’t really say there was anything that I could associate with my idea of luxury.
You started off in architecture and later moved into interior design. Both fields require attention to detail. Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? And if so, what’s the one instance that’s made you realize this about yourself?
Thank you for allowing me to clarify this, I have never worked as an architect but I qualified as an Interior Architect at TUT. I worked for an architectural company, but I worked within their interior architectural department. The company focused more on commercial interiors and architecture. We worked on spaces like your ABSA towers, city lodge hotels etc.
I have always been a perfectionist and always paid attention to detail. A great part of being a perfectionist for me personally is understanding how the small details you overlook in the beginning will impact the outcome of whatever it is that you are doing. One instance that made it clear to me that I was a perfectionist was when I was starting out as a first-year student in interior design, my lecture always emphasized that artists don’t use erasers because “there is no such a thing as making a mistake” as “every skew and ‘unnecessary line’ you draw in your concepts will make sense at the end” of the sketch. I always had an eraser with me.
When I’ve hit a creative roadblock, I personally either dance to some trap music or watch clips of my favourite boisterous chef, Nigella Lawson. What are some of your sure-proof rituals that help you beat that creative block?
I put everything to a complete stop and listen to my collection of motivational audios which includes the likes of Eric Thomas, Les Brown (Mrs Mamie Browns baby boy hahahahaha he’s my favourite), Dr Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Mel Robbins (The lady that convinced me that motivation is absolute garbage because it is never there when you need it, and she’s so right because it is never there when I need it). Oh, and that is also my cue to go find something to eat or snack on. After this pause everything flows.
You’ve had an incredible journey so far as a designer and your Fan Favourite Award from the Win A Home competition is testament to the fact that people find you fascinating. What’s the toughest career lesson you’ve had to learn on your own?
I think one of the hardest lessons I had to learn and take in by myself was that as a creative you’re not always going to be everyone’s cup of tea and your style isn’t necessarily going to appeal to everyone, that doesn’t mean you are a horrible designer.
As a young, black, creative, what are some of the things that your career journey has made you realize about life and yourself?
Some of the things that my career journey has made me realize and taught me about life is that one of the best things you can ever do for yourself is to follow your heart and do what you love, you will be happier. Although there will always be that argument between your heart and your mind. There are things that the heart can feel and understand that the mind can never relate to. Leaving the commercial side of the industry to work in the residential side was what brought me to that realization.
Although in the commercial side that is where you will make more money as a designer, but I find residential more fulfilling, it makes me happier and it made me realize how passionate I am about living spaces. What the journey taught me about myself is that I am a very sentimental person I take how my clients receive my work to heart. Nothing makes me happier like seeing a client amazed by how their spaces turned out.
We know furniture design is something you want to get into. Can we expect a capsule collection or a collaboration with someone soon?
Oh yes, definitely! I would love to have my own furniture brand. I am still trying to knock on some doors and see what can happen but whether the doors do open or not, I owe it to myself and my mom to at least make a success of my career.
MUSIC: Top 3 songs on your playlist:
My playlist is usually a mess, but this is what is currently at the top of my playlist
– Maroon 5 ft Cardi B – Girls Like You
– Mariah Carey – Hero
– Travis Scott & Quavo – Modern Slavery
FOOD: The one meal you can’t get enough of currently
The one meal I cannot get enough of will have to be the Baobab Café & Grill’s Sweet Chilli Chicken which is made up of chicken breasts filled with mozzarella and peppadews, wrapped in bacon and topped with a creamy sweet chilli sauce. Shuuuu I am still to find my favourite meal to cook.
BOOKS: What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. What I find so funny is that I bought this book almost 2 and a half years ago and I only started reading it early this year. And the timing just feels so right, I feel so ready for the message and lessons that the book holds.
Obsessions/ guilty pleasure: What show are you currently obsessed with?
Lately, I’ve been all about binge watching Love & Hip Hop.
Tshepo Sealetsa is the true embodiment of black boy magic, proving once again, that passion and an authentic love for what you do are the true keys to success. We look forward to witnessing many more career highs for him and hope his successes will ignite the desire to hone in on your passion and give you the courage to take the next step in realizing your dreams.