The Nando’s Hot Young Designer award has been announced, with not only one, but two winners walking away with the title. The art initiative welcomed in entries from across the country but it was 28-year-old Thabisa Mjo from the Eastern Cape, and 23-year-old Samantha Foaden, from Durban, who stole the show.
The challenge was to design a pendant light fitting with a contemporary forward-thinking South African twist that could be used in any Nando’s restaurant around the world. Tracy Lynch of St.udio Lee Lynch, was responsible for the creative direction behind the initiative and the designer of the Nando’s Central Kitchen HQ in Joburg. Tracy challenged Nando’s to find a way to ‘express their alignment with South African creativity through design of their restaurants,’ she explains.
It has been an incredible journey and that’s really how the heartfelt celebration of South African design came about.
Michael Spinks, Head of Nando’s Resaurant Design, explained on 10 and 5 what the judges looked for and referred to one of their core values, which is family and that you have to be part of the family to get it right.
You look at design in terms of those five values, which is pride, passion, integrity, courage and family.
He continues to say that they wanted a brand that could be of use locally, as well as internationally. A product with a practical aspect, marketable and could travel the globe, and a product in demand. People need to want this product.
Seven finalists later, after a total of 260 entries were received, two prototypes of light design concepts were chosen. Working under the creative eye of top South African designers, these finalists were mentored and supported in making their dreams come true.
Hearing from the winners, Thabisa Mjo is the Creative Director of Mash T Design Studio and created the Tutu 2.0 light, which is ‘inspired by two of her favourite things: tutus and her partner, who is Tsonga. She explains ‘While learning about his culture I came across the Xibelani skirt, which Tsonga women wear to celebrate their culture. The skirt reminded me of a tutu. If Africans had designed tutus they’d look like Xibelani, hence the name Tutu 2.0. This light is handcrafted and woven locally by women and men in Johannesburg.’
Samantha Foaden’s Buhle Bulb is ‘versatile, sleek and proudly South African. It’s inspired by the contrasting textures of beads, Scooby wire and weaving, which were meaningful South African inspirations that immediately came to mind when I sat down to design this light. The round circles of necklaces and bracelets intrigue me and the minimalist design came together very quickly.’
What does it mean to be the winner?
The winners each receive an order of 50 lights. These lights will be used worldwide in Nando’s restaurants. As well as free design and trade mark application for their lights, from top intellectual property law practice Adams & Adams.
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Inspired by minimalistic design, nature and the writings of Oscar Wilde and F. Scott Fitzgerald, ELLE Deco editorial intern, Franke pursues the world through languages and photography. Apart from content creating, assisting in sourcing and styling, she has a love for traveling to new places with new faces. Follow her on Twitter @FrankTheun or Instagram @FrankeTheunissen.
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