Design Indaba explores the idea of beauty through 10 objects

Design Indaba has asked 10 South African creatives to each select an object that challenges our perception of what defines beauty for a public competition.

The objects, which range from a topsy-turvy blue bench to a copper and glass kettle, will be entered into the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa competition, which invites the public to vote for their favourite item.

These items will then be displayed in an exhibition at Design Indaba between 27 February and 1 March.

Most Beautiful Object in South Africa competition
Ebert Otto’s copper and glass kettle was nominated by Visi magazine editor Sumien Brink

The competition aims to question, “what does beauty look like this year in our constantly shifting gaze as we grow and adapt to a changing creative landscape?”

“We ask the people at the height of cultural influence to choose 10 objects that move them. Then we leave it up to the South African public to fill in the blanks. Is beauty today what it was yesterday? What insight does our vote give us into what it is we hold dear?” explained Design Indaba.

Among the objects is a kettle by Ebert Otto made from a combination of copper and glass, nominated by Sumien Brink, the editor in chief at Visi Magazine. It features a domed glass body and a curved wooden handle.

A copper spiral is located at the kettle’s centre that heats the water. “The spiral increases the contact surface area of the water and promotes desired air flow,” said Design Indaba.

Most Beautiful Object in South Africa competition
Artist Usha Seejarim created a silhouetted form of a female dancer stretching that hangs against a wall

Another object in the competition is an electric blue bench by design studio Houtlander, which was chosen by local entrepreneur Nandi Dlepu.

Called Interdependence II, the bench is a “playful spin on the traditional loveseat”. It features a long seat than twists upside down.

“The manufacturing ability exhibited with this product is applaud-worthy, I really love that it’s an abstraction of something familiar. A shaker-style love seat with a twist, literally!” said Dlepu.

Most Beautiful Object in South Africa competition
Chris Soal’s piece is made of beer bottle tops strung together to create a rope-like sculpture

The Stellar Scintillation by artist Chris Soal, nominated by radio presenter Bridget Masinga, is made of beer bottle-tops, scavenged from the streets of Johannesburg, which have been threaded together to create a long rope-like sculpture.

“The single tops began to dissolve into the new form created by the act of threading them together. The piece raised questions about value, labour, consumption, and currency,” said Design Indaba.

Most Beautiful Object in South Africa competition
Mzukisi Mbane’s entry is a boldly patterned African bridal dress

Also on show was a red, patterned African bridal dress by Mzukisi Mbane and a wall installation of a silhouette form of a female dancer in the act of a split stretch by artist Usha Seejarim.

Other objects chosen include a desk by Mpho Vakier, a cross-body bag by Okapi, a poetry anthology by Koleka Putuma, a phone app for cancer sufferers by Conn Bertish, and a sofa by Heino Schmitt Design.

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