I just love it when designers find design solutions that solve real problems. Yolandi and James from Our Awesome Work have created a fun and functional solution to address the shortage of desks in South African schools. The Baja DIY desk is made from recycled material, weighs less than 4kg and helps to stimulate kids’ cognitive and motor skills.
The desk has been nominated for the inaugural WORLD DESIGN IMPACT PRIZE, hosted by Icsid- International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Read more about the project in our interview below.
Here are a few more examples of their designs.
What is your design philosophy?
To design aesthetic and functional, good quality products that are innovative, but simple to use and understand. “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” – Coco Chanel. Yolandi is a great fan of Gabrielle Coco Chanel’s design style.
James on the other hand is more interested in the manufacturing side of things and is a great thinker when it comes to “the bigger picture”. He often reminds me and others of big entrepreneurs, who also started off on a small scale, such as Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg. Which makes it remarkable to work with him since “nothing is ever impossible” and he will always find a way to come up with a solution or make something work!
Tell us a bit more about your backgrounds?
I grew up us the youngest of two children in Paarl and matriculated at La Rochelle Girls’ High School in 2007. Having an older brother and a gunsmith for a dad, I was quite a little tomboy, I played Lego and by the age of 5 I had asked my parents not to buy me a Barbie again as a birthday present! My creativity comes from my mom’s encouragement and numerous taxi rides to various art classes. After matriculating I went to study Industrial Design at CPUT where James and I met in 2008.
James grew up on a farm in Springbok and matriculated to a private school in Somerset West. After school he studied Jewellery Design and Manufacturing at Stellenbosch University and realised after 6 months it is not for him. He then worked for an Industrial Designer building large scale sets for a well known Tabacco company and also worked for a ceramics factory which mass produced ceramic post for clients such as Woolworths.
In 2008 he enrolled as an Industrial Design student at CPUT. In between his studies he worked for his dad’s Civil Engineering company where he was in charge of finishing the seven beautifully designed white pedestrian bridges on Nelson Mandela Boulevard just in time for the Fifa World Cup 2010!
Your Baja is such a great idea, tell us a bit more about it.
It started off as a university project, which I strongly believed in and decided to take it further. With a combined initiative from James and myself, I started researching the drastic desk shortage in SA, and especially with the Western Cape itself in mind. Whilst browsing the internet one day, I coincidentally came across Icsid- International Council of Societies of Industrial Design’s call for nominations for their inaugural “World Design Impact Prize 2011”. Before I could wipe my eyes, I was one of only 22 nominees internationally to be nominated for this great initiative. (Icsid- International Council of Societies of Industrial Design is also the organisation who’s brainchild is the “World Design Capital Bid”)
We were also extremely privileged to present Baja to a creative crowd of 300+ people at The Assembly when two of the Icsid’s judges were on their official visit to Cape Town for “Cape Town for World Design Capital 2014”, towards the end of July.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
Baja has had such a tremendous snowball effect, which has kept us “Baja” (very) busy for the last few months. The shortlist for the World Design Impact Prize is also announced by Icsid the same day when Cape Town hear whether we have received the “Cape Town for World Design Capital 2014” title.
We are looking forward to launching six of our products at Design Indaba 2012. Watch this Awesome Space!