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Meet the judges - Buhle Mathole, 2019


Buhle Mathole founded Kabu Design Architects in 2007. Her firm carries a deep sense of pride in its African heritage. We asked Buhle what it means for her to be a judge in the Architecture Category of the 2019 awards.

PPC Imaginarium

What are looking forward to about your experience as a judge?

To be challenged by the minds of young designers and unfiltered ideas – possibilities and challenging the status quo. Being able to give pragmatic input and critique based on a wealth of experience as a practitioner as well as a design lecturer with over 10 years’ experience. I am actually looking forward to being challenged. I will be sad if I am not.


What themes do you think will emerge in this year's PPC Imaginarium Awards? 

To be honest I am not sure. Personally I find a lot more students entrenched in the ideas of globally digitising our discourse - engagements on social media platforms and how that affects Architects, etc.


The brief of the migrant threshold is intriguing and as a designer myself, I have a lot going on in my mind, but await to see its interpretation.


How do you think young artists can gauge their success in the industry? 

I believe that artists can gauge their success by social responsiveness to their art and craft. I believe that the current global world has opened up those opportunities, and now people are no longer only commissioned because of their social status and/or financial position in society. Although some with no “voices” are still not heard. Hence my view that creatives can start using other global platforms to express their art so they can be heard.


What are you looking for as a judge?

I am looking for clarity in response to the brief. Concise disposition (distilling ideas) and not being “all over the show”. Graphic enticement in expressing the discourse and ideas to the viewer. Uniqueness. RESPONSE to the South African context and problematic ideas on migration and shelter. In-depth understanding is critical.


Please tell us a little about your own career and how this experience is relevant to the PPC Imaginarium Awards and your role as a judge?

I am a black South African and a designer who has, in my journey of life, been affected by issues of migration – movement to urban places in search of a better life, effects on family life, etc. Doug Saunders alludes to some aspects of this in his writings. But to have experienced these matters and their complexities first-hand rather than as educational discourse, brings a different flavour to the judging panel.


My career as an Architect has not necessarily been focused on this subject, but I have been a migrant in terms of my work experiences: I have worked in different places and cities due to being a curious personality and having an urge to see how the global world works.


What tip/s would you give to someone just starting out in their career.

Understand the language of your engagement and subject matter and be patient with your journey. Rome was not built in a day. As cliched as this might be it summarises the notion well.


What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation means excellence and exploration that meet social needs. I am a firm believer that if an innovation is not a solution to socio economic problems, and that if it does not advance or ease living conditions in that particular arena, it exists merely to be boastful and arrogant - that is, of course, a personal viewpoint.

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