Each year the Mike Made This (MMT) team attends the Decorex show – and holds a Design Challenge beforehand to select its designs for the show. The aspiring designers will be given the opportunity to win the chance of having their designs mass produced by MMT.
This year, for what will be MMT’s 4th Decorex show, two students from the
Design School of Southern Africa (DSSA), an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), have made it through to the finals of the MMT Design Challenge. The two students – Chanel King and Tumelo Lekhu – are competing head to head for the honour of having their winning designs showcased at Decorex, and thereafter mass produced by MMT.
Both were tasked with designing and creating a wardrobe that is fully accessible to both abled and disabled people.
Chanel Salomé King (22) from Erasmuskloof, Pretoria, is a BA (Interior Design) student who has been looking forward to this competition since last year when her friend, Christiaan Schutte, was a finalist in MMT 2015.
Tumelo Lekhu (24) of Roodepoort, Johannesburg, is also a BA (Interior Design) student who was persuaded by his lecturer at the Design School, to “give it go” and has since found the experience to be a revelation. “It’s been exciting so far, being a finalist might mean I’m actually good at this,” chuckles Lekhu. “I have improved on and learnt a number of skills since I started at DSSA.
“When I entered I didn’t even think I would be a finalist but now I think it would be great to win this competition because I want to delve into product design after I graduate. One of my goals for the next 10 years is for my products to become a household name locally.”
King says she has been inspired by all she has learned at DSSA to develop her “own kind of creativity”. Her wardrobe design forms part of universal design – which made her focus especially on disabled persons. “Designing a wardrobe so unique requires a lot of research, different concepts and hours of work. After four years at DSSA you naturally master all of these fields.”
Having spent years making designs only on paper or on computer makes seeing a design coming to life “right in front of you” an incredible experience, she says. Whether she or Lekhu wins, she will be just as proud.
“If I do win, I think I’ll just be more motivated or have more confidence in my future designs. This is an amazing opportunity which I feel is a massive privilege to be one of the finalists in this competition!”
Both explain their creative processes.
Lekhu takes his inspiration from random words or pictures and looks for experiences within these objects, words and pictures. “They can be my own or someone else’s from a story I’ve heard. I think of ways of making it better, or how I would make it my own. For this competition, I played around with a Rubik’s cube. I illustrate and draw in my spare time from which I draw inspiration when I design.”
King adds, “I’m one of those designers who sees the final design long before it’s done. However, in this competition it was not the case. When it comes to the design of the MMT wardrobe closet, I had to do a lot of planning and research. When you have an idea of what it’s about, you eventually start with a concept, which enhances the whole idea of the design. You then start to model in 3D and see the potential of your design.”
Ironically, both students had an interest in architecture and found they liked the design part of it more. They found Interior Design enabled them to combine both fields. Similarly, both opted for the Design School of Southern Africa because of the high quality of work in the classrooms.
Lekhu says he opted to study at DSSA because, “I think a qualification from The IIE’s DSSA proves that you’ve been rigorously trained for work as a designer, and that you’re prepared for a professional environment.”
It is the level of personal attention over their designs that most appeals to King. “We have a lot of consultation hours with our lecturers which helps you to improve whether you have the lowest marks in the class or the highest. DSSA enhanced my whole design experience. At the end of the year I will have an industry standard portfolio which will help me to find my first job. DSSA’s standards are of the highest and I am proud to say that I am a student of the institution.”
Both designs will be put into production by the team at MMT, who will be partnering with various retailers on the project.