By Nomali Cele
In 2007, Design Indaba awarded the first “most beautiful object in South Africa” award. Of course, beauty is subjective but the “most beautiful object” hasn’t always been just something pretty. Take, for instance, the inaugural winner of the award.
The Condom Applicator by Roelf Mulder of XYZ Design, designed in 2004, was announced as the first winner of “most beautiful object in South Africa” and this speaks to the times – the HIV and Aids crisis in the country was not showing any signs of slowing down and we were still a ways away from our current ARV treatment programme, which has gone a long way in turning things around.
At the time of the release of the Condom Applicator, all industries were working to respond to the HIV and Aids crisis through awareness and prevention campaigns. Ultimately, isn’t design being in touch with what is happening where it’s produced; design that endeavours to make a difference in the world — be it directly through its function of indirectly through how its made and the jobs it creates – better than “pretty.”
In the beginning, the “most beautiful object in South Africa” award was decided through votes by a panel of curators but over the years, the decision has been left up to the public. Over the years, winners of the “most beautiful object in South Africa” award have included the Sankara Rug by The Ninevites, a walkway in Kirstenbosch Gardens called the “Boomslang,” a fashion film, nested bunk beds by Tsai Design Studio.
Two things changed in the early 2010s where Design Indaba’s “most beautiful object in South Africa” award is concerned. Each year, designers and people active in design are invited to nominate an object and, when the finalists are selected, the public is invited to vote.
As has been the tradition over the years, the public will decide the “most beautiful object in South Africa” for 2018 by casting votes online. The winner will then be announced on the last day of the Design Indaba festival.
These are the 10 nominated “objects”
Girl Seeks Girl Dress, a dress designed by Thebe Magugu, which was nominated by magazine stylist and fashion director Asanda Sizani.
Dear Ribane performance group comprised of the Ribane siblings, who were nominated by Neo Mashigo, an advertising head.
Tutu 2.0 Pendant Light designed by production designer, Thabisa Mjo, which was nominated by Thato Kgatlhanye.
Mvelo Desk designed by Pinda Furniture, which features Ndebele, Zulu and visual art elements and patterns. This object was nominated by photographer Trevor Stuurman.
Shine/Bookery Library designed by See-Saw-Do, nominated by Youtuber Suzelle DIY.
Brogues and High Tops designed by Maria McCloy, which came to a larger market after McCloy’s collaboration with Woolworths. This object was nominated by Sylvester Chauke.
Mighty Ndebele designed by artist Justine Mahoney, nominated by designer Aidan Bennetts.
The Path of the Upright installation designed by sculptor and activist Igshaan Adams, nominated by fashion designer Stefania Morland.
Identity designed by Carolyn Parton, nominated by author Albie Sachs.
Philanderer Brooch designed by Carine Terreblanche, nominated by artist Claudette Schreuders.
Images via Design Indaba