SA’s Fresh Talent Competition Winners Head to Sweden

SA’s Fresh Talent Competition Winners Head to Sweden


Six promising young South Africans are heading for Sweden where their designs will be exhibited in an interactive, multimedia production, which opens at the Form/Design Centre in Malmö today.

This marks one of the final stages of the annual Fresh Talent competition, hosted by the Eco Design Initiative in South Africa.  Every year the Eco Design initiative invites young people to design sustainable solutions for a range of challenges faced by people and the environment.

And the winners are…

The 2011-2012 Fresh Talent Competition winners are, Gabriele Birkenmayer for Shoots –A Grassroots Bamboo Project (first place), Wayde Dyers for his Vermiculture Growth System (second place), and Marieke Adams for the Ikghuphu Sleeve (third place).

Janine Johnston, CEO of Eco Design Initiative said: “In addition to the winners, we will also be sending three ‘Wildcards’ to Sweden. We select these candidates based on the potential of their design concepts, as well as their participation in a challenge we gave them and their appointed mentors to work together on a specific community project. Our wildcards are Peggy Ntsepe, Jenna Skead, and Keziah Suskin.”

This year the Fresh Talent competition was titled Home is where the Heart is and designers were called to submit sustainable and innovative concepts under this theme. Submissions could span various contemporary design fields from product, communication and surface design (wall, floor or any other surfaces) to systems, services and interactive design as well as large-scale systematic design.

Finding solutions

Gabriele Birkenmayer, who came first in this year’s competition said: “The driving force behind my concept was to try solving multiple problems with one solution. With SHOOTS I aimed to ‘help’ the environment by using bamboo as a sustainable material; rural communities through training, skills development and providing an income.

The end consumer will benefit from durable, beautiful and affordable furniture. Together with my mentor I’m busy working on the formal business plan and hope to get funding to implement my concept.

“The Fresh Talent competition has given me a taste of what ‘real world’ design is all about and has also confirmed what I want to do once I graduate. I have made both local and international contacts which will prove to be invaluable in the future.”

The Fresh Talents will also collaborate with Swedish design students and given an assignment to complete as part of their exchange.

SaysJohnston: “Our submissions this year really showed a wide range of diversity in terms of sustainable design. For example our winner, Gabriele’s concept SHOOTS showed real understanding of the triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Prosperity. Her concept encompasses a full-cycle approach to sustainability that produces well-designed, good quality consumer products, while addressing unemployment in South Africa and caring for the environment.”

The exhibition in a Malmö, produced by the Eco Design Initiative in collaboration with SVID, the Swedish Industrial Design Foundation, is an interactive showcase that shares the experience of young South African designers in their pursuit of social, environmental and economic wellbeing.