Students reimagine Merc’s future

WORDS Nadine Theron


Student designers across South Africa shared their ideas for future retail space in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Student Designer competition and VISI’s own Annemarie Meintjes was there to judge the winners.

How will we shop in the future?

Under the auspices of the Pretoria Institute of Architects (PIA), Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) invited design students to answer this question by creating an alternative shopping experience – an inspirational space where customers can connect with each other and the brand. Be it in the shape of a pop-up showroom, a boutique, a coffee shop or a hangout, the brief was to attract a wider audience in conventional shopping centre environments.

The judging panel consisted of president of PIA Pieter Mathews, MBSA consultant architect Faan Nel, interior designer Wilna Strey, deputy editor of VISI Annemarie Meintjes and senior MBSA management members Selvin Govender, Florian Seidler and Phil Longbottom.  

“The response was amazing,” says Annemarie. “Incredible entries were received from a diversity of students from all parts of the country.”

So who won?

The PIA Ideas Conference (read VISI’s reportback here) was the perfect opportunity to host a prestigious awards ceremony on 23 May at the Brooklyn Theatre, alongside an exhibition of the award-winning designs.  

Frederik Engelbrecht was awarded R20 000 for his conceptual shopping space that aimed at tearing away the exterior. The winning design was inspired by the skeletal interior of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, focusing on the hidden details inside to allow customers an experience of the process of design. He also implemented the use of suspended objects to create a feeling of tension and exhilaration, luring customers to the core.

In second place, Mila Bolt received R10 000, and third-place winner Estelle Kruger was awarded R5 000. Each of the five finalists, who also included Billy Ernst and Armand Meyer, attended the two-day Ideas Conference as part of their reward.  

“The five finalists were selected based on how practically executable their scheme was, the understanding of the brand, as well as the ‘energy’ of the design,” explained Annemarie.

The link between architecture and automotive design is clear. Both can merge visionary ideas with practical form. Both are also inextricably linked to lifestyle choices. 

Originally published on MB Life.

Read more articles from our deputy editor Annemarie Meintjes.