Choosing South Africa’s ‘most beautiful object’

27 February 2014

A film about gangsterism interpreted as a game of chess, the new Nelson Mandela statue, a hi-tech health bracelet and a modern take on the traditional drinks cabinet are among the 12 nominees for this year’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa competition.

The competition forms part of the annual Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town, the biggest curated design event in the southern hemisphere. The 12 nominees will be on display at the expo, which takes place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from Friday until Sunday.

Nominators for this year’s competition included Elle Decoration editor Laureen Rossouw, advertising agency owner Alistair King, and Mugendi M’Rithaa, an industrial designer and lecturer at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. It is the public, however, who will get to choose the winning object.

Visitors to the expo will be able to vote for their Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (Mboisa) by sending an SMS with their favourite object’s Mboisa code to 40619. Each SMS costs R1, and people can vote as many times as they like. The winner will be announced at 4pm on Sunday.

While entries in the competition traditionally feature clothes, furniture, jewellery and the like, this year’s competition expands on the concept of beauty, including a music video, a full-length film, a nine-metre tall bronze statue statue and a health bracelet that links to an app.

In a series of recent articles in Sunday Times’ Home Weekly supplement, the nominators explained their choices.

Alistair King said that although he was taking “a bit of licence” with the definition of design by nominating Four Corners, a film about Cape Flats gangsterism interpreted as a game of chess, he believed it was “beautifully crafted” and that this fitted in with Design Indaba’s “broad and boundary-pushing notion of design”.

Mugendi M’Rithaa, who nominated the LifeQ Mojo Active Armband, designed by Ideso Industrial Design Solutions and heath technology company Health Q, said its beauty “arises from how its materials, processes, aesthetics and hi-tech elements are all suited to its functionality and technology”.

Laureen Rossouw said of her more orthodox nominee, the LALA Shwantla Drinks Cabinet by designers Dokter and Misses, that “it is what we’re looking for in South Africa, an aesthetic that is modern and classical. The LALA Shwantla resolves its wide range of influences with simplicity and lightness of touch, while being original.”

The 12 nominees, along with their Mboisa SMS codes, are as follows:

  • Marianne Fassler for Samsung #AmazeAfrica (Mboisa #Amaze)
  • Jabba Surf Rack by Jasper Eales Originals (Mboisa Jabba)
  • Four Corners film by Ian Gabriel (Mboisa 4 Corners)
  • Imprint dress by Black Coffee (Mboisa Imprint)
  • LALA Shwantla Drinks Cabinet by Dokter & Misses (Mboisa Lala)
  • The Fog music video by Nakhane Toure (Mboisa Fog)
  • Construct by Spier Architectural Arts (Mboisa Construct)
  • Steam 1886, a fashion short film (Mboisa Steam)
  • The Mojo Armband for Health Q by Ideso (Mboisa Mojo)
  • The Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Buildings (Mboisa Mandela)
  • Knus baby carrier and hammock – (Mboisa Knus)
  • Gold Swarovski Dress by Gert-Johan Coetzee – (Mboisa Gold)

SAinfo reporter and Design Indaba