Cape Town - 120303 - The Design Indaba 2012, held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Here manaquins dressed by various designers in the Cape Town Fashion Council hang above the expo. Reporter: Michelle Jones. Picture: Candice Chaplin.

Staff Writer

A DRAWER made from a milk crate, hats and scarves made from alpaca fleece, sculptures made from paper and a lamp fuelled by olive oil were just some of the products on display at the weekend’s Design Indaba.

Expo manager Kelly Berman said organisers expected this year’s event, which took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, to be the most successful yet. “It’s been very good. The quality of everything on show is better. The whole expo is really beautifully done and well laid out.

“It’s incredibly gratifying to see that this is not just about people coming to be entertained by beautiful-looking things.”

Berman said there had been a lot more trade and shopping this year and some stands had even sold out.

She said a number of exhibitors, particularly young, emerging designers, had benefited from being introduced to buyers from around the world.

Berman said the quality of the products on display had consistently improved, thanks partly to careful curatorship. “We looked very carefully at the people who applied. We take it very seriously. I think the standard has really shown.”

She said there had been “palpable excitement” from visitors who were “waking up” to the design and creativity available in SAl.

Berman said the expo had grown steadily from about 40 exhibitors in 2004 to 350 this year. About 8 000 people had visited the Design Indaba in its first year, compared to 380 000 last year. She said organisers still had to tally up this year’s total but hoped to beat previous numbers.

Yesterday the expo was buzzing as scores of people wandered past the stands which featured crafts, product design, furniture, jewellery, fashion, film, publishing, new media, architecture and graphic design.

The Lily Pad Ring by Kirsten Goss was announced the Most Beautiful Object in SA by the public who voted for it via SMS or online.

A popular exhibit was the Upcycle Flower Lamp which was on display for the first time. The brainchild of Veronica Elgin and Hester Cilliers, the hand-made ceramic sculptures of indigenous flowers are sold with a rope wick and are designed to be placed in a recycled glass jar, filled with olive oil, to create a sustainable light source.

Elgin told the Cape Times: “Every single person, from old to young, has commented on the beauty of the flowers.

“And then they realise it is functional.”