Porky Hefer and Chuma Maweni among 2018 Design Foundation Award winners

South Africa’s leading designers were honoured on the weekend (Saturday, 9 March) at the sixth annual Design Foundation Awards, in a moving ceremony held in the Silo District, Cape Town. The awards recognised the industry’s top achievers in design, manufacture, commercial success and innovation, each category sponsored by a supporter of local talent. The seven winners all took home a limited-edition bronze trophy depicting a seated gorilla, made by sculptor Otto du Plessis.

“Recognising achievers in this industry not only places a spotlight on what design businesses are capable of, but allows those outside the industry to start placing more value on the commercial viability, social impact and strategic importance that design can have on economic success and global identity,” said Trevyn McGowan, co-founder of the Design Foundation and CEO of The Guild Group.

The Design Foundation Awards were sponsored by BMW, which also presented the evening’s most prestigious accolade, the Icon Award. Tim Abbott, BMW’s CEO South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa, praised the constructive role that the design industry plays. “We aim to proactively contribute to the empowerment of South Africa’s working designers as they break new ground, take their products to market and grow their businesses into thriving commercial endeavours that create jobs and upskill other creatives,” he said.

Porky Hefer was named this year’s Icon – his second time receiving the title, which acknowledges outstanding achievement by a highly regarded designer, based on work produced over the past 12 months. His Endangered collection of soft sculptural seats was exhibited at Design Miami/ Basel last June, where it was virtually sold out, raising more than $200,000 to benefit the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s wildlife conservation programmes.

The Design With Purpose Award was won by Our Workshop, an open-access workshop set up by designer Heath Nash at Guga Sthebe Arts & Culture Centre in Langa. A community resource that empowers locals with the skills and tools to make and repair things, Our Workshop encourages a ‘fix it’ culture by finding new uses for ‘waste’ products. The award was sponsored by the V&A Waterfront, which will commission Nash and his team of artisans to create a dynamic installation for the precinct made from recycled materials.

The Imbizo stool by ceramicist Chuma Maweni won the Object That Moves Award, which celebrates an advanced and original product that has enjoyed significant commercial success. From his studio in Woodstock*, Cape Town, Maweni has taken his ceramic practice to the next level, developing a range of sought-after stools, each one with its own precise silhouette and unique patterning. A master of his craft, his whose work bears testimony to the commercial viability of handmade design. As part of his prize, Maweni will receive free exhibition space at this year’s 100% Design South Africa, which sponsored the award.

Durban-based furniture and interior design graduate Lwazi Mshibe won the Apprentice Award, which places an outstanding graduate in a 6- to 12-month apprenticeship with one of the top design companies in the country. Mshibe graduated with a B-Tech in Interior Design from Durban University of Technology last year. Mr Price Home, sponsor of this award, has offered him a three-month internship followed by a place in MRP Foundation’s nine-month Jump Start Retail programme.

Joburg-based textile brand LulasClan won the Future Found Award, which recognises a young designer who has already achieved a degree of excellence with limited resources. It is the brainchild of Bonolo Chepape, a graphic designer whose vibrant designs are inspired by her Pedi cultural roots. Chepape left the security of ad agency life with only R2500 in her pocket to start her own studio and has since released her own fabric and wallpaper collections and collaborated with SMEG, Nando’s and Mr Price Home.  The award was sponsored by Krone and carries with it tailored support and guidance from the Design Foundation board to help Chepape build her brand.

Sealand Gear won the Maker to Market Award, given to a design company that understands the value of brand-building and identity, marketing and consumer interaction. Founded by Cape Town surfers and ocean warriors Jasper Eales and Mike Schlebach, Sealand manufactures bags out of old yacht sails, billboards and other waste materials. Every detail in the business journey of this innovative lifestyle brand has been considered – from its minimal packaging and lifetime product warrantee, to its approach to digital storytelling. Sealand is now an internationally recognised brand sold at Selfridges, Mr. Porter and Liberty London. The award was sponsored by M&C Saatchi Abel, which will provide the winner with marketing support.

Hot Wired Design was honoured with the Manufacture Award for its team’s technical proficiency and willingness to help many local artists and designers give three-dimensional form to their imaginative ideas. From its premises in Woodstock, Hot Wired regularly take time out from manufacturing props, signage and architectural elements to share their expertise with artists.  The award was sponsored by VISI magazine.

A new development this year was the opening up of award submissions directly to the design industry and public. The open call resulted in a large number of submissions and broadened the reach of these annual accolades in the local design industry. Public nominations were pooled with those from past winners and an external jury of industry insiders that included Tracy Lynch (interior designer and creative force behind Nando’s Central Kitchen in Joburg), as well as tertiary education leaders who recommend their leading graduates for the Apprentice Award. Judging was done by the 13 members of the Design Foundation board who include professional leaders such as Dion Chang, founder of Flux Trends; Ashraf Majiet, head of design at M&C Saatchi Abel; Amanda Dilima, retail manager at the V&A Waterfront; and Temi Ofong, chief operating officer at Absa Corporate and Investment Banking.

The award ceremony was attended by 400 designers, industry leaders, collectors, corporate leaders and local media, with MCC by Krone, gin and tonic by Hope on Hopkins and Fitch & Leedes, and red wine by Spier.

*Maweni has since relocated to a new workshop in the Port of Cape Town.



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