Can design help us understand and appreciate our cultural diversity? This was the question posed by this year’s ‘Making the Difference Through Design’ competition, now in its third year and once again sponsored jointly by Sappi and Woolworths in conjunction with Woolworths ‘Making the Difference Through Design’ education initiative. Judging by the many entries received from high schools around the country, the answer is a resounding “yes”. The Woolworths ‘Making the Difference Through Design’ programme is currently supporting the design curriculum at some 400 schools in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Art and Design learners in Grades 10, 11 and 12 in these schools were invited to enter this year’s edition of this annual competition, whose purpose is to inspire learners to use their creative abilities and demonstrate them practically, as well as to develop their awareness of the environment. This was the first time this competition has been run on a national basis. As in previous years, learners were permitted to use only waste materials in creating their design, which could be either two- or three-dimensional. The theme for this year’s competition was “design cul-cha”. Learners were asked to develop a new design or product inspired by a fusion of two or more South African “cul-chas”, and to investigate current trends and the industry for which they were designing. As Penny Luthi, who manages the ‘Making the Difference’ programme at Woolworths, explains, “South Africa’s rich diversity of cultures offers virtually limitless inspiration for the designer.” “Our goal this year was to encourage learners to look beyond their own cultures and explore how they could blend their own heritage with the heritage and culture of other groups to create something new and exciting terms of visual communications, product design, surface design or environmental design.” “As part of our Good business journey, Woolworths is committed not only to driving social development by supporting education, but also to protecting the environment by reducing waste and encouraging others to do so. Limiting students to recycled materials helps them understand the amount of waste material that ends up in landfill every day and challenges their creativity in finding new uses for it,” adds Luthi. “We are continually amazed at the depth and range of creative solutions these youngsters are able not only to imagine, but to actually demonstrate.” Says Kathy Ormerod, business development manager at Sappi Fine Paper, “The Woolworths Making the Difference through Design initiative is an ideal platform for Sappi. Firstly, it is aimed at furthering education, which is the key pillar of Sappi’s corporate social responsibility programme. Secondly, the design community is an important target market for Sappi and this initiative speaks to both current and future designers in South Africa. Woolworths is one of Sappi’s key partners in terms of paper and print solutions and we are proud to have partnered with Woolworths in this competition since 2005.” Provincial winners for 2008 were: Kaz Le Bihan a Grade 11 learner at Crawford College, Gauteng who created a drum-inspired stool; Grade 11 learner Jasmin Brijlal from Durban Girls School, whose “waste coat” was the winner in KwaZulu-Natal; and Meghan Lombard, a Grade 12 learner at Fish Hoek High School, whose sculpture took top honours in the Western Cape. Lombard’s entry was adjudged the overall national winner. Ends