In an effort to answer the question, ‘what is beauty’, Design Indaba runs the annual Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) campaign, which sees locals vote for the item or concept that they feel best encapsulates the description ‘beautiful’.
The 10 nominees for 2016 have been announced and, like in previous years, the candidates reflect how subjective the notion of beauty is – some have a strong aesthetic appeal, some are alluring in the purpose they serve, some evoke strong emotions and most are culturally relevant and locally unique.
And this year, almost everyone’s going to get a chance to view the chosen objects as there will be a travelling exhibition that visits Johannesburg (between 12 and 18 January), Durban (between 26 January and 2 February) and Cape T0wn (between 8 and 21 February).
Find out more ab0ut the 10 nominees below and watch the Design Indaba-shot videos showcasing interviews with the celebrities and cultural commentators who nominated each item.
kassena town cabinets by dokter and misses
Thoughtfully designed to look like the lively patterned homes of the Kassena people of West Africa, these hand-painted cabinets challenge what furniture can and should be by being both functional and ornamental. There’s beauty in both their sculptural form and in the way they help to define the identity of African design.
the see saw do initiative
This Cape Town-based social enterprise specialises in enhancing and enriching children’s learning spaces so that they become inspiring, stimulating places in which to study and teach. They create everything from murals to fun furniture for spaces and the way in which kids react is truly beautiful.
shawl by maxhosa by laduma
Like his other iconic knitwear pieces, South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s unisex shawl channels traditional Xhosa patterns and colours. It is a gorgeous fashion item in its own right but there’s also great beauty in the way that it celebrates South African heritage in a contemporary way.
This local initiative aims to tackle the scarcity of educational infrastructure in South Africa by transforming used plastic water bottles into ‘bricks’ that can be used to build classroom walls. Read about the beautiful impact this project is having in our article about conscious creativity.
history after apartheid exhibition by haroon gunn-salie
Nominated for its ability to emotionally impact viewers, Haroon Gunn-Salie’s first solo exhibition, an interactive installation that features sculptures, film and more, explores transitional modern South Africa and looks at methods of riot control. It’s a powerful work that suggests that beauty can be cerebral and emotional, not just tangible.
umthi hanging lamp
This wooden lamp by Western Cape-based furniture design company Meyer von Wielligh was chosen because of its beautiful organic form that mimics the natural curves of tree branches and reminds the viewer of the origin of its material. It is both a sculptural artwork and a functional object.
hardwood cruiser by alpha longboards
This hand-cut, hand-shaped skateboard by Alpha Longboards founder Kent Lingeveldt is beautiful in the sense that it moves away from modern excess and serves as a reminder that fun and joy can come from very simple objects. Made from alien KwaZulu-Natal hardwood, it is a super sustainable form of transport and entertainment.
starburst coat by thabo makhetha
Made from a Basotho blanket, the colourful Starburst Coat beautifully marries the nostalgia of heritage and the individuality of craftsmanship with the elegance and allure of a contemporary fashion item. It is uniquely African and yet internationally appealing at the same time.
pea wasabi mousse by chef candice philip
Candice Philip, the Head Chef at Saxon Hotel’s Five Hundred Restaurant, has created a vegetarian dish that looks like art on the plate and tastes like nothing you’ve ever experienced. Combining peas, asparagus, wasabi, lemon creme and parsnip fudge, the creation boasts a clever amalgamation of flavours that is memorable enough to make this transient meal a ‘beautiful object’.
the twenty journey book
Nominated by the Design Indaba staff themselves, this book of photographs visually documents what South Africa looks and feels like 20 years into democracy. It is the result of a seven-month journey embarked on by three South Africans from very different backgrounds who were eager to explore the intricacies of their country. Although many of the images are not traditionally beautiful, the book as a whole is because of the way it interrogates the identity of our very complex nation.
To vote for the nomination that you feel deserves the title of the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa, visit the travelling exhibition or go to designindaba.com. The winner will be announced on 19 February at the Design Indaba Festival.