Functionality is key to the notion of beauty

South African celebrity chef Siba Mtongana tells us why she nominated a unique wooden backpack for Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2017.

Siba Mtongana, celebrity chef and food writer, explains her affection for the unique backpack design of industrial designer Inga Gubeka. Following the ethos that beauty cannot exist without function, Mtongana was drawn to the wood-and-leather bag for its balance in aesthetic and utilitarian value.

Gubeka’s backpack design, “Umthwalo” (meaning “baggage”), is simple and detailed. Using basic woodcraft and surface-finishing techniques, he creates wooden backpacks that are ready for the real world of wear and tear. The form consists of a sturdy wooden box as a base, hand-dyed leather straps and a lid mechanism made of wooden bands.

Not only is the bag a proudly local fashion accessory, but one that was produced with consideration for rain damage and being dropped in everyday use, as Gubeka explains: “It actually worked, but I developed it further… for instance, when it rains, the bag is actually sealed, the wood itself is sealed and the leather straps, so that water doesn’t sit onto the bag.”

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