The fifth annual Design Foundation Awards, held on Saturday 25 November, marked a new wave in the industry as each of the seven awards were sponsored by various forward-thinking local companies. The awards laud the design field’s top achievers in design, manufacture, commercial success and innovation, and signals a shift in strong support from the growing design community.The awards were a celebratory affair, held at Guild in Cape Town’s Silo District and the bubbly certainly flowed. One of the night’s big winners was Gregor Jenkin, who took home the Icon Award sponsored by Krone, having been the inaugural recipient of the award in 2012. As this year’s 100% Design South Africa Feature Designer, and with a solo show currently running at Southern Guild, featuring over 20 monumental pieces, 2017 has seen this South African stalwart create bodies of work that have garnered praise worthy of icon status yet again.
The Maker to Market Award celebrates a design company that understands the value of marketing, consumer interaction, packaging and delivery. This year’s recipient was Robin Sprong Wallpaper, who won the award for the professionalism of his global marketing, consumer interaction and world-class service.
Other winners include Thabisa Mjo, founder of Mash T Design, who won the Future Found Award, having already achieved excellence with limited resources in her lighting and furniture design company. She will receive a year of free legal consultations from intellectual property lawyers Von Seidels.
University of Johannesburg 3rd year Industrial Design student Keitumetse Maake received the Apprentice Award, affording her a 12-month internship with acclaimed furniture designer and maker David Krynauw, himself a past Design Foundation Award winner.
The Design With Purpose Award, recognising socially responsible work with a focus on design, went to SolarTurtle, a social business that deploys ultra-secure energy kiosks at rural schools to provide basic electrification needs.
The Object That Moves Award went to Adam Hoets of Willowlamp for an original product that has experienced great commercial success. The award celebrates a product that is aspirational and top-end, yet commercially viable to sell in multiples. As part of his award, Hoets will receive free exhibition space from sponsors 100% Design South Africa in 2018.The Manufacture Award, sponsored by Bronze Age Studio, was won by Ngwenya Glass, for going beyond expectation to aid designers in realising their products.
The awards were judged by a Design Foundation board sub-committee, after nominations were received from past winners and an external jury that included industry insiders and editors of prominent local design publications, as well as nominations from tertiary institutions for the Apprentice Award.
With this new wave of support for the industry, and businesses vying to become involved in more meaningful ways with the Design Foundation in 2018, this year’s awards are an indication that local design companies have much to celebrate.
Says board member Trevyn McGowan, ‘With our independent think-tank board representing diverse industries, our aim is to have a foundation that supports the design industry at large – from grassroots and educational levels to manufacture, retail and export. Our partners are seeing the value in supporting local design and growing this multi-layered industry together, as we move it away from its association with a collectible design gallery to be run as an autonomous non-profit foundation.’