The doting husband of SA’s Nigella – Siba Mtongana of Siba’s Table – Brian Mtongana is a guy who knows the rules, as well as how to bend them. As the head of design at Woolworths, he has the daunting task of influencing consumers to choose a Woolworths product over a competing retailer – by, for example, converting the pasta isle into a mini Italian delicatessen.
His innovation and his will to toss out the rulebook are part of what turns everything he does into a success. After eight successful years at Design Indaba, Mtongana was headhunted by Woolworths to join their inhouse creative agency. He seized the opportunity, yearning to lend his skills to a business he admired in the creative sphere. “I love the fact that I can influence how customers behave when they shop.
"Design is a powerful business tool that plays a huge commercial role. Together with my team, we help entice and inspire customers to shop.” Known affectionately to his colleagues as “the typography guru”, Mtongana is in charge of communicating the innovation and responsible sourcing that is behind the “Woolworths Difference”. He oversees package design across the board as well as communication and typography.
Yet Mtongana recounts his achievements with great modesty: “My most humbling career moments were designing Mark Shuttleworth’s space suit patch and designing the 2010 Fifa Confederation Cup official invite.” Most recently he has worked on the Woolies giving-back campaign with Pharrell Williams. Mtongana is an excellent example of how success doesn’t have to compromise creativity and self-expression.
My most humbling career moments were designing Mark Shuttleworth’s space suit patch and designing the 2010 Fifa Confederation Cup official invite.
His style is refreshing, his fashion has a retro undertone – evocative of 1970s Sophiatown. The first impression is polished, but upon closer inspection, quirky – thanks to the addition of refreshing Happy Socks or high-top sneakers worn with formal wear. “With my unique and quirky dress sense, it’s sometimes tricky to give advice, as most men are generally conservative with their fashion,” he says.
A fitted dusty salmon jacket from Paris – “I loved the fit and fabric. I collect blazers” – worn with a checked shirt and faded grey jeans. “I bought the jeans in New York along with my Urban Outfitters Happy Socks. The shirt is probably Woolies. I love quality fabrics.” The trendy Camper shoes “are very comfortable and unconventional”. The tie is from Paris and the watch is by Diesel. The entire look topped off with his signature accessory: a newsboy cap.
Restaurant? We mostly entertain at home.
Fragrance? Marc Jacobs’s Bang.
Book? As a proud father, I recommend all dads read Raising A Modern- Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis.