.drawing.painting.embroidery.textiles.digital art .drawing.painting.embroidery.textiles.digital art
I was born in England to a Swiss father and Italian mother. We shortly after moved to South Africa where I grew up late into my teenage years. My family started the record label M.E.L.T. 2000. The record label has represented several amazing artists such as Busi Mhlongo, Flora Purim, Mabi Thobejane, Airto Moreira, Madala Kunene, Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, Juno Reactor, Shana (former band of Black Coffee), Mario Cee (now BadBox) and many more. My upbringing in South Africa had an influence on my art style, which was especially noticeable in my final A-Level Art and Design Textiles work. The use of bright colors, pattern work and figures were all used in my wax print designs as well as many of my drawings and later on in my custom sneakers work.
TVNDO is what I would call an “Art Fashion” brand. The idea of starting to make art out my own clothing started whilst I was a hip hop dancer. Part of the dancing was the creative looks we would come up with, at the time vintage clothing and skater fashion was a trend I followed.
In 2013, with the help of my good friend BVRGS, I created the first t-shirts of the TVNDO brand. My first couple of t-shirts I painted (“Faces”) were largely influenced by the “Madonna” T-shirt from Ricardo Tisci in Givenchy’s FW 2012 Menswear collection. From this point on, I started to develop an interest in painting faces. I continued to develop this theme, through my A-Levels with my “Man/Woman” cushion and most recently in “La Donna Vivace” embroidery piece. The translation I refer to for “Donna Vivace” is “lively or adventurous lady”.
Later on, I went to University in London for a brief time to study Architecture, at the time I approached this course as a way to learn about design and practical modern technologies such as 3D printing. Shortly after I returned to South Africa which was a time where I bonded on a new level with my father Robert. You see my father worked both in the Hi-Fi loudspeaker- and music business. Laurence Dickie, who is a person I look up to, along with my Dad handling the business end, created the B&W ‘Nautilus’ Loudspeaker. This speaker involves a beautiful design from nature’s Nautilus shells that works hand in hand with function. The curvature forms in this design have been a source of aspiration for me. Whereas with his music experience, Dad taught me how he learnt about African Culture and told me purely colorful and creative stories that he lived through.
Later I went on to do a workshop-style course in Barcelona on Fashion using additive manufacturing and alternative approaches in making eco-friendly clothing. Here I learnt how to use CAD software’s and parametric design, with the 3d printed objects being the result of this design process. From my previous experience at architecture school, I had grown fond of nature-inspired design such as the work of Neri Oxman’s Biomimicry design. The idea of branches and roots is one I learnt through working with computer simulated force vector fields and flocking systems, which later translated into my drawings and paintings.
Today I am working as a freelance artist and designer working on projects such as customized shoes, embroidery pieces, digital art and handmade drawings. In 2022, I made a pair of neon-light shoes in dedication to the South African artist Black Coffee. In these shoes I referenced my favorite album of his, “ Africa Rising” and I applied neon colours where I painted branches on the side of the shoe. I felt the neon was a nice touch, considering the many summer nights when he performs at his DJ residency in the Hii Ibiza nightclub. I am thrilled and grateful to Black Coffee for having reposted an image of these shoes and I hope he gets to wear them one day.
My most recent pair of customized shoes are “Le Donne Vivace”. The meaning here is “adventurous ladies” as they are two embroidery pieces. These embroidery pieces to rest on top of the shoes and are connected through the laces. The design was for a friend who is a fan of embroidery so my aim was to create an embroidered piece with some resemblance to her character and her colorful fashion-sense.
Shoes artwork for the ‘King of the Zulu Guitar’ Madala Kunene
In the process of digitizing the embroidery pieces of “Le Donna Vivace” for reproduction. I attempted to combine the digital version with a photo of Mam’Busi Mhlongo and to my surprise the combination worked wonders. It is now the front piece of the Mam’Busi x TVNDO Limited T-shirt collection, TVNDO’s first commercial product. Dad Robert had this in mind for a while as we want to pay homage to Busi and present her to a new generation. TVNDO started with me painting t-shirts for myself, then for friends and family. Today TVNDO DESIGN are doing exclusively limited and numbered production runs of 50 pieces as well as more commercial T-shirt designs. This evolution feels fulfilling to me and brings me much joy, it’s like the circle is complete. My family and I have much affection for this project as Mam’Busi Mhlongo used to spend a lot time with us as I was growing up. She would sing a lovely song for me as a child, which was called “Up and Down like a Yo-yo”, the video of which is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNnKaKStKyQ. I hope to make her proud with this design and honor the legacy and lovely person she was. Above all I thank her for the inspiration she has given to myself and many fine artists, particularly in South Africa.
I would like to thank my parents Robert and Libera for their support in this project, Anna Ilishkina for working with me on the project and to all my friends who have encouraged me to keep going over the years. Finally, I want to thank Mpumi, Busi’s daughter for her blessing to do this project. I always believe that with the right commitment, I can learn to make great work/designs. I believe when we trust our intuition, we can even find beauty in rough areas of our work. I look forward to doing many exciting, eye-opening projects and together we will help TVNDO DESIGN grow.
Wishing you all many blessings, Nico Tando Trunz.
"I'm very excited for Nico Tando and can't wait for South Africa and the world to see his creative work. During the late 90’s my mother was working on her album Urbanzulu and spent many happy weeks with Nico Tando and his mother Libera at their home in West Sussex UK. I fully support and give Nico my blessings to release some fine merchandise in memory of his aunt Busi."
Mpumi Ellaine Mabuza, Daughter Busi Mhlongo July 2023
"A pleasure to see Busi so brilliantly produced."