Recently, some of the world’s leading South African designers were fortunate enough to be honoured at the sixth annual Design Foundation Awards. The ceremony was held in Cape Town and was considered by many who were lucky enough to attend to be one of the most moving ceremonies in recent memory.

Many categories were recognised and praised, including Design, manufacture, innovation, and commercial success. To make the event even more special, each individual category was sponsored by a supporter of local talent with an aim and goal to help nurture and support the respective winner and their work. In total, the evening saw seven winners from various fields.

Each of whom took home a limited-edition trophy created by renowned sculptor Otto du Plessis. The trophy in itself is a masterful work of design and craft. Made entirely from Bronze, it depicted a Gorilla.

There were many big names in attendance, including the CEO of BMW South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa, Tim Abbott. Tim was quick to sing the praises of the design industry: “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 new jobs and upskill other creatives”. This was in reference to the sponsorship of the Design Foundation Awards, which was provided by none other than BMW.

The Design Foundation Award 2018 Winners

The Icon Award

The event’s most prestigious accolade, sponsored by BMW, was the ‘Icon Award’. This year, that accolade was scooped up by Porky Hefer. Interestingly, this was his second time receiving this very award. The award itself is to acknowledge outstanding achievement by highly regarded designers.

This is based upon work which they have produced over the last twelve months. Porky’s ‘Endangered’ collection of sculptural seats was actually showcased last June at Design Miami/Basel, where the entire collection very nearly sold out. This in itself was an astonishing achievement as it raised over US$200,000 for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s wildlife conservation programs.

Porky Hefer

Object That Moves Award

This year’s Object That Moves Award went to the Imbizo stool by Chuma Maweni. The award serves to acknowledge the designer of an original product that has experienced great commercial success. Criteria for the award was that the aspirational and top-end, yet commercially viable to sell in multiples. The award was sponsored by 100% Design South Africa. The prize will see the ceramicist receive free exhibition space to showcase his work at this year’s 100% Design South Africa.

Maker to Market Award

Sponsored by M&C Saatchi Abel, the Maker to Market Award is to acknowledge a design company that understands the value of marketing, consumer interaction, packaging and delivery. This year’s award was won by Sealand Gear. Founded by Cape Town surfers Mike Schlebach and Jasper Eales, upcycles old yacht sails, billboards and other waste materials to create designer active-bags. The wonderfully creative approach has seen the brand being stocked at Selfridges, Mr. Porter and Liberty London.

Manufacture Award

The Manufacture Award recognises a manufacturer who has gone beyond expectation to aid designers in realising their products. Sponsored by VISI, the award was scooped up by Hot Wired Design.

From its premises in Woodstock, Hot Wired regularly take time out from manufacturing props, signage and architectural elements to share their expertise with artists. 

Future Found Award

LulasClan was the winner of this year’s Future Found Award. Sponsored by Krone, this award celebrates a young designer who has already achieved excellence with limited resources. Founded by Bonolo Chepape, LulasClan is a Johannesburg-based textile brand. The young designer has already released her own fabric and wallpaper collections and collaborated with SMEG, Nando’s and Mr Price Home. 

Apprentice Award

Sponsored by Mr Price Home, Lwazi Mshibe, a furniture and interior design graduate from the Durban University of Technology, won this year’s coveted Apprentice Award. This award places an outstanding graduate who shows maturity, originality and true potential, in a 6- to 12-month apprenticeship with Mr Price Home. The apprenticeship consists of a three-month internship followed by a place in MRP Foundation’s nine-month Jump Start Retail programme.

Design With Purpose Award

This year’s Design With Purpose Award went to Our Workshop. The award recognises socially responsible work done by a company, within the South African landscape, with a focus on design aspects, that makes a difference in the lives of communities. Set up by designer Heath Nash at Guga Sthebe Arts & Culture Centre in Langa, Our Workshop is a community focused open-access workshop. The organisation aims to empower 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. This award was sponsored by the V&A Waterfront. As part of the prize, the V&A Waterfront will commission Nash and his team of artisans to create a dynamic installation for the precinct made from recycled materials.

This prestigious Design Foundation Awards ceremony was attended by over 400 people, including top industry designers, VIP guests and media. Whilst networking, chatting and of course congratulating each other, guests could enjoy MCC from Krone, gin and tonic by Hope on Hopkins mixed with Fitch & Leedes or red wine from Spier.

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