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18 August 2017

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Final year design students and established designers across South Africa are encouraged to enter for the National Furniture Design Competition.

Skill shortage in the furniture industry is a major constraint as it makes it difficult for manufacturers to take part effectively, particularly small scale manufacturers.

the dti Furniture Strategy document, adopted in August 2011, and the Industrial Policy Action Plan (2012/13-2014/15) makes reference to the shortage of high-level skills in the furniture industry such as design, which currently there is an undersupply of, both at the teaching and student level.

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

Design can be used as a creative instrument that will link the industry players' creativity and innovative products.

Design can also play a significant role in industry development and beneficiation of raw materials.

It is thus possible to position the local industry as the producer of high value niche furniture products that are globally competitive based on quality and/or differentiated designs.

This requires a concerted effort on the part of the public and private sectors to develop programmes that address the challenges that constrain the industry from achieving the potential growth levels and significantly raise the levels of competitiveness.

2015 Furniture Design Competition

As a way of encouraging participation in the furniture industry and to complement the proposed design course for design skills development, under the Furniture Strategy Action Plan, the Agro-processing Unit of the dti proposes to run the Annual National Furniture Design Competition, piloted in the 2014/15 financial year.

The winners of the 2014/15 competition were announced in March 2015 at the Design Indaba, Cape Town.

The competition was run in collaboration with Furntech, the dti and the SABS Design Institute.

The SABS Design Institute will help with technical expertise in design, and to facilitate meetings with institutions offering design courses.

Furntech was brought on board to assist the finalist in manufacturing their final products.

The IDC and Mecad were brought on board to sponsor the prizes for the winners.

When the winner has been identified the competition will partner with manufacturers that will manufacture the designed item and then sell to the various identified users.

Purpose of the Competition

The strategic frame work for furniture strategy points out skills development as one area that needs intervention and the purpose of the competition is to address a fraction of the interventions needed in skills development.

Furniture design is one skill that needs to be developed in this country and the concept of design when adopted in the industry will reinvent the way business is done.

The industry is migrating towards customer focused and requires innovative skilled designers to address the customer needs.

The key objectives of the design competition are:

  • To attract designers into the industry, thus creating a pool of designers to serve the industry.
  • To promote product development and differentiation.

The competition will concurrently address the following objectives:

To elevate the image of the Furniture Manufacturing Industry in South Africa, and position the local industry and enhance its competitiveness locally and abroad through new product development and product differentiation.

To grow the industry's competitiveness.

To re-position the South African Furniture Industry.

Competition Categories

Category A: Final Year Tertiary Students

The 2014 Furniture design competition focused on the students and targeted all tertiary students. Due to different levels of skills the students would have acquired it is difficult for the students to compete at the same level. The current competition will only be limited to the final year students.

There will be five finalists from the category who will exhibit at the Design Indaba and three winners who will get prizes as indicated in the section below.

Competition Category B: Established/Professional Designers

As mentioned in the introduction there is a shortage of designers and there is a need to attract and promote talent in this space. The competition will be opened to this category in order to promote design amongst the established designers to be profiled and be able to place them in the forefront in furniture design.

The competition is designed in such a way that it will promote entrepreneurs and professionals in the furniture design to take their career forward and improve the design skills in terms and meeting the customer requirements.

South Africans are very proud of their culture and promoting the local designers would be key and the competition would drive the theme of using local materials.

Competition Theme

The proposed theme for 2015/16 competition is "Future Public Spaces". Public services offered by the government such as airports, health institutions, municipalities, and other government departments that interact with the public in one way or the other. The competition theme seeks to provide seating/waiting solutions for public institutions.

The theme for this year's competition therefore, asks for user friendly and comfortable furniture designs that can be produced locally and has local material.

The competition will provide a solution to various public spaces that will be manufactured locally and promote industrial growth in the furniture manufacturing sector.

The existing infrastructure in the public spaces is aging and the government has plans to build and renovate these public spaces.

This is the time to start re-designing these many public spaces. This is the time when South Africa must decide the vectors that will serve the lives of people for 20, or even 50 years.

The ideal designs for furniture used in such public spaces are important, and there is need to design new values that are in harmony with the changes in society.

Essential points for public furniture are safety, peace of mind, and ease of use, but another important aspect is diversity and coexistence.

So with this theme of "Public Space", we are looking for designs with the core concept of "furniture suitable for the coexistence of a variety of people", rather than designs for specific people or conventional categories.

Given the diversity of requirement of furniture in different public waiting areas the competition has been opened to both established and student designers.

The competition is also aimed at benefiting the industry and influencing the products manufactured in the industry, by using the design skills.


The five finalists' products and the companies they worked with will be profiled by the dti.

R50 000 worth of prizes will be split amongst the three finalists in Category A as follows.

1st - Designer Profile in a magazine, and Solid Works Advanced Training worth R25 000
2nd - Designer Profile & Solid Works Basic worth R15 000

3rd - Designer Profile and Design tools worth R10 000

The five finalists' products and the companies they worked with will be profiled by the dti.

R50 000 worth of prizes will be split amongst the three finalists in Category B as follows.

1st - Designer Profile in a magazine, and Solid Works Advanced Training worth R25 000
2nd - Designer Profile & Solid Works Basic Training worth R15 000

3rd - Profile in Magazine and Design tools worth R10 000

Important Dates for the Competition

Important dates that need to be adhered to:

  • Entries will open on 1 March 2015;
  • Entries close on 31 August 2015;
  • Finalists announced on 30 September 2015. Finalists will be contacted telephonically and electronically;
  • Final products (life-sized) will be exhibited on 1 March 2016; and
  • Prize giving on 1 March 2016.

2015 Competition Forms

Click Here to Application Form: Category A (Students)

Click Here to Application Form: Category B (Professionals)

Competition Terms and Conditions

the dti reserves the right to refuse entry of products that are not eligible or do not comply with applicable entry criteria, or that might put in question the reputation of the competition.

Only new concepts (designs) are eligible to enter the competition.

Designers or design teams may enter products.

The names of all individuals involved in the design must be disclosed.

If the design has been patented or registered as a design, a copy of the first page of all registration certificates must be submitted with the entry.

The entry form must be completed in full and all the compulsory documents must be submitted before the closing date.

Entries that do not comply with these requirements will be disqualified.

the dti will not be held accountable for product performance or design originality.

The panel of adjudicators and the administrators of the competition undertake to handle all entries in the strictest confidence and not to disclose any information on entries to any other party. However, in the event of a product winning the design may be made public to the media.

Although every reasonable precaution will be taken to ensure the safekeeping of products submitted, the dti cannot be liable for loss of or damage to any entry material.

The decision of the adjudicators is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

By entering this competition and signing the disclaimer the entrant is agreeing to all above-mentioned conditions of entry.

Guidelines to Entry

  • No registration fees is required.
  • Products design must be new, original and ready for production.
  • The theme for the completion is "Public Spaces". As part of promoting localisation, local procurement of furniture, and the use of local inputs, the entrants will be expected to submit concepts and sketches of proposed products using local inputs (e.g wood & textiles). Entrants are required to forward a hard copy of the entry form and all the compulsory information requested.
  • Multiple entries are possible as long as entry form for each is done separately.
  • Entry forms must be signed and mailed to the dti.

Compulsory information to submit:

  • Technical drawing of the product (technical drawings must include the final product dimensions and 3D drawings);
  • Description of materials to be used in production; and
  • Description of the design and the concept behind the design.


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