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Design wizards excel at kitchen design challenge

by Gerrit Bester

Three Interior Design students who excelled in the recent Kitchen Design Project 2022 of the Kitchen Specialist Association (KSA) agree that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Design wizards Celuxolo Mndletshe and Bongani Masinga reached the top five of the competition, and Donovan Labuschagne received an honourable mention.

The project gave students experience in the real world of kitchen design and was much more than just about design. Students had to work within a set budget and learn about materials, how they are used, and how much they cost. They also had to think about how much it would cost to make and install their designs and figure out how much their time was worth.

The project was finished during the third year's Work-Integrated Learning module. The ten best designs from the institutions that took part were sent to the KSA for feedback. The top five were chosen, and each was offered a three-month internship with a KSA member in 2023.

The focus of the project was how COVID-19 changed society after the long lockdown, how we do things differently, and how our lives have changed. Students were given two briefs to choose from and were told to think about how to combine interesting materials and textures that are sustainable, won't go out of style, but still show their own style. They were also told to embrace the new trend toward easy maintenance and cost-effectively getting a high-end look.

What does this achievement mean to the students as well as the internship opportunity? Celuxolo says: "It means a lot to me. It has boosted my confidence and made me realise that I am capable of great designs. Reaching the top five has made me proud, as I know it takes hard work and a lot of pushing to win. Nelson Mandela’s words, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done’ pushed me when I thought of giving up. The internship opportunity will help me learn all the rights and wrongs I was never aware of as a student. It will also help me grow and stay positive."

Bongani says: "It is definitely a confidence booster to be bolder and more daring in my approach to living up to whatever form of design brief is given to me. The internship is an amazing opportunity that can give us more practical experience in the kitchen design industry and could also turn out to be the start of one's career."

Donovan is equally excited about his achievement: "The opportunity to be part of the KSA competition was a fantastic eye-opener. I knew I wanted to design homes, and now I know I want to specialize in kitchen design. This competition made me realize that. The kitchen is the centrepiece of the home. My achievement means that I can now fully focus on designing kitchens, and my internship will help me understand more about the industry."

Their proud lecturer, Clifford Moleko, says: "It is an incredible achievement for the Department because it demonstrates our vision, which is Connect, Design, and Influence. This means that we have made the connection with industry, and the solution-driven designs produced by the students are local and cognizant of real life, with the goal of influencing the industry, the community, and our local design landscape."

· As a national association, the KSA looks to represent the country's reputable kitchen manufacturers and associated suppliers with a view to facilitating solution-driven resolutions between members and consumers and facilitating growth and education within the industry.

Celuxolo Mndletshe is now an intern at Easylife Kitchens, Faerie Glen, Pretoria.

Celuxolo’s design:

Donovan Labuschagne is now an intern at Easylife Kitchens, Zambezi, Pretoria.

Donovan’s design:

Bongani Masinga now works full time at Optima Kitchens, a KSA accredited kitchen design company, and he is also an advisory committee member of the African Institute of the Interior Design Professionals (IID).

Bongani’s design:


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