Restaurant design: Emazulwini is where contemporary SA design meets modern local cuisine

Chef Mmabatho Molefe’s modern Zulu fine-dining restaurant, Emazulwini has received a contemporary African-inspired decor look by local design studio Clout SA in collaboration with up-and-coming interior designer Walter Train.

The cuisine pays heritage to the rich history of Zulu culture and fond childhood food memories of Chef Molefe, all served with a fine-dining twist. The seafaring restaurant has undergone a full revamp, featuring earthy neutral tones with bold blues and reds as strong accents, all highlighted with statement furniture and lighting by South African crafters and designers.

mmabatho melefe
The new dine-in space embraces the evolution of South African aesthetics, both in food and design, with the intention of being recognised globally, showcasing the best our country has to offer under both umbrellas.

ALSO READ: A star on the rise: chef Mmabatho Molefe of Emazulwini


Walter Train describes his work as sitting at the intersection of two seemingly disparate worlds: one an Nguni upbringing rooted in family and culture, the other a western lineage intimately part of his birth. Says Tracy Lynch, one of Clout/SA’s managing executives, “Train is a young, talented designer with a strong connection to his South African heritage and roots, which made him a great collaborating interior designer for the project.”

Inspired by the surroundings of the restaurant’s dockside location, Train brought his visions to fruition with the help and guidance of Clout/SA, which facilitates opportunities for companies to support and collaborate with South African designers.

The result? A contemporary space that features the work of local designers and makers, fabrics and materials. 2020 Nando’s Hot Young Designer (HYD) finalist and 2022 Decorex Cape Town Best New Talent award winner Siviwe Jali’s ‘NoKhanya’ light, which was made in collaboration with Ashanti Design, hangs alongside 2016 Nando’s HYD winner Thabisa Mjo’s ‘Tutu 2.0’ lights. Meanwhile, chairs and tables from designers such as Houtlander, David Krynauw and Kent & Lane fill the space.


“Clout/SA is proud to have initiated and managed an approach that we believe amplifies the incredible energy and food shared by Chef Mmabatho Molefe,” says Lynch.

TRY: Mmabatho Molefe’s comforting istambu nobhontsisi

This article first appeared in VISI. Images: Paris Brummer and Warren Talmarkes

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