Nigel Matambo – aka Sununguro – is a rising tech creative who is making an immense impact with his exciting innovations in augmented reality. Creating interactive experiences that combine the real world and computer-generated content, he has worked with a remarkable list of collaborators and featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 list as one of the most influential young individuals on the European entertainment scene. This has all been achieved from the humble origins of his Woodhouse home in Leeds, and for Nigel, it’s only the beginning. He takes us on his journey here and explores where it might go…
I moved to the UK from Zimbabwe in 2006, growing up and studying in Leeds. After receiving a bursary award from Universal Music, I started working on technology and learning how to code, then pursued it as a way to augment my own reality and be creative on my own terms.
I’m an interdisciplinary designer working in creative technology. I’m a technical artist building the augmented layer of experiences for the new era of the internet. Understanding aspects of spatial computing and engineering experiences and products for the new age. Exploring the space between physical and digital augmentation.
For people’s lives, augmented reality will make luxury more accessible; the idea of being able to try on a product without having to do so physically is interesting. But also the idea of connecting an already existing physical item and adding a layer of additional capabilities with digital overlays will give people a new way of being able to interact with the world.
Currently we’re at its nascent stages, tools and platforms are still being developed and will improve. I’m always iterating, learning to think across different mediums and finding the synergies. My biggest challenge is that the context for a lot of my ideas doesn’t exist yet so I need to be patient with being understood. The benefit is being able to see the world in a new way and apply my ideas broadly.
Leeds has always been very tech adjacent and at the forefront of pioneering innovation. But I’d like to see more done here to actively seek out and promote those in underrepresented groups and in deprived areas. Programmes such as the Samuel Ross Black British Artists Grant come to mind.
There’s a pretty extensive list of international collaborators that I’m grateful for. My technical skills were instrumental in teaming up with Virgil Abloh across his shows. I built Pharrell Williams’ digital wearables too for his digital-first auction house Joopiter, in partnership with Virgil’s studio.
Collaborating with Coachella and Meta was fun; I built the global geo anchored experience for them, which is revolutionary for connected experiences. And we built the inaugural augmented wearables for Louis Vuitton – making luxury accessible in building engaging spaces and try on experiences. This work has been exhibited across numerous galleries internationally. But my biggest success is building a new water tank for my grandma in Zimbabwe.
For me the future is open. I’m exploring the use of augmented reality and artificial intelligence to improve lives and wellbeing in a very comprehensive and accessible way. All we have is belief – I’m trying to push the boundaries of what I believe is possible, and through that I hope to help those around me.