Cutting-edge, functional designs that speak to the needs of next-generation consumers are at the heart of Cobra Watertech’s 2013 Cobra Design Competition, which aims to identify the ‘next big thing’ in terms of great tap and mixer designs.
The competition is open to student, plumbers, designers, architects, specifiers and everyone with a penchant for design and calls on entrants to design a high quality tap or mixer worthy of bearing the Cobra brand name.
“Design is very important to us,” says Ramielle De Jager, Cobra Product Manager. “We’ve always paid careful attention to every detail in the design of our products and this focus has set us apart from our competitors. It’s because of this that the competition concentrates specifically on product design.”
The hunt for a timeless design
For more than 60 years Cobra has manufactured taps, mixers and a host of technical plumber’s products for the market. Although its core business and focus on quality craftsmanship hasn’t changed in this time, its customers have. “We’re finding that our target market is younger, more design oriented and wants greater value for money. It’s with this in mind that we’re looking for fresh new product designs that meet these needs,” she adds.
The Cobra Star range of taps and mixers is a stalwart of Cobra design and a South African favourite, having been successfully manufactured and specified in local homes and offices for the past 50 years. The Cobra Design Competition aims to unearth tap and mixer designs with similar appeal and permanency.
Aside from form and function, the competition also focuses on new technologies, such as alternative materials and efficient manufacturing processes. While Cobra manufactures all its fittings from DZR brass – the highest specification of brass that offers exceptional resistance to dezincification corrosion – it is exploring alternative materials that are in line with this high specification brass material requirement. It also uses polymers in its products and its research and development department is constantly looking for alternative materials, particularly eco-friendly substitutes.
Cobra has made large investments into eco-friendly manufacturing processes and entrants are urged to bear this in mind when considering the materials and manufacturability of their taps and mixers.
High quality designs expected
Energy efficient design features are high on the judges’ list, along with increased functionality and organic design – the new buzzword in contemporary design. The expectations of entries in this regard are exceptionally high. “We’re expecting a high calibre of entries into the competition and, in particular, many inspiring concepts. Design in South Africa has come on in leaps and bounds and we’re right up there with the best designers in the world. We hope to see designs on a par with those showcased at Design Indaba recently. Essentially, we’re looking for the Heath Nash of the tap world!” says De Jager.
The competition also adds great value to the local design fraternity, an aspect furthered through its incorporation in the curricula at the three universities in South Africa that offer industrial design as a course.
“We want to add value to the design industry in the sense that we open people’s minds to all the different types of products that need to be designed. It’s not only furniture and inspiring decor pieces that have a design element, but also something as basic as a tap that can be tweaked and spiced up with a good design style,” she adds.
The competition comprises two categories: students (for fulltime students at all SA tertiary institutions, including design centres and schools of design) and other (for emerging professional designers or aspirant designers working in other fields who wish to break into the design industry). The prizes include R30 000 cash for the winner in each category and R15 000 for each runner-up. Cobra will also recognise the institution attended by the winning student entrant by awarding it R10 000.
Participants may only enter in one category but may enter as many different designs for either taps or mixers, provided each entry is done separately. The designs should be for a tap or mixer that would provide the direction for a complete tap ware range.
Designs must be original and comply with the relevant SANS standard. For more information on standards, entrants may contact the SABS or Cobra.
Entries will be judged by a panel of experts from the plumbing, manufacturing and design fields according to the following criteria: innovation and uniqueness of the design and materials used; fitness for purpose; marketing potential; aesthetics; compliance with SANS standards; manufacturability and water efficiency.
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