The concept of Umcebo Design was born out of a long history of working with marginalised people of varying abilities around the idea that art and craft can be elevated to a new level of creativity and, at the same time, generate valuable income for participants. Inspiring art from recycled materials! 

 

Robin Opperman started the concept experimentally in the 90's while working as an Art Teacher at Ningizimu School for the Severely Mentally Handicapped. The idea of roping in community support for art and craft projects in all shapes and forms with a view to generating income and gaining exposure for the art programme became the seed idea for what was to become "Umcebo Trust".

Robin moved on from the school to run the newly formed Umcebo Trust full-time in the early 2000's. This was an experimental model to see if art and craft could be self-sustaining and support a small core of full-time crafters and a wider community of "outreach" crafters. While the "Trust" achieved much success and especially a lot of attention and publicity; it became evident that the global economic down-turn would ultimately lead to Umcebo Trust closing down due to lack of funding and overhead pressures.

This was not the end though; not being willing to walk away from the idea, Robin transformed Umcebo Trust into Umcebo Design. The art and craft concept remained the same, but the modus operandi become more "business-like" and "lean". Robin now operates with a small core group of artists / crafters / consultants who bring their unique skills to the party. Most of the craftwork and commission work is done by Robin and his core group; but where possible and viable, work is out-sourced to local community crafters who are able to make good money for themselves on a commission basis.

Umcebo Design continues to produce unique art and craft pieces and works closely with other craft-centred organisations in the Durban area.