As a media partner for Design Indaba 2018, Nataal explores the festival’s exhibitions dedicated to local creatives

Design Indaba stays true to its mission to promote South Africa’s creative industries with exhibitions that take over the communal areas of the Artscape for each year. For 2018, the standards were higher than ever with every talent on show expressing timely and authentic perspectives on their mother nation through unique works.

The Most Beautiful Object In South Africa competition asks the public to consider different notions of beauty by voting for their favourite from a shortlist of thought provoking entries. Whether easy on the eye, the soul or the heart, each expert-nominated object has its own special resonance. Among Nataal’s favourites this year were Dear Rabane’s performances fuelled by familial love and fantastical costumes, and Thebe Magugu’s Girl Seeks Girl dress. His demure piece features bell sleeves and a striking illustration of two intertwined, weeping women dominating the front. Magugu hopes the garment encourages female solidarity in the face of the patriarchal society. Justine Mahoney’s Mighty Ndebele sculpture splices the Western and the African by imagining a golden cyborg from a future Ndebele tribe. And this year’s winner, the Tutu 2.0 Pendant Light by Thabisa Mjo, was inspired both by the Xibelani skirts worn by Tsonga women and classic ballerina tutus. Handcrafted from wool and beads, it uses artisanship to perfectly satisfy both its form and function.

The Emerging Creatives class of 2018 brought together 40 young designers across disciplines as diverse as photography, graphics, interiors, illustration, ceramics and art direction. Fashion was particularly strong this year, as seen in the work of Gugu Peteni, a recent graduate of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, who showed two promising collections emblazoned with messages including ‘Stay Woke’ and ‘Womxn’. “Golden State Of Mind is about self worth and the feeling of empowered beauty. I chose yellow because it is confident, bold, effortless and makes you feel good from the inside out,” Peteni says. “And Rise is a collection rising up against sexual harassment, which is relevant to the current mood and ‘Me too’ movement.”

Prime Obsession by University of Johannesburg graduates Shelley Mokoena and Keneilwe Mothoa started off as an exercise is expert thrifting and has evolved into women’s ready to wear with the brand debuting at AFI Joburg Fashion Week last year. “For our latest collections, we’ve looked at the traditional dress of the Amish community, 19th century African American uniforms and Shangaan culture,” they explain. “Our brand is minimal, structural and sophisticated.” Simple white, burgundy and chocolate pieces are given luxurious volumes with tiers of fabrics, ruffles and tassels that lend the body elegant movement.

Finally, Sakhile Cebekulu stood out from the pack thanks to his Zulu Lami Redefined concept. Another University of Johannesburg graduate, the visual artist and designer unveiled his menswear label SASH at AFI Joburg Fashion Week last year by making a statement about the contemporary Zulu man. “Growing up in the city I didn’t feel connected to my culture, so this collection brings urbanism together with Zulu heritage,” Cebekulu says. “I play with traditional colours, crafts and emblems to create my own Zulu world.” His menswear basics include beaded jeans, honeycomb bomber jackets and embroidered tracksuits.

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Published on 01/03/2018