South Africa's most innovative brandy bar designs were scrutinised by the designer of the 2012 London Olympic Games torch.
London-based designer Jay Osgerby received the Order of the British Empire for services to design in October. Van Ryn's Distillery in Stellenbosch hosted the FINE BRANDY bar design competition in November, where the top three entries in the running to create the ultimate bar experience were selected. Furniture designer Peet van Straaten, Interior Design student Yolandi Kotze and 3D visualisation designer Ryan Roberts were named as the front runners for the R50 000 prize.
"We were looking for a bar which enhances the consumer experience at tasting events held by FINE BRANDY. BY DESIGN, a collection of premium potstill brandies - Oude Meester Demant, Van Ryn's 12 Year Old Distillers Reserve, Klipdrift Gold, Flight of the Fish Eagle and Collison's White Gold," said Caroline Scott, brand manager for FINE BRANDY.
"We are seeking to change perception of brandy as an after-dinner drink to one that is recognized as an international award-winning spirit which is versatile and can be enjoyed in many different ways."
Speaking at the event, Design Indaba Founder Ravi Naidoo said South African potstill brandy should be more highly valued. Designing a bar takes a very interesting dimension. Beyond the object it is about designing an experience. So the judges had a very vexing experience but at the end of the day settled on three great propositions."
Osgerby drew parallels between the FINE BRANDY bar design project and the creation of the Olympic torch. "You were also marrying symbolism, reflecting quality, beauty and craft," he told the designers via Skype.
Osgerby unpacked the design process and journey he and partner Edward Barber had followed to win the bid to design the 8 000 torches for the historic relay.
"It is the most important project we have ever done," he said. "In designing it we had to look at what the object needed to do and study the constraints that make up the brief – such as the British weather. We had to design a torch that resonated not only UK residents but with the rest of the world. We were responsible for capturing everyone's dreams and hopes in an object."
Some of South Africa's best designers including interior designers Piers Mansfield, interior designer Andrea Kleinloog and fashion and textile designer Sindiso Khumalo were shortlisted in the top 10 with wildcard entries Simona Hendey, Yolandi Kotze, Altus Van Ziyl and Yonan Du Toit.
The overall winner of the bar design competition will remain a secret until the bar is brought to life at the 2014 Design Indaba.