It was a case of second time lucky for Lwazi Mshibe when he was announced as the student category winner at the 5th annual furniture design competition awards held at the Homemakers Expo in Johannesburg from September 22 to 25.
Mshibe, studying for a Bachelor of Technology Interior Design Degree at the Durban University of Technology, entered the competition for the second time after an unsuccessful first attempt, the trade and industry department (dti) said in a statement.
The furniture design competition is a dti project which seeks to elevate South Africa’s furniture manufacturing capabilities and enhance its competitiveness locally and abroad.
Speaking on his award-winning design concept, Mshibe said the “Songa” (meaning to fold in Isixhosa) came as an inspiration during his study years when he had to leave home and live in a flat.
“It was during this period when I was introduced to the struggles many students encounter living in very limited space that often required flexible pieces of furniture. That is when I designed this multi-purpose concept that comes as one and can be stored for a variety of uses. The concept can be put together and tucked away when space is required,” said Mshibe.
On his future plans, Mshibe said he was going to focus on developing his brand and using platforms and connections that would come his way to design affordable furniture that could be mass produced for local and international consumption.
The winner in the established category, Beaunard Jansen from Desseign Pty Ltd, said the concept of his “Snooze Cot” bedside tables was inspired by the experience and knowledge gained when he was involved with baby and children’s products.
“My concept is a baby cot that transforms into a junior bed with two bedside tables. The baby cot has the two bedside tables sitting on top of it that creates the internal space of the cot. When the baby grows to two years and older, the Snooze Cot can then be transformed into a baby bed that has two bedside tables. The bedside tables have the support system for a young child and are safe because they do not roll off the bed,” Jansen said. His concept was aimed at both the local and the export markets.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Bulelani Magwanishe said the furniture industry was pertinent to “radically transforming” South Africa’s economy.
“It is partly because it is one of the most labour intensive and trade supporting sectors, and if it is promoted correctly it can significantly contribute to industry development and lead to the beneficiation of raw materials. This initiative contributes to the development of design skills in the sector and supporting this kind of innovation is paramount to the conversation about the 4th industrial revolution,” said Magwanishe.
– African News Agency (ANA), editing by Jacques Keet