In the world of design, it’s all about the Design Indaba this week; as everyone, not only in SA – but all over the world – reflect back on what beautiful things, product design and innovation was introduced to the market last weekend at the expo. (For those not in the know, the Design Indaba in an annual cultural conference and expo held in Cape Town, it is often dubbed as the conference and expo of “creativity”, and is most certainly the only one of its kind in Africa).

Huge for East London is that proudly local company, Wintec Innovation, who launched their product “Stratflex Furniture” at the Indaba, walked away with the very prestigious 2013 Innovation Award!!!! Can they have a standing ovation please?!

“STRATFLEX™ is a newly patented technology and design innovation that enables rigid flat boards to be strategically flexed, in two and three dimensions, to create seating and related products for the flat pack market. The easy-to-assemble STRATFLEX™ range is manufactured from Finnish plywood and combined with frames made from locally sourced sustainable Saligna timber”.

The “Stratflex” line of seating introduces a novel concept into the world of flatpack furniture: curves. By embedding a grid of flexible polymer (structural fabric) into its plywood surface, the Stratflex furniture line is able to form more complex shapes and surfaces than traditional flat-pack products, which tend toward more angular forms.

The assembled products, with their retro, classical styling, are reminiscent of the Modern Classic furniture designed by Ray and Charles Eames, as well as architectural Greats Mies Van de Rhoe and Le Corbusier. What makes the “Stratflex” range really stand out though is the visibly grey polymer lines which run along the surfaces. These just enhance and elevate the design of the chairs making them quite graphic , contemporary and beautiful. The rubber also has a practical use as it allows the chair to flex and bend, making in extremely conformable to sit in.

Design Indaba Expo manager Kelly Berman said: “We were impressed by Stratflex’s combination of materials, development and application. It’s truly innovative, affordable, uses mostly local raw material and creates employment. We’re excited about the flexibility of the technology and how its application could be developed even further into other products, even beyond furniture.”

The Stratflex furniture range is designed and manufactured right here in Mdantsane by Wintec Innovation. They are a proudly local family-run company who support the local community with job creation – and as they launch into the international market, staying local is something the Stratford family is very passionate about.

Al Stratford, who is the founder of Wintec and inventor extraordinaire of Stratflex has said of his award: “This award is the culmination of a life of looking at, feeling, touching and thinking design. The product gives me a legacy to leave to those around me. Design Indaba gives us a launching pad for recognition in South Africa and internationally.”

This product may have been years of designing and engineering in-the-making, but in fact their journey has just started! I had a chat with Gary Murray – marketing manager of Wintec Innovation – who said that the response to the furniture range has been overwhelming! They already have orders pouring in, including 150 “Impi” cafe chairs for a restaurant in London. Yes, London (as in England)!!!

Wishing Wintec Innovation nothing but success as they ride this exciting wave of design brilliance.

If you are interested to find out more about their oh-so-cool furniture line, check out: or else you can find them on Facebook and Twitter.

If you are keen to own one of these innovative chairs, retail prices start at R1700.