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Cobra Design Awards: ideas for amazing public spaces

The hip and happening Tin Factory was the location of this year’s Cobra product design competition awards, and provided the setting for interior designers and members of the plumbing industry to rub shoulders. Plumbing Africa was there.

Student designer Marcha Naudé and professional designer Dumisani Tshabalala were announced the winners of the 2016 Cobra Product Design Competition. Their creative public bathroom designs won them a trip to the Salone del Mobile Milano Trade Fair in Italy, valued at R50 000.

George Gibbens was the runner-up in the student category, while the design of Roxanne Ilbury and Ingrid Jones was placed second in the professional category. The University of Johannesburg was judged ‘Most promising institute’.

It was the first time in the four-year history of the competition that public restrooms took centre stage. The entrants had to incorporate aspects like energy and water savings, hygiene, anti-vandalism, product integration, and ease of installation into their designs.

The judges comprised the product designer at Barrows Design and Manufacturing, Murray Sharp; the director at Greg Wright Architects and site interior design, Greg Scott; the category director at Grohe Dawn Watertech, Ronelle Badenhorst; the editor of SA Décor & Design,Marcia Margolius; and the co-owner of Anatomy Design, Megan Hesse.

Cobra PDC  Institute Winner-2

Badenhorst said the judges commended all the entrants for the great innovation they showed in designing within minimal spaces, and for the brilliant mix of materials and finishes used. “It was incredible to see the consideration that went into rethinking the functionality and the use of a public restroom. The designs were all of a very high standard.”

Sharp said Naudé’s entry was a timeless and simple copper shower design, while Tshabalala’s urinal design (which required a lot of research) was well executed and presented. “The runner-up designs were also very impressive. Gibbens designed a hands-free tap with a smart mirror, which we thought perfectly summed up what a public restroom experience should be: easy, quick and hands-free. The grey water system designed by Roxanne Ilbury and Ingrid Jones impressed us with its beautiful minimal, yet trendy design.”

The Salone del Mobile Milano Trade Fair is one of the world’s best design trade fairs. “There will be great networking opportunities for our winners and, of course, they’re going to see first-hand the standard of work being produced on the international stage,” Badenhorst says. The runners-up and the University of Johannesburg each won R10 000.


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