The assistant editor of Elle Decoration shares her Superbalist Apartment selects
By Afrika Lethabo Bogatsu
With magazines playing a huge part of 27-year-old Ntombenhle Shezi’s life and imagination as a teenager, she collected every title she could get her hands on. “I used to save up money to buy the latest True Love, Elle, Cosmopolitan, TeenZone, Drum magazines and on weekends I would walk with my younger sister to the Rosa Parks Library in Jabavu, Soweto, which was then sponsored by the US Embassy, and had all the latest magazines like Vanity Fair, National Geographic, Harper’s Bazaar, Fortune Magazine and Seventeen. Reading the latest issues of all these international magazines felt like such a treat.” She’d write letters to the editors of her favourite publication, revelling in the excitement of seeing some of them get published and even going on to win a prize or two for one of them.
Despite this burning love for magazines, Ntombenhle doesn’t remember consciously thinking of a career in print media. Instead, after matric she went on to major in African Literature and History at Wits University and started her postgraduate degree after, which she had to suspend due to funding.
After that, she found herself interning for Live Magazine which led her to work for the British Councils art programme – Connect ZA. Her time at both organisations introduced her to a number of different people who helped her get into freelancing for publications like Mail & Guardian, Marie Claire South Africa and Vanguard Magazine.
“In 2014 an opportunity opened up at Elle South Africa where I joined the magazine on as the features and fashion assistant. I knew nothing about fashion but it was an amazing opportunity that helped me grow and learn. I then left Elle for Times Media where I worked on lifestyle, fashion and beauty features on several of their publications namely, The Sunday Times, Smag, The Edit and Wanted.”
Fast forward to just a few months ago, Ntombenhle is now the Assistant Editor for Elle Decoration, which has recently changed hands and is now under Ndalo Media.
“Often, I think of that teenage girl in Soweto obsessed with magazines, and cannot help but think that I was always meant to be here. And right now millennials are steering the conversations around many issues and I am incredibly lucky to be playing my part.”
When it comes to her personal style, Ntombenhle says she’s moving away from being a "too many clothes, but nothing to wear’ type of girl and finding new ways to wear the things she loves and feels most comfortable in. “As an “aspiring” minimalist I love items that offer versatility, interesting textures, like leather and quirky embellishments and pieces I can switch up quickly for different occasions.”
While she says her home is not quite ready to be featured in Elle Decoration, yet, as it’s a work in progress, she’s working towards making her little city apartment into a space that becomes a true reflection of her personal style. “I do love it’s aesthetic of cemented floors and high ceilings, it has its own charm, and because it’s small I want to focus on pieces that help me maximize every inch of the space. It also has the most amazing natural light, which brings some much-needed warmth into the space.”
We asked Ntombenhle to select some of her favourite apartment items and tell us why these items speak to her.
“I think I am very partial to neutrals and mixed textures, like leather, woven basket, cement for character... While I love the character that colour brings, I prefer that to come through in abstract art, photographic prints and through the spines of books stacked on top of each other. I have a slight affinity for monochromes, which I feel gives any space a good balance. These pieces make a statement individually. I like that because I don't do clutter, and I need strong pieces to anchor a space.”
What's in this month's issue of ELLE Decoration that you're particularly proud of?
This issue is really beautiful. It is the heritage issue and we have We Are Ants art director on the cover, Guiyani Monteiro, in her home. We don’t often feature people on the cover, but Monteiro is relatable to our readers. Her space is beautifully curated, with pieces that are a true reflection of her and her family’s aesthetic."
When asked what what we can expect from Elle Decoration now with the new change she says “We are looking to create content that resonates with our readers, while continuing to tell the magnificent stories of designers, makers and creatives from across the continent and the world. We look forward to bringing a millennial readership into conversation with us as we produce the best in home décor, travel, art and culture, and for our readers to continue to invite us into their homes and spaces.”