The Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) is a yearly competition and exhibition presented at the Design Indaba Expo. A panel of experts from SA’s different creative fields are asked to nominate what they deem to be the most beautiful object in the country. The twelve MBOISA nominees are exhibited at the Design Indaba Expo, which takes place from 27 February to 1 March at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
The past nominated objects and creative fields from which they came have varied greatly, with this year being no exception. Architectural design, school bags and even a TV decoder make it onto 2015’s list – once again emphasising MBOISA’s main objective: to highlight the subjectivity and endless definitions of beauty.
Here are 2015’s beautiful nominations, who chose them, and some of the reasoning behind the panel’s interesting choices. Have a look and vote for your favourite MBOISA nomination here.
Who: Masego “Maps” Maponyane, TV presenter, actor, creative consultant and entrepreneur
What: Haywire Chandelier By David Krynauw
Why: To Masego, this multi-functional light becomes a metaphor for the chaos and order of life in the city. He says, “When the lights are lined up, they form a uniform straight line; however, the excitement comes in when the lights are haphazardly arranged to illuminate more in the space – thus illustrating just how ‘haywire’ city life can get yet how effective that can be.” The “chaos” in the design is what makes it effective and thus illustrates the sometimes inexplicable order/functionality of the city. “For me the craftsmanship, ingenuity, sustainability and meaning that it holds makes this a beautiful object,” says Masego.
Who: Annemarie Meintjes, deputy editor of VISI magazine
What: 2DO Stackable Storage Tower By De Steyl + Renée Rossouw Studio
Why: “An uncomplicated, practical and fun design,” is how Annemarie describes the 2DO.
Who: Lucilla Booyzen, director of South African Fashion Week
What: Silk Organza and Leather Floral Dress by ERRE
Why: About the ERRE design, Lucilla says, “Created using a unique combination of modern technology with traditional craftsmanship, it is a fresh approach to a chic new princess dress that can be worn anytime to anywhere. You can wear it with jeans, elegant pants, with a swimsuit underneath or with high heels as a ball gown.” She also admires the workmanship of the dress.
Who: Design Indaba Expo Team
What: Repurpose Schoolbag by Rethaka (Pty) Ltd
Why: Repurpose Schoolbags are made from recycled shopping bags and are thus eco-friendly and durable (and of course adorable). According to the DI Team, this product, “shines a light on the need to enable the next generation of innovators, designers and thinkers to make the most of their education but also educates the young users to be resource-savvy, environmentally responsible citizens.” According to them, the product also illustrates the power of design to enable positive change.
Who: Chester Missing, South Africa’s top puppet political analyst:
What: Political Berets by the EFF, ANC and DA
Why: “I support the way people mobilise design to their own political ends,” says Chester. According to him, these berets utilised colour and the simple object of a hat to “leverage a street politics that attempts to create credibility regarding who has legitimate claim to represent the people’s interests.” The use of berets has globally been associated with revolution and in South African context, has started a debate over “who and what political stance holds credibility as a solution for South Africa.”
Who: Zanele Muholi, photographer
What: The Boran Bull by Ntombephi Ntobela, Ubuhle Beautiful Beads
Why: The Boran Bull was hand beaded over the course of a year by illiterate artist Ntombephi in an attempt to convey her own feelings and experiences without the use of words. About the artist and her process, Zanele says, “Beading from her soul she shares the wisdom of her philosophy as well as her story with us. Beading also acts as therapy as she is able to communicate her feelings through her beading.”
Who: Toby Shapshak, editor and publisher of Stuff magazine
What: Explora Satellite Decoder by MultiChoice, manufactured by Pace
Why: “While the Explora satellite decoder is nothing too exciting in terms of physical design, the software is a leap ahead. World-class. And there are more impressive things to come still,” says Toby.
Who: Lalla Hirayama, dancer, actress and TV presenter
What: “Centre Point: Dancing Ballerina” by Llewellyn Davies
Why: Lalla explains how Llewellyn’s “slightly unrefined style” managed to capture a “simple yet powerful moment” in dance which, as an old ballet dancer, made the artwork resonate with her. She says, “Just by using bronze, [Llewellen] was able to create this magnificent ballerina in motion.”
Who: Nonhle Thema, actress, presenter and businesswoman
What: Milk Mohair and Wool Felted Cape by Milk: Mohair She Felt
Why: It was the design of this felted cape that drew Nonhle to it. She says that, “The combination of various textures and techniques combined with the subtle layering of light colours makes this [her] choice as Most Beautiful Object.”
Who: Mike van Graan, executive director of the African Arts Institute (AFAI)
What: The Boomslang by Mark Thomas Architects and Henry Fagan & Partners
Why: Mike chose The Boomslang tree canopy bridge in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens as his MBOISA, because it is “aesthetically beautiful” and “environmentally sensitive”. He also says that, “Functionally practical design meets nature to enhance human experience in ‘The Boomslang’.”
Who: Tiaan Nagel, editor of Sunday Times Fashion Weekly
What: Kitale Drinks Cabinet by Tonic
Why: Tiaan tells of his obsession with the “gentle geometry” of the beautiful cabinet in its “deep rich lacquered red”. “It reminds me of the red flick of Andrée Putman’s lipstick, always beautiful and utterly sophisticated but still a little irreverent” says Tiaan. He also admires the design and says that, “In true Tonic style, the warm wooden interior of the Kitale cabinet is a refreshing surprise.”‘
Who: Xolisa Dyeshana, executive creative director and partner of Joe Public and outgoing chairman of the Loerie Awards
What: “Flag Prophecy” by Thandiwe Tshabalala
Why: “I chose this piece not only because of its aesthetic appeal, but also because of how it uses art and creativity to make bold commentary of our political situation today.” In “Flag Prophecy”, Thandiwe illustrates what she views as a colleration between the new South African flag and the 2014 elections.