Eye on the Prize: Catching Up With the 2017 Winner of the 1.618 Competition

Stephan Diedericks won the trip of a lifetime last year, taking first place in the PG Bison 1.618 Competition. Winning a trip for himself and his lecturer to attend the Furniture Fair in Milan, Italy in April this year, Stephan has returned from the experience with a wealth of memories and inspiration.

Arriving at the Furniture Fair

“The sheer scale of this event is difficult to describe.”


Catching up with Stephan and his lecturer, Zack Wessels, they were clearly stunned by the enormity of the event, not to mention the venue. The Massimiliano Fuksas building is an architectural wonder, encompassing 640 080 square meters of space in its 1.5 kilometre length. And all that while still maintaining a sensitivity to the social interaction associated with Milan, with people lounging about peacefully together on the public lawns.

That was just the outside of the venue, though. Making their way through and into the heart of the Fair: “What we experienced was world-class materials, finishes and designs.”

Everything from decorative surface solutions and furniture to innovative designs exploring lighting and more was on display. One of the highlights here was the student exhibition, showcasing work by students, like Stephan, challenging the conceptions of the design and architecture industries.

What they didn’t realise before this was that the Furniture Fair took place during Milan’s Design Week.


“We wondered the streets of Milan and engaged in galleries, design shops, markets and the vibe was really busy.”

Taking in the rich history

Being in Italy, Stephan naturally took the once in a lifetime opportunity to take in as much of the architectural splendour as possible. They visited the Duomo Cathedral, Castel Sforza, a park, a manmade river, and even an eerie chapel decorated with skulls (a true variety of design tastes). And amongst these historic sites they also came across a host of contemporary designs: “What was evident was the clever integration of its historic fabric with a contemporary lifestyle.”

Interestingly, in an earlier interview Stephan mentioned that he admired the design work of Carlo Scarpa specifically because his approach to architecture “questions what design could be, but at the same time accommodates the old.” What an experience it must have been to walk through a city characterised by this very approach.

From the wonders of Milan, Stephan took his journey further through the streets of Verona, Venice and Florence. We eagerly await the steps he will take from there in the architecture and design industry.

PG Bison’s 1.618 Competition, 2018

2018 sees PG Bison’s 1.618 Competition coming back with a brand new brief. This year’s brief focuses on the transformation of the Coke House in the historic Johannesburg Gas Works, bringing a touch of modern, sustainable awareness into this historic landmark.

A final note

The team at PG Bison are proud to have been a part of the South African design community for more than 26 years, watching students inspire those around them with their successes in the 1.618 competition. It is their mission to keep inspiring the ingenuity and creativity of South African designers, as well as contribute to the progress through education of our talented future designers and architects.

Congratulations again, Stephan, and good luck to those taking part in the 2018 competition!