Theme: Sustainable Design

Two large festive decorations, originally designed by Our Workshop for the V&A Waterfront’s Joy from Africa to the World campaign over the 2019/20 holiday period, were so loved by all that the decision was made to keep them up for a year. Installed in the Watershed, the floral Colour Extravaganza Chandeliers with their bright shades and twinkling lights resonate pure and utter joy. When people see them from afar, you can see the smile on their faces and then the surprise as they get closer and realise what they are actually looking at – plastic detergent bottles cut and peeled back into giant flowers. The chandeliers may be pretty and delightful but they also have an underlying social message about the use of plastic and the waste in our society. The bottles were gathered from waste sites from all over Cape Town and then bought to Our Workshop at the Guga S’thebe Arts and Culture Centre in Langa to be cleaned and hand-cut into flowers. Creating each flower made up of several bottles was a communal effort – the cutters were allowed to be creative in their cutting and the team then jointly worked out which ones looked best together. Finally, they were strung in large strands using plastic wrapping tape and hung on a massive metal framework designed by Heath Nash and James Macnamara and constructed by Centre Design. Our Workshop is a community-run NGO that operates an informal earn-while-you-learn system for young unemployed South Africans. So when they get commissions like this one, the crafters get paid for their work while being trained by Nash, a leading designer who pioneered recycling and up-cycling in this country for the purposes of design, and who has exhibited his lighting creations globally. Passionate about education, Nash practises a skill-based programme that encourages personal creative development to empower and uplift the youth. His method is playful and experimental, finding ways of dealing with simple materials and designing through the process of trial and error. Says Nash, “I see social design as a very important field of design everywhere right now. We’re living in desperate circumstances of mass migration and environmental collapse. Specifically in Cape Town – one of the most incredibly unequal and unfair cities in the world – I believe socially motivated design and art-making can play a big part to open up opportunities for change and growth.” If you have not already seen these magnificent works, head to the Watershed after lockdown and treat yourself to a smile.The Colour Extravaganza Chandeliers were made by the Our Workshop team: Mpilo Headman, Thembakazi Hendricks, Heath Nash, Bukho Ngwevela, Xolani Nojekwa, Anele Nono, Athenkosie Ntenteni, Richard Mandongwe, Nqobile Mapipa, Luvuyo Mpoza, Sizwe Shumane. 

100 Beautiful Things is presented by the V&A Waterfront in celebration of South Africa’s creativity, compassion, ingenuity and resilience. Every week we will be showcasing five amazingly beautiful creative things that make us proud. It is curated in partnership with Platform Creative.