Theme: Designing with Compassion

As South Africans, we’ve always been known for ‘making a plan’. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how true that is, with companies reinventing themselves overnight and reaching out to help others, even when they are in distress. Today, we share 10 examples of small businesses and individuals who have used creativity as a solution to getting through this tumultuous time.

1. Collages by Julia Mary Grey


Artist Julia Grey has created a series of humorous collages which document the process of the world coming to terms with the coronavirus. “It was a way for me to keep busy and bring some light and humour to the situation, a bit of brightness to keep perspective during a psychologically difficult time.” Grey sells the collages via Instagram, and 25% of the proceeds goes to Gift of the Givers.

2. The Inside Story


Illustrator Matthew Griffiths wrote a children’s book to help children understand the mayhem of lockdown. “The Inside Book stemmed from a desire to help children understand the virus and lockdown better, but it also focuses on their feelings and the potential boredom that could arise from being stuck inside,” he explains. Free to download and distribute digitally, Griffiths hopes it will reach those who need it most in a country where resources like books are scarce.

3. Koos Groenewald’s Corona Commissions


Artist Koos Groenewald has put his talent to good cause with his #CoronaCommissions initiative. Anyone can simply send him proof of payment of their donation to a charity selected weekly, together with their photograph, and he will draw their portrait. The project has proved so popular that Koos has roped in other artists, and together they have already raised almost R500,000 for various charities.

​4. Sam and Seb


When lockdown banned any non-essential business, scores of small enterprises turned to mask-making in order to make ends meet. The V&A Waterfront has opened the country’s first pop-up store dedicated to masks, made by many of their tenants, with shelves

brimming with a brilliantly colourful ode to the resilience of South Africa’s creative industry.

5. The Lockdown Collection


The Lockdown Collection is a curated auction featuring COVID-19 related artworks by renowned South African artists such as Penny Siopis, Sam Nhlengethwa, Diane Victor, Ardmore Ceramic Art, Gerhard Marx, William Kentridge and Thenjiwe Nkosi. In just two days, from conception to roll-out, the team launched a 21-day lockdown campaign, which continued with the extension of the lockdown. To date, the auction has raised over R2-million for artists and for the Solidarity Fund, while also serving as an incubator for the visual arts.

6. Romeos Staff Fund


To keep their staff paid over lockdown, Romeos restaurant in Melville opened an online store – with a difference. Dedicated fans can buy everything from branded stickers and T-shirts, to a lamb spit cooked by the owner at your next party, your face printed on all their coasters, a 3-D printed statue of you on the restaurant wall, and even the chance to have the restaurant renamed to a name of your choice for one month, and to enjoy free food and drinks for that same month.

7. Food Flow


Coronavirus brought with it the threat of widespread hunger, as well as a broken supply chain for farms, as restaurants were forced to shut their doors. Food Flow is an initiative that aims to keep food flowing, by raising donations, buying directly from farms and providing food to people in need. “We started with the intention to feed 150 families during lockdown,” says organiser Marina Busse. “To date we have paid small-scale farmers over R1-million and fed thousands of families every week across the country.”

8. David Higgs cooking videos


Celebrated South African chef David Higgs has been keeping fans and followers entertained during lockdown, with close to 100 cooking videos. “It’s been an incredible experience getting to show people the dishes I grew up with, and the classic ones that I’ve been taught over the years – and the best part is, it’s now inspiring other people to experiment with home cooking,” he says.

9. Boeka Without Borders


When the coronavirus put a halt to Cape Town’s Ramadan tradition of exchanging ‘boeka’ dishes among neighbours, Ayesha Mukadam created @boekawithoutborders, an Instagram platform where anyone in the world can share a virtual plate under lockdown. “In this time of social distancing @boekawithoutborders reminds us that we are still connected in ways that go deeper than physical contact,” says Mukadam of the platform that has seen boeka plates sent and received in more than 73 cities around the world already.

10. Book Ibhoni Deliveries


When Mpumelelo Mtintso’s bicycle tour business had to shut its doors because of the virus, the Soweto-based entrepreneur pivoted and converted to a bicycle courier business instead. “Rather than parking all our bikes, we started to work with small businesses, delivering their goods safely and at affordable prices,” says Mtintso.

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.