Colour code

Entrepreneur, connector, one of House and Leisure’s editors-at-large and the driving force behind Pantone Sundays, Nandi Dlepu reflects on her journey with colour and its impact on her life

Words by Nandi Dlepu  Photography by Pantone Sundays

I’ve always been attuned to the affect of colour on my mood. My keen interest in colour therapy as a teenager suggests as much. But then again, what wasn’t I curious about at that age? Unlike the teenage stereotype, I had a penchant for spiritual discovery, religious research and an acute interest in alternative healing; I spent a lot of my time in my bedroom – which was mostly white, black and nude.

At the beginning of my studies I dared not associate myself with what I considered to be the frivolity of colour, but the more that I learnt about different faiths, the more I discovered each one’s relationship with colour; I found myself starting to intentionally introduce colour into my world.  

As a conscious teen (today’s equivalent of ‘woke’), I once spotted a badge of the Pan African flag – a horizontal triband of red, green and black – which represented the struggle and liberation of African people. Red representing the bloodshed, black representing our race and green representing the luxuriant vegetation of our continent. I read about colour symbolism in Buddhist art and, in praying to my ancestors, my mother taught me which colour candle to use for what and when. I also came to understand the significance of the colours used by my clan to decorate the rondavels at our family homestead, kwa Ndaba. 

As an adult, I spent the first decade of my career working in design agencies and as a result my appreciation and understanding of colour deepened. Within my own agency, Mamakashaka, what lies at the centre of all of our experiences is my deepest desire: to bring beauty and joy to the world. When conceptualising our colour-themed fashion parties, Pantone Sundays, the thought of tapping into the world of colour was non-negotiable – using it as a way to activate and evoke positive emotions intrigued me. By simply theming each edition with a colour the events offer a common thread for strangers to express themselves, not only as individuals but as a collective too. There’s a sense of togetherness. 

Then Covid happened – is still happening – and we all longed to be together again. When we were finally able to host a Pantone Sunday event recently, to witness a sea of bodies clad in blue was incredible in so many ways. Blue, the colour that chromatherapists use to treat depression and pain. The colour that also calls to mind feelings of calmness and serenity. 

The underlying magic of colour, felt by our guests, is the intentional culmination of my long relationship with it and all it encompasses.   @mamakashaka   @pantonesundays

The theme for the upcoming Pantone Sundays is ‘Just Peachy’. Join Nandi and her team in Joburg on 13 March, Cape Town on 20 March and in Durban on 27 March 2022.