The hottest young designers in South Africa have been unveiled thanks to the Nando’s bi-annual talent search.

The hottest young designers in South Africa have been unveiled thanks to the Nando’s bi-annual talent search.

The Nando’s Hot Young Designer Talent Search (HYD) has announced its much-awaited list of finalists for 2020. The popular competition, now in its third iteration, aims to unearth fresh new designs and launch the careers of local emerging creatives. For the 2020 edition of HYD, young designers were asked to create a unique bench that responds sensitively to seating needs in a time of social distancing.

The 2020 HYD finalists were chosen by a prestigious panel of eight industry judges including pre-eminent local furniture designers Thabisa Mjo of Mash T Design Studio and Mpho Vackier of The Urbanative, who were jointly awarded Designer of the Year at the 2019 100% Design South Africa Awards; Steve Smith, the Editor of Visi; Annemarie Meintjies, Deputy Editor of Visi; Creative Director Tracy Lynch of Studio Leelynch and the Nando’s Design Programme; Michael Spinks, Property and Development Director for Nando’s; art director Jo Skelton of the Nando’s Design Programme; and editor Malibongwe Tyilo, also of the Nando’s Design Programme.

The judging took place during September 2020 and was segmented into two phases, with the process taking a total of three weeks to complete. In the first phase, a shortlist of 22 entries was created from the initial flood of submissions. Members of the Nando’s Clout team, comprising Lynch, Spinks and Tyilo, voted on the shortlist inclusions using a set of criteria mapped to the entry requirements. This shortlist of 22 entries was then put before the entire judging panel, which used the same set of criteria to vote for the top ten entries.

Due to the high standard of the entries received, there was a tie for one of the places, and one entry had two designers who were jointly responsible for the submission, resulting in a total of 11 projects by 12 finalists being chosen, instead of 10 names.

The 2020 HYD finalists are:

Anele Vezi
Bebe Donnolly
Christian Botha
Darren Myburgh
Jan de Wet & Jeanne Scholtz
Katlego Tshuma
Mimi Roberts
Ngwako Matloha
Sipho Twala
Siviwe Jali
Thando Nxelewa

Speaking of the quality of work demonstrated by the entrants, Lynch was “blown away by the incredibly creative responses to a very challenging brief. The entries were powerful and beautifully presented. Receiving these well-conceived expressions, which highlight the layers of our unique heritage and reflect the future of South African design from our emerging designers, fills me with hope and happiness. If the future is in the hands of this generation, then we have so much to look forward to!”

Now that the HYD finalists have been announced, all 12 will be invited to a mentorship session hosted by Nando’s that is set to take place in November 2020. To allow these 12 young designers to benefit from the experience and wisdom of those who are already established in their careers, a range of top local designers have been invited share their design approach, career journey and workshop style. The overall winner of the HYD will be announced at a separate event, to be held at Constitution Hill once the first mentorship workshop is concluded.

For more information on Nando’s HYD 2020, please visit

Connect on social media.