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Open call: Design a ’12th Chair’ For Constitution Hill

A new design competition calls for an imagining of a ‘People’s chair’, where all people will take a seat in expression of their power.

The Constitutional Court has 11 chairs for the 11 judges who uphold the Constitution. To remind us that the Constitution was written by and for the people of South Africa, Constitution Hill has put out a call for the design of a ’12th chair’ – a ‘People’s chair’. The call is for a chair that represents the people’s seat of power as guardians of the Constitution, to express their values and from which to speak boldly.

‘We encourage designs that re-imagine and re-invent the aesthetics of power and envision a chair in which all people will feel comfortable and empowered. The chosen chair will find its permanent place on Constitution Hill.’

Vanessa September, CEO of the Constitution Hill Trust

The timing of the call is poignant. The impact of Covid-19, political unrest, and the lack of social cohesion all bolster the need for a chair that represents the people of South Africa.

As we enter Heritage Month, the design brief reminds us of South Africa’s shift in the aesthetics of power. During South Africa’s apartheid years, seats of power were built to control and oppress, elevating the occupier of the seat above the heads of the majority of the nation. With the advent of our constitutional democracy came the rethinking of these aesthetics.

Constitution Hill

Dawn Robertson, CEO at Constitution Hill Development Company explains, ‘We call on entrants to immerse themselves in the site and particularly unpack the design of the Constitutional Court. This is where 11 judges take their seats to hear some of the most important matters in the life of the nation. They do so in a chamber that is inspired by the time-honoured African notion of justice under a tree. They do so by taking seats that are deliberately placed to ensure that the eye-line of the judges is in line with those they are talking to.’

  • This competition is open to South African citizens of all ages, experience, and design levels.
  • A shortlist of 12 finalists will be prototyped and exhibited at the 12th Chair Exhibition at Basha Uhuru Festival in October 2021.
  • The winning entry will be announced on 9 December 2021 at Constitution Hill.
  • The winning designer will work with a manufacturing team who will assist with the making of the 12th chair.
  • The 12th chair will be unveiled at the Human Rights Festival in March 2022.
  • The winning entry will be awarded a cash prize of R10 000.
  • Think, dream and design your 12th chair. Complete the online application form including your story and design before 24 September 2021.
  • To enter the competition now, visit the Con Hill website.

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