The best of local beauty

Sixteen of the most beautiful objects in South Africa have just been selected – and they range from a condom applicator to a chandelier.

Sixteen of the most beautiful objects in South Africa have just been selected – and they range from a condom applicator to a chandelier.

Sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC), the objects will be on display at the Design Indaba Expo at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 23 to 25 February 2007.

The most beautiful of them all will be selected by renowned Dutch designer Jurgen Bey, one of the keynote speakers at the Design Indaba, at the private opening function on the evening of Thursday 22 February.

Design Indaba Expo content manager Lauren Shantall explains: “The objects have been chosen by a high-profile curator panel made up of leading South African designers and critics, stylists and editors, who evaluate all exhibitors before they may show their designs at the Expo. Each was asked to name the particular object they considered the most beautiful.

“Our first, DAC-sponsored  Most Beautiful Object In South Africa (MBOISA) project generated huge public and media interest last year, as well as an international distribution deal for one of the MBOISA finalists. The opportunity in 2007 is for DAC to continue to grow this competition’s profile and to benefit further through its association with this initiative.”

The objects will be exhibited in the central area of the Expo, carrying DAC branding and labeled as the Most Beautiful Objects in South Africa. Each object will be displayed on a plinth carrying the name of the curator that chose it, and a motivation explaining why they chose that particular object.

The winning nominations include jewellery, fashion, lighting, ceramics, a pre-fabricated home and more.

Curator Bernard Smith, of the CSIR in Pretoria, explains why he selected the condom applicator by Roelf Mulder of  …xyz design: “The condom applicator is one of those rare products that bridges the divide between social, cultural, economic and international barriers by solving a problem common to all…The ingenuity of the condom applicator is the simple ‘intuitive’ design that makes the application of the condom to the penis ‘simple’. This is a small product that could have one of the biggest impacts on our social, cultural and economic future.”

Architect Mokena Makeka selected the Rocker chair by Egg Design: “I think it’s absolutely beautiful and quite playful. It is a particularly well-thought out design, elegant and subtle in form and shape. It is a fresh design concept – a great example of contemporary design, with a unique touch and the ability to custom-make the design to the client’s needs or preferences.”

The ZenKaya mobile house got the thumbs up from Marisa Fick-Jordaan of the Bat Cente in Durban: “I love the sleek modern proportions and high quality finishes combined with practicality, which is a major shift from the uninspiring and badly designed versions that we associate with prefab homes.”

Justin Rhodes of gallery Whatiftheworld chose Gregor Jenkin’s Donker light: “I find the context that it was designed for (the Sterkfontein caves) to be particularly relevant to this SA award. Also, I like the form and the way the light interacts with its stand. And while the bent round-bar is quite industrial, there is still something quite animated and human-like about the design.”

Johannesburg-based jeweller Geraldine Fenn chose telephone wire protea brooches by Magda van der Vloed of the company Vir Vonk en Vaderland: “I think these brooches epitomise the spirit of new South African design: they are made by a collective of crafters using traditional techniques to weave a modern, non-precious material into a really beautiful expression of national pride. They are colourful and contemporary, well designed and well made, and an inexpensive and fun way for locals to proclaim a love for their country."