Adress designed by performer and beauty queen Nandi Mngoma, who signed her first big European deal with agency EGM this week, is one of the unconventional things in the running for the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa. The nominees for the awards, known as the Mboisas, were announced by the Design Indaba team weeks before Africa’s biggest design conference returns to the scene.
The diverse selection, which ranges from sculptures to bamboo backpacks, are nominated by a jury of judges from across the creative arts fraternity. This year, the jury includes local personalities such as JoAnn Strauss, celebrity chef Siba Mtongana, musician and author Nakhane Toure and controversial photographer Roger Ballen.
Mngoma’s nomination for her Moroccan Magic dress, selected by photographer Victor Dlamini, came about from her collection with designer Inga Madyibi. Mngoma and Madyibi say that the dress is a singular look that is fresh, feminine and reinforces the importance of collaboration.
One of the most inspiring of the objects that dominated the covers of newspapers and magazines in 2016 is a rug designed by the Ninevites – a collaborative social enterprise that describes what it does as “a celebration of black aesthetics”. The graphic wool piece was hailed by creative director Bielle Bellingham, who nominated it as a “unique rug that elegantly weaves tradition and the future, craft techniques and technology”.
The Ninevites’ Sankara rug was designed in collaboration with Spanish design group Studio Carreras and handwoven by a team of rural weavers from KwaZulu-Natal with wool sourced from Lesotho, South Africa, Namibia and Peru.
“It’s really exciting, humbling and cool that people acknowledge what we do and appreciate it,” said Ninevites founder Nkuli Mlangeni.
“The rug is beautiful because it’s minimal, colourful, bold and woven by people who are passionate about what they do. These artisans aren’t just using their experience of weaving, but also their passion, to make an object that tells a story about generations of craftsmen.”
The project also supports the preservation of an ancient African weaving tradition. “These women who do our weaving are struggling in KwaZulu-Natal, so we’re working out how we can support them and encourage them, but there are a bunch of ideas in the works.”
Local creatives Blue Forest Collective celebrated its nomination this week. This is yet another major achievement since its crowdfunding campaign for a graphic novel titled Kariba doubled what it was hoping to raise, collecting an impressive R600 000 from over 1 000 donors. The novel blends together mythology and facts surrounding Lake Kariba, the world’s largest man-made lake, situated on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
“Our story follows Siku and Amadeo, one the daughter of the river spirit Nyami Nyami, the other the son of the engineer in charge of the dam’s construction. Unaware of who her father is, Siku must journey upriver to discover the answers to the mystery of her powers, and the strange events occurring in the river and its surrounding forests,” said the team on its Kickstarter page.
SA Creative’s founder, Artwell Nwaila, nominated Kariba, which is aimed to become a feature-length film by the end of this year. The trailer for the film gripped Nwaila. “I think it’s fascinating how a few seconds of beautifully crafted animated material has sparked so much excitement. I also love the African story that is being told,” says Nwaila.
Johannesburg’s thriving informal economy inspired a piece nominated by Arye Kellman, creative director and radio broadcaster at CliffCentral, who says that The Hawker’s Rocking Chair represents the crossing of disciplines to create a seamlessly integrated message, which “exercises non-confined creativity in its purest form”.
Fashion designer Thembe Magugu collaborated with industrial designer Emile Millward to create the chair that emerged while producing Magugu’s Autumn/Winter 2016 collection.
“With every collection I try to imagine a non-fashion object that correlates with the clothes,” he says. “A particularly inspiring day was when I saw a woman selling mealies while sitting on a chair, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. It was in that moment that I knew I wanted to make a chair to complement the collection.”
A bamboo backpack by Indalo Decor (nominated by Mtongana), Artwork by Loyiso Mkize (nominated by Alinah Seloane Missouri), the Joe Slovo West Community Project by Kevin Kimwelle (nominated by Hanneke Schutte) and a self-portrait sculpture by Mohau Modisakeng (nominated by Nakhane Toure) round out the list of nominees for 2017.
The winner of the prestigious prize will be announced on March 3, so go vote on designindaba.com.
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Morrocan Magic by Nandi Mngoma and Inga Madyibi One of the rugs by design collective Ninevites Kariba by Blue Forest Collective and Hawker’s Rocking Chair by Thembe Magugu and Emile Millward Indalo. Backpack by Indalo
Loyiso Mkize’s Gqama Ntyatyambo