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Guide to DI 2013: Most Beautiful Object In SA



The much-anticipated 2013 finalists of Design Indaba’s annual Most Beautiful Object In South Africa competition have been announced, and they include pieces by some of our favourites.


The MBOISA finalists were nominated by a mix of design journalists and cultural commentators in South Africa and will be voted for by the public to determine a winner. The aim of the initiative being to question what constitutes beauty and encourage a wider definition of the word – one that includes attributes such as social significance, economic impact, usability, sustainability and even humour.


Votes are cast via SMS (R1 per vote) and the winner will be announced on the afternoon of Sunday 3 March at the Design Indaba Expo, where all the pieces will be on show.


Here they are:


Zanzan Umbrella by Gareth Cowden, Babatunde


Zanzan Umbrella


Nominated by Jackie Burger, editor, ELLE.


A very simple object inherent to our cultural landscape, done in an array of innovative prints! Finally, the humble umbrella steps up as a modern, colloquial and pop-culture accessory serving the dual purpose of functional fashion.”


To vote for the Zanzan Umbrella SMS “MBOISA Babatunde” to 43431.


Golden Fold Necklace by Katherine-Mary Pichulik




Nominated by Sarah Buitendach, editor, Sunday Times Home Weekly.


“Katherine-Mary Pichulik’s pieces are bold and eye-catching, fun and sexy. I especially like the fact that her jewellery is made from humble, everyday materials such as coloured rope and string, which she transforms into embellishments that are very sophisticated.”


To vote for the Golden Fold Necklace SMS “MBOISA Pichulik” to 43431.


The Soweto Theatre by Lawrence Chibwe, Afritects Architects


soweto theatre


Nominated by Laureen Rossouw, editor, ELLE Decoration.


“I love the confident, bold, colourful architecture of this iconic theatre in SA’s most famous township and the immediate impact it has on its surroundings. It has three indoor venues and an undercover outside venue for productions. It is also built close to the railway station, taxi rank and Rea bus stop in Jabulani, which gives commuters a chance to interact with and enjoy this inspiring and aspirational landmark. A great example of urban regeneration and a symbol of progress for all South Africans.”


To vote for the Soweto Theatre SMS “MBOISA Afritects” to 43431.


Mechanical Bureau by Joe Paine


Mechanical Bureau


Nominated by Sumien Brink, content director, VISI.


“In total sync with the new steam punk movement, Joe Paine has designed a mechanical space-saving desk that the trendiest urbanite will covet. Joe was inspired by discarded 19th century farm machinery. The desk is made from Cape teak, medium density fibreboard (MDF) and mild steel, and uses a system of gears and cranks to open and close. Small workspaces will never look the same again.”


To vote for the Mechanical Bureau SMS “MBOISA Paine” to 43431.


Pebble Dress by Gavin Rajah


pebble dress


Nominated by Malibongwe Tyilo, Blogger, Skattie What Are You Wearing?


“The Pebble Dress combines to great effect some of the most relevant design influences at the moment: leather, ombre, texture and craft. Their unity creates a completely resolved design piece. At first glance, your eye is attracted by the complete garment and it’s almost scale-like appearance. A closer look reveals the incredible amount of work and precision that has gone into creating not only the garment but also an entirely new fabric.”


To vote for the Pebble Dress SMS “MBOISA Rajah” to 43431.


Slice Cutting Board by Jonathan Fundudis, Snapp Design


slice cutting board


Nominated by Brandt Botes, founder, Studio Botes.


“Something as simple and seemingly mundane as a kitchen cutting board is given added functionality through the process of design. A solution so clear it begs the question ‘Why has no one done that before?’ Designer Jonathan Fundudis mentions that his approach is to design objects that leave you with a ‘smile in the mind’. Simple and smart, this is exactly what the Slice cutting board says to me.”


To vote for the Slice Cutting Board SMS “MBOISA Snapp” to 43431.


Gustav Greffrath’s Interpretation of the 1975 Pipeline Gun


Gustav Greffrath


Nominated by Garth Walker, founder, Mister Walker.


“Spider’s uber-sleek hand-shaped ‘gun’ – surely an apt description – is itself a thing of beauty and an object of lust. Handmade and shaped by the eye, it’s an amazing creation – simple to look at, hold or caress. Suggesting speed, agility and efficiency, the board’s deceptively light weight defies its size. The interesting intervention is that the artist perfectly retained the essential ‘gunness’ of the original shape, yet the top half dipped in glossy Delft blue adds to the allure – and hints at the water for which it is intended…” 


To vote for Gustav Greffrath’s Surfboard SMS “MBOISA Dutchmann” to 43431.


Wood and Carbon Bike by David Stubbs


David Stubbs


Nominated by the Design Indaba Expo team.


“This is what making is all about: one man in his studio, setting himself a challenge and lovingly creating something for himself rather than simply going out and buying it. Stubbs has invented his own solution for a durable but light bike by creating a protective skin of wood impregnated with carbon. As cycling begins to permeate South African culture, it is inspiring to see one artisan elevating bicycle design to a work of handmade art.”


To vote for David Stubbs’s bicycle SMS “MBOISA Stubbs” to 43431.


City Press Newspaper, 27 May 2012 edition




Nominated by Lauren Beukes, novelist, Zoo City and Moxyland.


“I chose this as my Most Beautiful Object of 2012 because it’s a symbol of our fraught, messy, wonderful country and the problems we still face in talking about race and gender, but also because it’s about the beauty of our most important democratic rights, the freedom of the press and freedom of expression to talk about it.” 


To vote for City Press Newspaper SMS “MBOISA City Press” to 43431.


Visibility Vest by Ronel Jordaan




Nominated by Gregor Naude, editor, Enjin.


“Ronel Jordaan’s visibility shopping bag/vest is function made form. I think it nicely encapsulates the idea that, in addition to creating beautiful objects, good design offers solutions to everyday challenges.”


To vote for the Visibility Vest SMS “MBOISA Jordaan” to 43431.


Aretha Dress by Sindiso Khumalo




Nominated by Robynne Kahn, fashion director, special projects,Cosmopolitan and founder,


“I love her use of colour and graphic prints. The way she has used patterns and shapes in a modern, updated and fashion-forward way is exciting. She has taken what feels like a traditional, tribal influence and interpreted it live now. Her fashion and design aesthetic feels relevant and authentic.”


To vote for the Aretha Dress SMS “MBOISA Khumalo” to 43431.


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