Category Archives: Design

Most Beautiful Object in South Africa 2017 Finalists!

MBOISA 2016

It’s our pleasure to present the much-anticipated Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) 2017 finalists. Featuring a mixed bag of finalists including film, fashion and art, the MBOISA finalists were nominated by ten local celebrity influencers and tastemakers. Beauty is so subjective and sometimes the chosen objects can seem so arbitrary and unconventional. Fortunately, a short video was made of each finalist to better explain why the object has been nominated and what makes it beautiful.

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“Every year Design Indaba invites the public to engage with the question of what constitutes beauty through the MBOISA award. More than just an object of visual delight, MBOISA encourage a wider definition of beauty – one that encapsulates attributes such as social significance, economic impact, usability, sustainability and even humour.” – Design Indaba

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This year the various Most Beautiful Object in South Africa nominations will be exhibited at the Artscape in Cape Town as part of the annual Design Indaba Festival in next month. While Design Indaba Conference and Simulcast-goers can view the exhibition throughout  course of the Festival, the exhibition will be open to the public as part of the Design Indaba Nightscape programme at the Artscape Theatre each day from 1 to 3 March from 17:30, or enjoy a free visit on Saturday 4 March from 10:30 until 16:00.

{The winners will be announced the 3 of March 2017. Go to the Design Indaba website (here) for a full description of each finalist’s design and to VOTE!}

View the 10 Most Beautiful Object in South Africa nominations below:

BUTTERFLY WALL INSTALLATION: by Mark Rautenbach

Taking inspiration from the 19th-century practice of collecting butterflies for display, Mark Rautenbach designed this vast installation using a material that is traditionally thought to be disposable – burnt paper. He wanted to create something that is both delicate (fragile wings suspended by thread) and banal (destructed pieces of paper) in nature.


GQAMA NTYATYAMBO: by Loyiso Mkize

Gqama Ntyatyambo is a painting by fine artist Loyiso Mkize that was spotted by Alinah Seloane on social media. It captivated her instantly as she saw a reflection of her own life in the artwork’s depictions of female stoicism. Various statuesque scenes are portrayed in minute detail around the face of the main subject that represent the various social dynamics that women face in a modern South African context.


INDALO BACKPACK: by Inga Gubeka

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.


JOE SLOVO WEST COMMUNITY PROJECT: by Kevin Kimwelle

The Joe Slovo West Community Project, a haven for small children on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth, was nominated by SA filmmaker Hanneke Schutte. The small school’s design was managed by Kevin Kimwelle, an architect with an affection for alternative building methods and sustainable design. The project was a total renovation of a previous nursery that had become too small to host the growing number of toddlers that relied the nursery on a regular basis. A local non-profit organisation, Love Story, stepped in and drafted the help of a number of architects to revamp the space.


KARIBA TRAILER: by Blue Forest Collective

“Kariba is a film project in the making that originally started as a graphic novel by Cape Town-based Blue Forest Collective. It tells the story of the Zambezi river and the mythical spirit that guides its waters. The plot is driven by the construction of the Kariba dam wall, a barrier that causes disturbance in the natural surroundings where the rules are bent by magic.”


MOROCCAN MAGIC DRESS: by Nandi Mngoma

The Moroccan Magic Dress is the culmination of the collaborative effort between two young South African fashion designers, Nandi Mngoma and Inga Madyibi. Taking inspiration from the architecture of Morocco and the country’s vibrant approach to colour, the fashion duo created a range that would express the ethos of a new Africa.


SCULPTURE FROM LEFA LA NTATE INSTALLATION: by Mohau Modisakeng

In an effort to solidify photographic imagery in material form, South African visual artist Mohau Modisakeng cast his own likeness in resin and bronze. It forms part of a larger travelling exhibition known as Lefa La Ntate. It was the unsettling attention to detail in the artwork that caught the eye of musician Nakhane Toure: the facial texture, expression and life-like form of the bronze figure that moved Toure. As he puts it, ‘I like my beauty to be a little bit more… rough.'”


THE HAWKERS ROCKING CHAIR: by Thebe Magugu

The Hawker’s Rocking Chair is a product of cooperation between fashion designer Thebe Magugu and craftsman Emile Millward. These disparate designers each brought their expertise and sense of style to the creative process – an odd relationship that culminated in the unique rocking chair. Magugu derived inspiration from powerful and distinct women for this project, exploring both masculinity and femininity, quirky textiles and the relationship between metallic textures and hues of green.


THE ROCKPOOL COFFEE TABLE: by Caroline Vieira

The RockPool Table is a natural seawater scene enshrined in ceramics. It is an affinity for the Earth and professional craft that drew Roger Ballen to this design by ceramics-guru Caroline Vieira. Passionate about organic development, Vieira describes the fact that some of the RockPool surfaces broke during creation, resulting in flaws that she would keep as part of their new design as small tables with help from her husband.


THE SANKARA RUG: by Nkuli Mlangeni

“The Sankara Rug by textile designer Nkuli Mlangeni is an expression of southern Africa’s modernity as well as its rich history of craft, according to interior designer Bielle Bellingham. She was drawn to the work of Mlangeni and her artisan team, not only for their high level of weaving skill but also the cultural research and historic imagery that informs Mlangeni’s designs.”

So what do you think, see something you like? Who is going to get your vote?

Trend Alert: Factory Windows

By Marica

A few months ago in our post, Trend Alert: Black Metal, you might recall that I mentioned “Factory Windows” in passing. The particular post was about the widespread popularity and diverse use of “Black Metal” in interiors, homeware and fixtures.

At the time I felt that the revival and reappropriation of Factory Windows is currently such an amazing phenomenon and beautiful interior trend that it deserved a Trend Alert post of its own…

What is a Factory Window?

Let’s first establish what I mean by “Factory Window”. A Factory Window is a big steel-framed, multi-pane window that was often used in factories, industrial buildings and warehouses in the early to mid 19th century (and before).

These windows were popular for two rather practical reasons:

Firstly, the steel grid or “muntins” provided a solid structure to create a much larger window than was the norm of the time. Its size provided an abundance of natural light for the factory workers labouring inside.

Furthermore, small pane windows are not only more affordable to produce but also cheaper to replace. If one pane of glass breaks you only have to replace that one pane and not the entire window.

A Factory Window Revival:

While the resurgence of factory windows is definitely not a new trend – it has been circulating for a few years now – it seems that its popularity has reached a peak.

I cannot read an interior blog or browse through my Pinterest feed without seeing a dozen images of factory windows being used in (un)usual ways. I mean, what is an Industrial styled loft without a stunning (and appropriate) factory window?!

I believe it is precisely due to the eclipsing popularity and longevity of the Industrial interior style that factory windows are currently such a runaway success.

 Vintage vs Faux Factory Windows:

The “real deal” vintage steel factory windows would of course be first prize. Many salvage yards and second-hand dealers sell reclaimed building materials from refurbished or demolished buildings. Here in Cape Town for instance, one only has to drive down the Woodstock or Salt River main road to spot vintage windows and doors stacked up on various thrift shop sidewalks.

However, if you can’t manage to get your hands on reclaimed factory windows, there is no shame in “faking it”. Many homeowners and designers choose to have factory-like steel windows custom-made to fit their specific space and purpose. This can however be a costly exercise.

It is for that exact reason that many opt to recreate the factory window effect using wood. Once the window grid has been constructed from square pieces of timber and has been painted in the desired colour, no one will know the difference.

Factory Windows Used as Shower Doors & Screens:

We have spotted one more curious use for factory windows – this time in the bathroom. Instead of using the standard, manufacturer’s glass doors and screens one can use factory windows to enclose a shower. A similar effect can be created by using steel French windows and doors.

Bathrooms are excellent, yet often underutilised, spaces to create decorative features and focal points. Factory windows will add an interesting vintage industrial flavour to your bathroom.

Bright & Colourful Factory Windows:

While black is the colour one immediately associates with the Factory Window trend, it is not necessarily mutually exclusive. Yes, the contrast of inky black against stark white walls – particularly in a monochromatic Scandinavian type interior – is beautiful.

However, a white painted window frame can work just as well, especially if your space has a softer colour scheme or if you are trying to avoid a standout feature. Another popular choice is grey – be it a soft dove grey or a darker gunmetal grey or charcoal. Grey as a colour choice is very much in keeping with that of an Industrial Style colour palette without being as harsh as black.

If however you want to add a playful facet to your home, you can consider painting your factory windows in a bright colour. Sunny yellow and shades of blue are excellent options that will add a happy element to your space.

Pencil Shavings to Paper Flowers

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

About a week or so ago, while browsing through VISI Magazine‘s weekly newsletter, I came across the amazing, unusual work of Haruka Misawa. The little floral images were eye catching, but were it not for the fact that I stopped to read what he said, I don’t think I might have been as awe struck by his work as I am.

This is what stopped me in my tracks: “Sharpening my pencil, the pencil shavings presenting an arrestingly beautiful form. Curled up in a ring-shaped crown, they looked like the petals of a flower. This kind of personal experience becomes the source of my ideas,” he explains.

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

The Mind of an Artist:

That then is the musings and working of an artistic mind. A mind that goes where mine would not even begin to think of going. He looked down at regular shavings coming out of pencils beings sharpened, and he saw a form of floral art to be explored. WOW!! I wondered at that moment if  I would have seen the potential of a floral art form in mere pencil shavings? I think not. In fact, I know not.

It is for this reason that we are sharing this “different type of art” with you today.

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

Pencil Shavings to Paper Flowers:

Haruka, taking inspiration from his pencil shavings, decided to recreate the same effect but with paper. He used many layers of paper, some graduating in colour, to created a tight cylindrical roll of multicoloured paper – a “paper pencil” so to speak. He then sharpened the paper cylinder with an ordinary pencil sharpener just as one would a normal pencil. The resulting shavings transforms into a beautiful and delicate paper flower, no more than 15mm to 40mm in diameter. On closer inspection one can clearly see the various coloured paper layers.

“Depending on how you sharpen it, the shavings may be thick and heavy, or so thin as to be almost transparent, so you can’t make the same flower twice,” Haruka explains. “Each Paper Flower will bloom quietly and softly on your desk.”

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

Paper Flowers by Haruka Misawa

[Images via Haruka Misawa]

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