Mbari Dolls Winner of the Rado Star Prize South Africa 2014


Rado is proud to announce Monica Monsanto and her project Mbari Dolls as the winner of the first Rado Star Prize South Africa.

Rado CEO, and member of the Rado Star Prize South Africa 2014 jury, Matthias Breschan congratulated the winning project, stating “Rado is proud to award the very first Rado Star Prize South Africa winner title to Monica Monsanto. Mbari Dolls is an inspiring social design project which is innovative in both its design and concept. We believe that this will truly benefit the lives of others.”

This social design project which consist of two moulds which can be used to create dolls, is aimed at children from low-income households. Research showed that these children often experience a lack of toys, which presumably can cause a lack in literacy, as well as affect their early childhood development. The aim therefore was to design a product that would solve these issues, whilst still being ‘low cost’ and affordable.

The moulds will be issued through regularly purchased items. The packaging shows the dolls and animates the children to collect the moulds and build their own doll. The characters can be made through homemade paper mache recipes that are provided within the packaging. Comprised of four characters, children will be able to differentiate their characters with extras, such as attachable arms, buttons and flowers.

International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) President-Elect and Rado Star Prize South Africa Jury member Dr. Mugendi K. M’Rithaa commented, “This is an excellent example of context-responsive and socially conscious design aimed at social upliftment that authentically references African aesthetic sensibilities coupled with an infectious element of fun... Additionally, the dolls have the potential to truly bridge the socio-economic divide as play is a central human activity the world over.”

Monica Monsanto’s prize consists of ZAR 100,000 to help her develop her design projects as well as an iconic Rado watch and a blog on the design section of Rado’s website in 2015.


Designer's Choice Award


As part of the Rado Star Prize South Africa 2014, the 10 finalists were given the opportunity to vote for their favourite project. This award goes to Christopher Louw for his project AfriDesk. 

Millions of South African children still do not have a desk to work on at school and at home, and yet are still required to maintain a level of education equal to that of the more privileged children. Christopher created a portable desk allowing children to have an assured workspace, regardless of the classroom and home conditions. 

The AfriDesk combines the portable working surface idea with a backpack to carry books and lunches. The desk folds back on itself making it compact and transportable for children of all ages. It will be made of inexpensive, easy to source, local South African materials, including polyester, sponge and recycled tyre rubber.