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Q&A with 2017 Industrial Design category runner-up, Deon de Lange

Ceramics artist Deon de Lange says that being introduced to concrete has inspired him to create more products using the medium. We chatted to him about his experience of the competition and what advice he has for those entering the next cycle of the PPC Imaginarium Awards.

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1. What was your reaction when you heard them announce you as the runner-up of the Industrial Design category?

I was very excited and pleased to get recognition for my work. From seeing social media posts before the event, I knew that there was some stiff competition.

 

2. Tell us a bit about yourself. What did you study?

I had no formal training in any art or design field. I come from a ceramics background and many years ago took a leap of faith by starting to produce items that I would want to use in my own living space. They were well received by both the public and the media, and resulted in my creating work for many people. Although I have moved on to concrete, the factory is still going strong.

 

3. What made you enter the competition?

Apart from the prize money and exposure, the competition also forces one to think out of the box and create things that you would otherwise never make. Concrete is a relatively new medium to be used for purposes other than construction, so it forces you to push your own boundaries.

 

4. What was your experience of the competition?

The competition is run very professionally and the judges are very aware of trends and what has been done before. I was able to brainstorm with friends and colleagues that have also entered, often motivating each other and experimenting with additives to obtain the desired finish and effect.

 

5. What inspired your concept?

My initial thought was what could I do in concrete that defies its perception. Being a stark, rigid material, I wanted to create something that gives the impression of the material being bent and folded. As I started doodling some lines on paper, I was reminded of my childhood where we often drew graffiti of the character “Kilroy”. Thinking of what the doodle could become, I decided on a storage system for spare toilet rolls, which would form the eyes. I feel that with today’s spaces being small, items should be both functional and decorative.

 

6. Where to next now that you have won an award from the PPC Imaginarium Awards?

I still have a long way to go with the medium. I want to become more competent in using technology to design new products and to make prototypes. I have a long list of products I still want to make and hope to see concrete being bought more by the public.

 

7. What insights or advice do you have for those entering the 2018 awards?

Just do it. There is so much information available on the Internet and people are always willing to help you with formulas. Even if you have never touched concrete before, your skills acquired in whatever medium you are working in is already half the battle won.

 

8. What would you like to see more of in the art and design sector of South Africa?

I would like to see the public appreciating handcrafted products more. Retailers and galleries should support local talent and not take ideas and have them copied in other countries just to make a bigger profit.

 

9. Should anyone want to view or purchase your designs, how can they contact you?

I have a small retail outlet in 27 Boxes in Melville, Johannesburg (aptly named Concrete Jungle) where I sell products I make as well as work by other artisans. I can be contacted directly at ddl@tiscali.co.za or on 072 134 9613. Follow me on Facebook at Concrete Jungle Decor or on Instagram at concretejungle27boxes.

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