Kusheda Mensah Designs Furniture to Overcome Loneliness

Kusheda Mensah has just launched her first furniture collection at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, but she doesn’t necessarily see her future in furniture. “I don’t think I’ll be designing furniture for the rest of my life, my aim is to encourage better social behavior, so my career will exist within this concept.”

The collection, entitled (M2) Modular by Mensah is designed to help improve the way that people interact – inspired by the breakdown in genuine connection felt by the social media generation.

“We sit facing screens all day, and these carefully curated thumbnails of people’s lives are causing anxiety, stress, and the need to do more, work more, buy more… by any means necessary,” she says. “I found that when I met up with friends or family, they often weren’t as happy as they looked on Instagram, but there was no way of knowing that unless I connected with them on an emotional level – face to face.”

“My collection was born out the realization that we can communicate with one another in a more fun and interactive way, and sustain the mutuality in our communities and within our generation.”

Kusheda started researching modular furniture and wanted to create something different from the rectangular and circular blocks already on the market. “I looked at the synonyms associated with ‘modular’ – words like ‘interchangeable’ ‘portable’ reciprocal’ and ‘mutual’ – and I wanted my furniture to reflect all these words.”

With a background in ceramics as well as fashion and surface pattern design, Kusheda found the formal approach to furniture design ‘boring,’ and so allowed herself to take an approach that came more naturally to her. “I decided to go with my instinct and design with my concept of social seating and think about functionality later,” she says. “It meant my designs could be as wacky as I wanted them to be.”

They took visitors by storm at Salone del Mobile, where they were showcased within Satellite, the exhibition dedicated to emerging design talent under the age of 35. “I’m so proud that people loved the collection,” says Kusheda. “It isn’t about validation, it’s more that the collection evoked emotion from people and they found it interesting, even if they don’t know much about design. If my furniture brings people comfort and a bit of fun, that is what I am most proud of – making a difference.”

She’s currently developing an outdoor collection, but in keeping with the ethos of her work, her biggest ambition is a life well lived. “Honestly, I don’t have any big goals at this point in my life, except to be healthy, happy and to be able to buy my dream house in my own city, and create a sanctuary within that space,” she says.

“When I was growing up, I had all these ideas and dreams about the woman I would become, someone who cared about people and my environment, the way I would dress, how ambitious I would be and how far I’d go for my career, how much I would love my friends and family, and how far I’d go to make others happy. And I have honestly achieved that dream. I am only now trying to figure out my next step and there’s something quite freeing about that.” We can’t wait to see what comes next – watch this space!

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.