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This article appeared in The Herald on 20 February 2016 written by Gillian McAinsh. 

SOUTH African designers, industry insiders, fashionistas and the general public voted a shawl by Port Elizabeth designer Laduma Ngxokolo as the winner of the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at the Design Indaba in Cape Town yesterday.

CREATIVE: A shawl by PE’s Laduma Ngxokolo was voted Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at the Design Indaba

The audience at a live streaming of the event at the Athenaeum in Central reacted with delight as they watched MC Michelle Constant call up a representative from Chivas Regal to award the prize.

“I feel extremely honoured as there are more than 100 000 designs being created yearly in South Africa and having mine singled out is the greatest honour of all,” Ngxokolo said in Cape Town yesterday. He flies back to Italy today to continue his design studies in Milan.

Ngxokolo describes his mohair and wool shawl – which used fibre from his home province – as adaptable with a versatility that complements its beauty. The “X” motif features prominently, a strong signal of his Xhosa identity and heritage.

“The X motif is very meaningful to me,” he said. “I love the distinctive Xhosa sound. It’s interpreted from traditional Xhosa beadwork dating back to the late 19th century, which I’ve translated into a more modern design.”

Designer and curator Tracy Lynch nominated the black-andwhite knitted shawl – inspired by the designer’s cultural background – as one of 10 chosen from across the country.

Port Elizabeth designer Thabo Makhetha-Kwinana also had a garment – a stylised Basotho blanket coat – in the final 10.

Other entries included items of furniture, a skateboard, a building made from bottles and a recipe for pea wasabi mousse, but it was the NMMU fashion graduate whose work hit the sweet spot. 

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