Since his days at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, heritage-focused designer Laduma Ngxokolo has amassed national and international awards and acclaim for his art, so it almost seems predictable that he has been declared this year’s winner in the Design Indaba’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa competition.
Announced at the Design Indaba Festival in Cape Town on 19 February, voters consisted not only of trained designers, industry insiders and discerning fashionistas, but also the average South Africa – those his design touched on a cultural, aesthetic and practical level.
Mr Ngxokolo’s winning creation, a striking, unapologetically African shawl inspired by and interpreted from traditional Xhosa knitwear, caught the trained eye of designer and curator Tracy Lynch.
“When I started looking for the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa and a piece that really spoke to me, I found this particular piece – the shawl,” says Ms Lynch. “The way he [combines heritage, tradition and fashion] is so inspiring and powerful that I found I really needed to bring more attention to his work.”
“I feel extremely honoured as there are more than a hundred thousand designs being created yearly in South Africa and having mine singled out is the greatest honour of all,” Mr Ngxokolo commented after being awarded the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa award.