2014 – Kopanang


The Word “Kopanang” means Gathering Together.
Gathers, supports, encourages and empowers women
Started in 2001 with the goal of empowering women by teaching them a skill and allowing them to use their skill as a means of self improvement.
There are 50 Women that work at the Kopanang Community Trust.
Angels & Dolls, Bags, Children’s Gifts, Christmas decorations, Clothing, Home ware Gifts and Wall Hangings.


The basic brief given to the four groups was to take current designs from Kopanang and to refine them in such a manner that they are exciting and fresh while still being socially responsible.
The four items we redesigned are:
Bed Storage
Ipad/Tablet Covers
Packaging Solutions

Project: Kopanang Sub-group 4: Nahana


Improve the design of the Bed Storage from the previous year
Create an easier manufacturing process
Simplify the design of the Bed Storage
Create a demand for the Bed Storage
Entice the ladies to carry on with the design and make it a part of their production


At the bottom of the bed.
Half the size = Half the Cost & Time.
Embroidery will now be seen.
Weighs less = Less Postage Cost.

Velcro strap
Anchors the storage to the bed, because children pull on things.

Icons chosen (Stationery)
The ladies preferred the stationery.
Something different for them to learn.
Exciting for children as they are at the age of recognising visuals.

Children are more visual than verbal nowadays.
Interaction with visuals helps visual-motor integration.


Improves the well being of a child (Educational)
Designed for child’s needs (Fun)
Proceeds go to help people with HIV/AIDS
Ecological product
Empowers the women at the Kopanang Community trust
Sustainable Design

Project: Kopanang Sub Group: 3 Ubuntu 


1. The design should be PRACTICAL to embroid
2. Due to the t-shirt material stretching the embroidery designs should be simplistic OR designs should be embroided on a separate piece of material which is stitched on later
3. The aesthetic of the designs proposed should acquire a unique South African look & feel, with the emphasis on ‘African’ as most of their items (95%) are sold to the international markets
4. To assess the current products and improve the designs – such as size, shape, functionality and position of the embroidered images
5. Create simplistic designs that ensures a complete product range for Kopanang
Simpler design = working faster = more products produced in a short amount of time = income


Community at start of project:
Kopanang’s existing process of designing
1. Template is made by drawing onto scrap fabric with pen
2. Tracing paper is used to trace over the template
3. Embroidery is done on top of the tracing paper
4. Tracing paper is then removed
5. End product

1. Heavy stitching makes the t-shirts too heavy
2. They actually make the t-shirts with a double lining , due to the stitching
3. Their existing process

Kopanang’s existing t-shirts
•The vibrance in colour is dull
•Although part of the t-shirts are African in expression, the design should speak for itself
•Original in their design
•They are beautiful, tactile expressions of hope and women’s empowerment

Kopanang’s products are distributed in many countries, including the USA, UK, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Ireland and Australia.

Target market
Children – round neck style
Safari favourites are the inspired graphic element that creates a fun aspect for kids to appeal to
Safari favourite characters with typographic elements correlate with images
Characters are appealing
Simplistic design

Men – V neck style
•Deconstructed pockets
•Sleeves – strips of material is used
Women – Round neck style
•Collar designs – material and embroidery
•Simplistic graphic detail on the t-shirts

Initial Concept Precedents
Children’s T-shirts – Animal designs
Characters are appealing
Simple design makes it easy to embroid
Represents the animals of South Africa
Practical wardrobe basic that is ideal for kids to wear and play in
Appeals to appear in a variety of forms
Children recognize the animals easily
Stitched outline of the animals is a guideline

Refined animal designs
Children’s T-shirts – Animal designs

Children’s t-shirts
Graphic element – Animals

Concept Precedents
Men’s T-shirts – Deconstructed pocket designs
Deconstructed pocket creates a fun and appealing element
In fashion at the moment
Appeals to a larger target market
Easy to create with their current materials and skills

Men’s t-shirts
Deconstructed pockets with detailing on the sleeves

Concept Precedents
Women’s T-shirts – Collar designs
Peter pan collar can be high, low and vary in width considering all types of women
The collars can be paired with blouses, shirts, knitwear, dresses, jackets and coats thus creating which appeals to a larger market of women
“on trend” with a classic yet funky appeal
Simple patterns and material DIY collars are fun and easy to create that is less time consuming


For us sustainability means quality, long-lasting design, materials that could be used, a transparent production process, ethical working conditions and most of all, designing products that you will cherish forever

On a day-to-day basis, the project was conducted, and allowed to follow a belief that our designs considers the needs of the ladies at Kopanang

The solution was not just about changing the materials to be a bit less harmful or being able to produce products with a little bit smaller carbon footprint, the products needed to be accessible and clear to understand

Within our group we solved the problem as a whole: We wanted to do our part in transforming their design process towards a sustainable future

Ultimately our group worked towards socially responsible smart design with a number of ideals based on the principle that design should be focused on the end user

Therefore, the output of the project is socially responsible as we are teaching these talented ladies a new trade skill and empowering them by making these beautiful products

Moreover, the products are produced from our sustainable template designs that can be used multiple times which can be mixed and matched, thus resulting in two items never being the same





Our group was assigned to redesign an IPAD/ Tablet cover. Our objective is to design a cover that is the accurate size for an IPad or Tablet. The one they currently have at Kopanang caters for the Kindle; as well as it is flimsy and thin therefore it does not sell as well as it should. The Ladies asked us to use a material that will make the cover thicker and less flimsy. The cover should be thick enough to protect the product, it should consist of less embroidery designs that will decrease the time to complete the cover. The embroidery design should still represent Africa reason being their clientele and target market are people abroad, therefore they would appeal more to an African based cover rather than their average every day designed covers.


It is thicker than fasco which is the material they used.
Cost Efficient.

Emergency blanket:
padding (to make it thicker)
Prevents the cover from becoming flimsy
Cost Efficient (1 blanket:R15)
Use one blanket to pad eight covers
Made out of recyclable material which makes it environmentally friendly

It is an African printed fabric.
The ladies preferred to work with it.
There is a variety of patterns.

Doesn’t get the felt dirty.
Easy to clean
Brings out the manly aspect of the cover.
It is much more affordable compared to leather. (R45 per metre).
Adds a difference of material.

Iron-on Material:
Used on the inside of the bag, it is ironed onto the felt to stiffen the felt.
It is affordable at only R12 per meter.

Because we wanted the embroidery to have an African feel to it we decided to use the following: African Continent Animal Print Fynbos Plant