Each year the country engages with the question of what constitutes beauty. While some may consider beauty an aspect of taste and others know it on sight, beauty becomes far more profound than a visual sensation when design attributes such as social significance, economic impact, usability, sustainability and even humour are thrown into the mix.
Design Indaba showcased the 2016 nominees in January in the leadup to a nationwide, travelling exhibition. 2017 will see the competition manifest as an exhibition showcasing the top 10 objects and the stories around their designs.
View winners gallery below.
2016: Xhosa-inspired shawl by Laduma Ngxokolo
Laduma Ngxokolo is the founder and designer behind MaXhosa, a fashion label that uses traditional Xhosa beadwork motifs and patterns to celebrate the rich heritage of the Xhosa culture. The shawl was designed as a part of Ngxokolo’s Autumn/Winter ’16 collection.
Knit in black and white yarn, the shawl boasts the characteristic Xhosa aesthetic that Ngoxolo is famed for. The design is unisex and can be styled in over twenty different ways. Ngxokolo has had tongues wagging at home and abroad after he showcased his collections at the Palazzo Morando Show in Milan, Italy. Ngxokolo’s shawl was nominated by Tracey Lynch.
2015: The Boomslang
Kirstenbosch's suspended walkway, known as The Boomslang, was completed at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in May 2014. The raised walkway through the garden's arboretum was a collaborative effort by architect Mark Thomas and structural engineer Henry Fagan. Inspired by a snake skeleton, the walkway is a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees. It takes the visitor on an awe-inspiring journey through nature, rising up from the forest floor into and through the trees and bursting out above the canopy, giving spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, Garden and Cape Flats.
2014: Steam 1886 by Adrian Lazarus
Steam 1886 is a steampunk-inspired short fashion film, produced and directed by Nicky Felbert and Adrian Lazarus. This fantasy video showcases the fashion and lifestyle of a possible 19th-century steam culture. It was shot at Truth Coffee HQ, whose steampunk interior was designed by Haldane Martin.
2013: Pebble Dress by Gavin Rajah
The Pebble Dress from Gavin Rajah’s Spring/Summer 2013 couture collection was created out of leather pieces that were moulded into pebble shapes and then embroidered onto mesh by hand. The leather pebbles are placed to create a gradation of colour with rose gold blending into chocolate.
2011: Dreams for Africa Chair by Woza Moya
The Dreams for Africa Chair symbolizes hope and the importance of dreams. Woza Moya further raises awareness through the chair about HIV/AIDS and the design significance of traditional Zulu beadwork.
2010: Lab Light by Anatomy Design
The idea behind the Lab Light invokes a strong message of functional design. Andrea Kleinloog of Anatomy Design explains through the Lab Light that functional design is both an outcome and a process.
2009: Chrysanthemum Center Piece by Michaella Janse van Vuuren
The Chrysanthemum Center Piece is a reversible design that functions as either a bowl or a candleholder depending on which side of the design is facing up. The centerpiece reflects Nomili founder Michaella Janse van Vuuren's passion for textures, shapes and patterns found in nature.
2008: Nested Bunk Beds by Y Tsai
The Nested Bunk Beds are both aesthetically pleasing and socially functional. The beds serve as a space solution for overcrowded, low-cost houses. Tsai Design Studio strives to produce provocative designs that are unconventional yet instilled with a strong sense of cultural and social relevance particularly in South Africa.
2007: Condom Applicator by Roelf Mulder
The Condom Applicator is a small product that may have a big impact on a country’s social, cultural and economic future. Roelf Mulder of XYZ Design designed the Condom Applicator in the hope of HIV/AIDS prevention. This product revels that it is not only the physical appearance of a product that is important but also the social and economic potential it encompasses.