Design Indaba’s annual endeavour to find the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa manifests as a competition open to public votes and an exhibition. The competition has been running consecutively for the last 13 years, with this year’s iteration supported by Mercedes-Benz South Africa. Ten incredible designs were nominated by 10 public personalities, with each vying for the coveted title. The Delicate Bracelet, which was nominated by Blessing Ngobeni, was voted in as the uncontested winner by members of the public.

The Delicate Bracelet was made by the non-profit community project Izandla Zethu that is based in Walmer, Port Elizabeth. The NPO creates employment and develops skills to empower young people. The bracelet is made using corrugated iron, a material commonly used to build shelters in informal settlements. It symbolises the transformation of poverty into beauty through creativity.

“Other than the fact that it is handmade from recycled material, I like the fact that it is made from corrugated iron sheet – a piece of material that we, as South Africans, are familiar with and many of us hold dear,” explains Ngobeni. “The material of the bracelet got me thinking about the meaning of beauty, and even adds to my view about beauty – that it has to be honest and truthful.”

Public voting was conducted online via the Design Indaba website Voting opened at the start of February and closed at noon on 28 February 2020 and was open to all. The winner was announced at the Design Indaba festival, Nightscape, on the evening of 28 February 2020.

Says Selvin Govender, Marketing Director at Mercedes-Benz South Africa: “We’d like to congratulate Izandla Zethu on having conceptualised an outstanding piece that has captured public hearts and minds, and we’d similarly like to congratulate Design Indaba for staging this competition as part of its 25th anniversary event. We’re proud to be associated with this significant and longstanding highlight of the local design calendar.”

In the days leading up to the winner’s announcement, the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa nominations were on show as part of Nightscape, which took place on the Artscape Piazza in Cape Town, from 26-28 February 2020.

The aim of the annual competition is to highlight objects that stand out for being not only aesthetically pleasing, memorable, and zeitgeist-capturing but also socially impactful, sustainable, functional, relevant, and even humorous. The competition gives the public a chance to ponder the age-old question ‘What is beauty?’ and then select which object is worthy of the coveted title. Clearly, the tribe has spoken…

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