Design Time l Product Design Competition 2016


We have had an exciting year and have indeed had a rather busy one behind the scenes.

In April of this year we partnered up with Design Time School of Interior Design, Pierre’s long standing friends at Madi a Thavha Craft Art and the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC). The challenge for the creative students : to design a functional piece of art within the strict parameters of available traditional skills and local raw materials of rural Limpopo.

Our very own Pierre (blood, sweat and tears involved) mentored the students and translated the challenges we posed to the 38 first and second year students. The piece to be specifically designed for the national and international markets within the parameters of the available traditional skills and local raw materials of rural Limpopo. All this was to be done to specifically to promote the work of the rural artisans in Limpopo.

We were adamant that students’ designs include a signature of Limpopo’s cultural heritage, an aspect the National Arts Council passionately endorses.

To read the rapidly changing trends in art and interior markets can however be tricky. For rural Limpopo artists, it is bit like guiding the Titanic to dock at a trendy global port every month. With the internet now virtually reaching the remotest villages in Africa we are increasingly in need of translators to explain the practicalities of ‘local-rural’ and ‘global-urban’ to each other.

 Madi a Thavha also restricted students to the size of their designs and by the specific traditional use of material and techniques like beadwork on textile and baskets, traditional open firing of local clay, available twines for weaving and on top of it, were told that eco-friendly and recycling elements will count in their favor.

These were all adding to quite a tough reality check for the creative youngsters.

The students could focus on the following media and techniques:

  • Textile: beadwork, embroidering, fabric dyeing and painting
  • Wood: and woodcarving
  • Clay: traditional firing, using kilns, glazing
  • Grass: weaving
  • Recycling: with various mediums and techniques as mentioned below

The following product groups could be developed:

  • Soft furnishings: cushions, bedroom textiles, table ware, stools
  • Interior (extending to patio under roof) functional art, craft and decorative products: clay and wooden bowls, vases, stools.
  • Woven products: baskets, mats and grass objects
  • Wall art: embroidery, bead work, textile painting, clay, wood.

Our discerning judging panel, Tracey Lee Lynch (, Julian Hartley (The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester) Greg Truen (SAOTA), Althea Shlessinger (Madi a Thavha) and Pierre Antione had the tough task of marking each and every students design.

The winners were announced at Design Time School of Interior Design’s annual prize giving ceremony in Cape Town at the end of November.

The results where as follows :

  • 1st place – Carla van Rensburg’s Likela light fitting
  • 2nd place – Paula Maytham’s Baobab light fitting
  • 3rd place – Shani Bijleveld’s Raw Ornamental pot

Shortlisted (in no specific order) were:

  • Brenda Kabeya’s Le Tabouret
  • Joe Throssell’s Totem Jo
  • Justine Adair’s Clay Vase
  • Ariana Brogneri’s Synergy Pendant
  • Cherise Minnaar’s The Motherbead

It was a wonderful project to be involved in and we are ever so very proud of each and every Design Time student.

We’re delighted to say that Marcelle Bosch of the NAC and Althea Shlessinger of Madi a Thavha are already hard at work on the prototypes and we can’t wait to see the products evolving. We’ll be sure to keep you posted with images as soon as we have them.



1st place – Carla van Rensburg’s Likela light fitting


2nd place – Paula Maytham’s Baobab light fitting


3rd place – Shani Bijleveld’s Raw Ornamental pot