100 Beautiful Things, presented by the V&A Waterfront, is a celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience, brought to life through an exhibition that started in early April 2020 and will continue into the last months of the year, presented in various iterations.The exhibition cheers on projects, products, ideas and experiences that improve lives, serve valuable functions or add beauty to our country.
Spread across five themes – Designing with Compassion, Sustainable Design, Future Thinking, South African Essence and Simply Beautiful – the 100 Beautiful Things range from fashion and furniture pieces to social and environmental projects, food initiatives, medical and technological innovation, virtual platforms and travel or entertainment experiences.
100 Beautiful Things will evolve from a presentation of online stories, revealed over the course of five months, into a large-scale physical exhibition to be held at the V&A Waterfront later in the year. This good-news initiative inspires positivity, while honouring creative things from around the country that strengthen South African society and leave a better world for all.
The public is invited to make nominations as the online exhibition evolves between April and August.
Virus by Haldane Martin
Responding to the current global pandemic, Virus – the beauty within the chaos, is a sculpture that talks directly to this moment in time while also calling us to contemplate our connection to the earth and to one another as a human community. Standing three-metres tall, this interactive sculptural concept by Cape Town furniture designer Haldane Martin proposes the use of stainless-steel furniture for which the creator is known – 11 tables and 19 lounge chairs from his Hula and Polka collections, that can be disassembled and dispersed. “It speaks to the paradoxical role of dissemination,” he says. “The sharing of resources versus the spread of disease, for example, and is an exploration of humanity and connection, for good or ill.”
Serpentine Pavilion by Counterspace
Every summer London’s Serpentine Galleries present a temporary public pavilion in Kensington Gardens designed by a ground-breaking architecture studio. As one of the most prestigious design commissions in the world, the Serpentine Pavilion is a feather in the cap of any architect, and previous pavilion designers have included world-famous names like Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas. In a historical feat, the 20th anniversary pavilion will be brought to life by our very own Johannesburg architecture studio Counterspace, making its three architects, Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar, the youngest people ever to be awarded this commission (they all turn 30 this year).
The team has centred its design around migrant and peripheral communities, and the spaces in which they gather around London. As a collaborative architecture studio, Counterspace has, in its five years of operation, worked on various projects that delve into community engagement, showing a side to architecture that isn’t just about bricks and mortar.
Ceramic Sculptures by Zizipho Phoswa
Honouring the lives and elegance of African women, especially those close to her, Zizipho Poswa’s impressive large ceramic sculptures have won her many accolades across the world. Not only are they being snapped up by top collectors at art fairs but prestigious museums such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are adding them to their collections.
Furniture Design by Chuma Maweni
A master of hand-thrown ceramics, Port Elizabeth-born Chuma Maweni has shown his work as far afield as the Christie’s Design Auction in London, Salon Art + Design in New York City and Design Miami.
While his first love will always be ceramics, Maweni has recently introduced new mediums to his work. His Imbizo (“gathering” in isiXhosa) table and stool set, made for the 2018 Southern Guild show Extra Ordinary, saw the designer apply his intricate carving skills into wood for the first time, and has since led to an extensive range of tables and stools, which earned him the Object That Moves Award at the 2018 Design Foundation Awards.
Ethical Business Practise by Sindiso Khumalo
The fashion world’s sustainability is currently being questioned on all levels - from the sweat shops of fast fashion and the sourcing of ethical textiles, to the environmental impact of fashion staples like cotton and the pressure to reinvent collections every season. Many in the industry are now challenging these norms but it’s hard for independent designers like Sindiso Khumalo to adhere to sustainable principals without impacting on the economics of the business. However, this internationally renowned designer made it her mission from day one to rise to the challenge, not just in her will to honour the planet, but in the very values of her business practice.
*Compiled by Lindokuhle Nkosi