Top3Tuesday: Mokena Makeka

Mokena Makeka is the founder and owner of Makeka Design Lab, an internationally recognised design practice founded in 2002, that deploys innovative design solutions at the urban, architectural, cultural and installation scale. Raised in Maseru and New York, he is an accomplished architect, urbanist, and design theoretician, and a leading voice on entrepreneurial development, design and property strategy. Mokena Makeka is one the 40 cultural leaders of WEF17, Davos/Klosters alongside such luminaries as Shakira and Forest Whitaker, recognised for speaking truth to power and seeking to change the world for better. He is also the founder of both; the House of Makeka, a premium lifestyle suite of design and product experiences and MoDILA, the only independent museum in South Africa devoted exclusively to contemporary and historic design. Mokena is a Desmond Tutu, Oxford fellow in leadership, an Aliko Dangote Fellow, and is Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.

A strong believer in good architecture as a basic human right, Mokena outlines deep rooted inspirations in design, architecture and music in this month’s Top3Tuesday.

3Mercedes SL Gullwing

Mercedes 300 SL (1954)

The Mercedes gull-wing was a technological, aesthetic and design marvel that even made us wonder what is the nature of a door? It’s sleek lines, undeniable sensual aspects make it today easily one of the top car designs of the 20th century. Approached form various angles, it exudes a cheeky old world charm, but a sense of being comfortable creating its own rules. It’s the only car that we wish we could drive with the doors open. It set convention aside and inspires generations of car design in its wake. It’s a tribute to discipline, problem solving, curiosity and courage… and of course style.

2The Barcelona Pavilion

The Barcelona Pavilion. Mies van der Rohe (1929)

I was once told by fellow architects that incredible architecture could make you cry, lick the walls, and want to sleep naked on the floor… I was a skeptic… The Barcelona pavilion- brought tears to my eyes when I first stepped into it. Light-years ahead of its time, it’s understanding of space and the human body, made me shudder. It felt both intellectually stimulating and profoundly welcoming easy, even loving. At the time architecture was a very traditional discipline weighted by what it looked like, not what it felt like to be in it. The Pavilion was a revolution in designing with space, and using emptiness to make the human body feel complete. It’s magnificent, and remains as radical as E=mc² in terms of designing with space.

1Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J)

LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)

Hip hop had several clear revolutions… where the proverbial fish left the sea and decided to walk on land. Mama Said Knock You Out– showed the Hip Hop world that a fish could run. LL Cool J’s verbal performance across the album has yet to be equalled in depth, impact and dexterity. Every beat is conceived as standalone song with complex progressions, breaks, and a raw energy that made Hip Hop what it is today.  The percussion is ridiculous and most importantly it’s a song inspired by his mother who told him to reclaim his throne in hip hop. “Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years,” remains one of the most potent braggadocio lines to ever start a track… it had me speechless when I first heard,  my heart skipped a beat and I started to nod my head.