Trade and Industry on furniture design competition

Western Cape student wins furniture design competition

Jess Kuhlenthal, an Industrial Design student at the Cape Peninsula University has scooped first prize in the inaugural National Furniture Design Competition organised by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), in partnership with the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), Design Institute, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Furntech. The department announced the winner of the competition at the Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town.

the dti supported student finalists of the 2014 Furniture Design Competition to showcase their furniture designs at the Design Indaba Expo to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) from 27 February-1 March 2015.

Kuhlenthal, a fourth year student, will receive a set of designing tools worth R10 000 for a Trimod table that consists of three right-angled triangles which she designed. She expressed contentment for being chosen as the best designer. She said she was inspired by creating a product that is more functional and can be trusted by clients.

“Being the winner presents me with an opportunity to be recognised as an upcoming designer. I’m confident that this design is going to take me places as it is impressive and has captured the imagination of the panel of judges,” declared Kuhlenthal.

Kuhlenthal said she planned to study for her Masters’ degree in Industrial Design, travel all over the world to get experience and come back to South Africa and implement her experiences.

According to the Chief Director of Agro-processing at the dti, Ms Unati Speirs, the furniture industry is an important sector in the South African economy.

“The industry has a potential to contribute to the reduction of unemployment, increase exports and develop the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).

The competition is designed in such a way that it should promote entrepreneurs in furniture designing to assist them take their career forward and improve the design skills,” said Speirs.

The Head of the Design Institute and Innovation of the SABS, Mr Gavin Mageni said South Africa was experiencing an influx of imported finished furniture. He suggested that more efforts like the competition be put in place, in an attempt to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs to explore the raw materials and produce products that will be internationally competitive.

Mageni added that that South Africans need to start responding to the Industrial Policy Action Plan that makes reference to the shortage of high-level skills in the furniture industry such as design.

This, according to Mageni limits South African furniture manufacturers’ capacity to supply world-class products in line with both domestic and global market demand, and thus negatively affecting the industry’s competitiveness.


Sidwell Medupe-Departmental Spokesperson

Tel: (012) 394 1650

Mobile: 079 492 1774