Some of South Africa’s most talented and innovative design stars were acknowledged at one of the country’s coolest design awards ceremonies, in Woodstock, Cape Town, last night.
Among the winners of the fourth annual Southern Guild Design Foundation Awards were designers of trendsetting jewellery, ceramics and furniture – and even the creator of a solar-powered backpack for rural schoolchildren.
A panel of 12 industry leaders selected winners reflect the development of the South African design industry.
Katherine-Mary Pichulik lifted the Maker to Market Award for slick packaging and professional sales strategy. Pichulik has been featured on the covers of the world’s leading fashion bibles, including Vogue, and has been reported on by global media.
Di Marshall’s pottery brand, Wonki Ware, won the award for commercial success, while hip urban brand Dokter and Misses won for innovation, and industrial design graduate Jason van der Linde won the Apprentice Award to further his work experience.
But the most exciting winners were Siyanda Mbele and Thato Kgatlhanye.
Owner of Pinda Furniture Design, Mbele won the Future Found Award. He designs and manufactures hand-painted furniture inspired by traditional South African cultures. Mbele uses Ndebele, Venda and Zulu patterns in his products, which are interpreted into a novel aesthetic – like his side tables that stack on top of one another. The award will offer him inclusion at trade shows to gain further exposure.
Kgatlhanye deservedly scooped the Design with Purpose Award, which recognises “socially responsible work done by a company or designer, within the South African landscape, with a focus on design aspects that make a difference in the lives of communities”.
Kgatlhanye’s Repurpose Schoolbags more than fitted the bill.
Recognising that many young learners in her community used plastic bags to carry school books, she decided to intervene. She repurposed plastic bags to make them durable and environmentally friendly.
Then, she added solar technology and batteries to provide light for learners to study after dark.