Meet our 6 SOLVE Finalists for 2017. These young designers have captivated our judges with their innovative & dynamic concepts for our SOLVE 2017 design competition, proudly brought to you by ELLE Decoration and Adams & Adams

SOLVE is a competition that allows young and emerging designers, architects and trendsetters a platform to launch their careers. ELLE Decoration will back the top 6 finalists by featuring their designs, concepts and innovations in the pages of the magazine. However, the sponsor, Adams & Adams (South Africa’s leading intellectual property firm), will financially back the top 3 finalists with a cash injection to make their dreams come true and protect their ideas for years to come. All the finalists ultimately become winners as the feature is set to open many doors in the industry, and could assist with pushing them into entrepreneurship. The focus will be on making these ideas commercial – both locally and internationally.

I was enormously impressed by the high standard of designs submitted for the Solve 2017 New Talent Design Competition. The theme of sustainability was embraced and young designers from all over the country either submitted innovative sustainable solutions for every day problems or used recycled materials to create beautiful designs. There is incredible talent amongst our young designers and it was very difficult to decide on the semi-finalists. I am very excited about the next round of judging for the top three! ” – SOLVE judge, Mariëtte Du Plessis

This year’s ELLE Decoration SOLVE competition brief was for SUSTAINABLE DESIGN.

We are on the brink of a paradigm shift. Sustainability is no longer limited to saving the planet, but has become the essence of how we survive and thrive in a dynamic, competitive market. We must acknowledge the impact that design and the built environment has on our access to finite resources and design responsibly. It’s no longer about who is going green, but who is doing it best. This is the reason sustainable design is at the core of SOLVE 2017.

The 6 finalists are…


Lwazi Mshibe is a 4th year interior design student at the Durban University of Technology and will be graduating for his Diploma in May this year. He is highly passionate about Scandinavian, biophilic and sustainable design and it is through this passion that he was able to achieve top student awards in both his 2nd and 3rd year. He was a 2016 PG Bison Student competition finalist and was mentioned as one of the top 40 emerging creatives for Design Indaba exhibition 2017. Lwazi Mshibe lives in Inanda, Durban and is currently working on a lot of side projects/competitions to generate revenue for his infant furniture brand. His goal is to be an interior designer known for designing with a sustainable yet appealing purpose and meaning, whilst creating a social awareness of the industry and design theories/styles he is passionate about.

Small spaces need more care in terms of furnishing the space, small furniture is a must in order to have a comfortable interior design. Therefore I have decided to design folding furniture that can be tucked away when needed to, like on days you might be having a large gathering of guests in that small living space. Doing this it will help make the space look bigger and attract the guest’s attention. Next year I will be working, and being new to the Industry I (as well as others) would love to have an affordable multifunctional piece of furniture rather than having to buy expensive and a lot of different furniture pieces. ”



Cherise is a 23 year old, based in Cape Town, studying at Design Time School of Interior Design. She grew up in a small town in the mountains of Mpumalanga, surrounded by the African bush, and it is a place that has had a big influence in her life and designs. Cherise’s high school years were spent in Ballito in KZN and she currently calls Cape Town home. She graduated from Vega in 2015 with a degree in visual communication, but decided last year to follow her dream and is currently an interior design student at Design Time in Observatory.  She is a passionate, happy and family orientated person and believes that life should be lived simply and soulfully, something that she learnt from both her parents.

I appreciate design and how it influences us everyday. I believe that an interior space effects our mood and outlook and should be something that makes us happy.”

Th Nook


Designer and founder, Michele Grech-Cumbo, runs a design studio specialising in the interior and corporate spaces. Inspired by problems that have yet to be solved, Michele’s studio, namely StudioMIC, designs objects which practically and aesthetically solve these issues. Not focusing on a specific category, Michele designs interior products utilising a practical outlook, with a contemporary, elegant feel.

StudioMIC focuses on a range of quality designer products for the home, office and corporate environments. We strive to create products for the product design, industrial design, interior and architectural spaces. Our focus is on aesthetically pleasing yet functional design, taking inspiration from mid-century simplicity and pragmatism. We synergise function and beauty together with quality and craftsmanship to produce the products we deem worthy for our clients.

We offer professional design knowledge, consultation and realistic production insight of bespoke, custom products. We also provide services for ideation, consultancy, conceptualisation, prototyping and more.”

The Novela Modular Shelving System is a high quality shelving unit designed with the modern day, contemporary user in mind; someone with a flair for design, is price conscious, has an aesthetic attitude and appreciates good quality craftsmanship. The Novela proves to be sustainable due to the high quality materials and craftsmanship undertaken in its design and production. Ensuring the product is long lasting and, thereby reducing its ecological footprint. The modular system allows for flatpack transport, reducing its logistical footprint. Additionally, various materials of the Novela are recyclable, thereby aiding in its overall sustainability.



Tiffany Onderstall is 21 years old and studies interior design at the Inscape Education Group’s Cape Town campus. she grew up in Bloemfontein, Freestate, and went to the Sentraal High School there. The first opportunity she was given to experience design was when her high school released design as a new subject when she was 16. Tiffany had been attending art classes since the age of 6, but learning about design was definitely something different and invigorating. She fell in love with it and decided to study design, finalising her decision on interior design. Tiffany is currently in her third, and final year of studies at IEG and hopes to continue her studies in the design field.

My design is focused on saving water in a domestic environment for recirculation and re-use through creating multi-purpose furniture pieces.”

Filtration Couch


John Torbet was born in Cape Town, is 20 years old, and in his first year at Design Time School of Interior Design. Jonty has always had a passion for drawing and designing, which runs in the family. During his gap year, he spent 6 months in the construction industry in the UK and spent another 4 months working for a high end local cabinet maker. Jonty sees his design style as very clean, sleek and monochromatic. To him, sustainability means to not waste and to recycle/re-use. He feels that we waste too much when it can be used for other purposes and by doing this we can give back to the environment.

Growing up in a cooking family, I have grown up with the idea that one should never waste food. I have always tried to not waste food by either using the scraps for compost or re-using food in other dishes. My idea incorporates the cooking board and a bin for offcuts. I feel that my design will make it easier for people to recycle their offcuts and scraps and will help the environment.



Angelica White is 23 years old and currently a first-year design student at Design Time, School of Interior Design in Observatory. Her design style leans toward a minimal and clean aesthetic with a timeless twist. She enjoys playing with a mixture of old statement pieces and integrating them into a more modern space. Angelica feels that up-cycling contributes greatly to this and that sustainability is no longer a trend, but has become a vital part of design, and by reworking that which already exists, a product can be beautifully made with both functionality and aesthetic in mind.


Elle Decoration has always been a source of inspiration for me, I love that the publication is so hands-on with inclusion of up-and-coming designers and have so many opportunities for their readers to integrate into the local design scene. The publication being a wonderful platform to showcase local innovative talent, as well as the initiative being presented to Design Time (where I am currently studying) by the team, have pushed me to enter this year’s SOLVE competition as a personal challenge!”

The winner will be announced in June, so watch this space!

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In our Big Ideas Issue we turn to some of the leading decor talents for the lowdown on how to spruce up a space. We also head to coastal Vancouver for the trip of a lifetime and uncover how to use wallpapers & textiles in the home. However you choose to make your home a sanctuary, always follow this one rule – your space is your playground; have fun! Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #BigIdeasIssue.