Last year saw 15 product designs spanning a variety of industrial sectors receive SABS Design Excellence Awards. The majority of the products came from the engineering, mining and machinery category, but there were also innovative medical, homeware and information technology products that received awards. Attie Jonker, design team leader of the JS1-Revelation, an 18-m wingspan glider that won last year’s Chairperson’s Award for the most innovative product, says that winning a SABS Design Excellence Award has resulted in huge publicity for their product, both on television and in the print media.
The SABS Design Excellence Awards entries, presented by the SABS Design Institute, are adjudicated by top industry experts and every year an international judge joins the judging panel. Entries fall into one of six categories. These are home and office ware, medical and healthcare, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, transport, automotive, mining and machinery. Then there are also awards made in education, leisure, sports goods or toys, the built environment, including components, urban furniture, equipment, tools, as well as electronics, information and communication technology (ICT). The product must have been on the market for a year or more and award-winning products will be showcased at the annual SABS Convention, held in Johannesburg in October.
Running at the same time of SABS Design Excellence Award scheme will be the SABS Design Institute’s Prototype Initiative where product designers with working prototype models will have the opportunity to get advice on how to get their prototypes out of the garage and on the way to production.
The Prototype initiative involves a free consultation with a small panel of design experts, consisting of eminent South African designers and engineers. Consultations will be confidential and will focus on the design aspects of the prototype. The consultation sessions will take place at the SABS Design Institute in Pretoria in the week of 7 to 11 July 2008.
By entering their prototypes, designers also become eligible to attend the Idea to Product seminars presented at various centres throughout South Africa, free of charge. These seminars deal with common problems experienced by product developers. Entries for the Prototype initiative also close on 15 May.
The SABS Design Excellence Award scheme aims to recognise the achievements of South African product designers, while also encouraging local product design and manufacture and promoting international competitiveness of local products. This award scheme has established a proud tradition of promoting indigenous design.