A NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) third year interior design student has walked away with top honours at a national competition in Johannesburg.
Anke de Wit's mushroom-inspired design came out tops against all other South African universities offering architecture and interior design at the PG Bison 1.618 competition.
Before making it to the top 10, De Wit faced stiff competition from 100 other hopefuls. Their brief was simple - nature had to be seen everywhere.
De Wit based her design on mushrooms which pop up overnight after a healthy amount of rain. She incorporated a lookout point from a mushroom's perspective – from the ground upwards.
Her "escape space" integrates nature, different perspectives and various activities such as star-gazing and bungy jumping from the mushroom structure against a cliff.
"When I saw the other students' designs, I thought 'there is no way I am going to win'."
She won an all-expenses-paid trip to next year's Furniture Fair in Milan, Italy, valued at R60000, and a TFG (The Foschini Group) voucher worth R15000.
"I think the fair is for professionals so I will not be competing. For a South African to be going there is such a privilege. I will get to meet people already in the industry."
De Wit, who already has a chemistry degree, said she almost quit in her second year of interior design. "I worked at different pharmacies, but decided to study something that would give me the platform to be creative.
"I paid for my first year and used up all of my retirement money. I never told anyone but I received an anonymous call from someone who paid for my second year – R40000. I still do not know who that person is and I cannot thank them, but I always pray for them."
NMMU design lecturer Lené Smit, who will be going to Milan with De Wit, said: "We are immensely proud of Anke's achievements."