Friday, March 20, 2009

"There's no time for cynicism anymore," declared design activist Bruce Mau near the end of the first day of the 2009 Design Indaba Conference. The spontaneous burst of cheering that his commitment to creative change roused, sums up the spirit of this year's event.
Running from 25 to 27 February at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the event attracted more than 2 100 conference and simulcast delegates. The vision of a better, previously unimagined world was played out by a cast of more than 30 top international and creative thinkers.

From category killers such as the world's best chef, Ferran AdriĆ , to the compelling surprise offered by Mohit Jayal and V Sunil from the W+K Delhi advertising agency, the curation of the event was pinned on diversity and excellence.

Rapt with passion and stimulation, the marketers, executives, designers, architects, students and academics in both auditoriums, were provoked with everything from electric cars, low-cost housing solutions, future farms, laboratory meat products and automated graphic design to animals as medical devices, food that quantifies emotional value, innovation through crowd-sourcing and colour-hunting in the Amazon... Not to mention Nobumichi Tosa's nonsense machines and Javier Mariscal's live-action animation finale.

Indeed it would be hard to forget anyone with the 5.5 Designers, AdamsMorioka, Ferran AdriĆ , Marian Bantjes, BarberOsgerby, Stephen Burks, Commonwealth, Dunne&Raby, Li Edelkoort, Dai Fujiwara, Keith Helfet, Jannes Hendrikz, Luyanda Mpahlwa, Javier Mariscal, Bruce Mau, Keith Rose, Roger Smythe, Dwayne Spradlin, Frank Tjepkema, Nobumichi Tosa, Patricia Urquiola, Rick Valicenti, W+K Delhi, Marcel Wanders and Craig Wessels, each making the event unforgettable.

For a glimpse into the minds of the future's great designers, for the first time Design Indaba this year hosted the top graduates from design institutions across the world to share their work in Pecha Kucha format. Speaking at the conference were Jon Stam from Design Academy Eindhoven, Sandhya Lalloo from the University of Johannesburg, Revital Cohen from the Royal College of Art in London, Arno Mathies from ECAL Lausanne in Switzerland, Barbara Cilliers from the University of Pretoria and Lauren Mackler from Rhode Island School of Design in the US.

The Pecha Kucha spirit of bite-sized creative sharing spilled over into two events at the Design Indaba Expo, the largest multi-disciplinary showcase of South African creativity to date. Running from 27 February to 1 March in the Cape Town Convention Centre, the Design Indaba Expo played host to more than 29 000 visitors.

Compared to last year's 20 000 visitors, the 2009 Design Indaba Expo indicated significant growth despite the tough economic climate. With more than 90 new exhibitors and 39 emerging creatives included in the 260 exhibitor stand-count, an extra 20% floor space was secured to accommodate the increased interest. Further, more than 360 buyers registered, including 156 international buyers.

The Design Indaba Expo also expanded its scope to include a number of subsidiary projects. Adding to the existing offering of all-day fashion and film shows, the Bowwow Project saw South African designers pimping the Magis puppy, the launch of the Western Cape Design Route now offers tourist access to the expo exhibitors all-year around, and the SOUTH exhibition and film displayed a considered evaluation of the spirit of South African creativity.

Celebrating South Africa's inversion of hand-me-down Eurocentric aesthetics, and applying creativity to real world problems, the SOUTH exhibition and film also included an award. Winner of the R100 000 grand SOUTH prize was Doung Anwar Jahangeer for his Spaza-De-Move-On, a fold-up shop on wheels, conceived to give street hawkers convenience and dignity. In turn, the winner of the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa for 2009 was Michaella Janse van Vuuren for her Chrysanthemum Centrepiece.

"The overwhelming response to Design Indaba this year has renewed our mission to continue pushing for a better world through creativity," said Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo. "Imagination and creativity must meet implementation. We have more work to do — and our projects will now continue the momentum between now and Design Indaba 2010".

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Best of Bowwow winner!

Bowwow WOW! Congratulations to Inhouse Brand Architects: their decorated Magis puppy, Caste-Aside, has been judged top dog in the South African leg of the Bowwow Contest! Own your favourite pup by bidding in the online auction now.
Bowwow is an international competition and exhibition that commissions designers to unleash their imaginations on iconic Magis Puppies. The original Magis Puppy was created for the contemporary Italian design brand by designer Eero Aarnio in 2005, and to date over 60 000 thoroughbred plastic moulded canines have found homes worldwide.

ID Solutions and the Design Indaba Trust selected 50 South Africans with impeccable design pedigrees to participate in the South African leg of the 2009 Bowwow initiative. The command? Groom and coiffure the dogs to showcase South African design spirit to the world.

The dressed up doggies were on show at this year’s Design Indaba. The competition was adjudicated by award-winning French design team, 5.5 designers, highly regarded for their accessible consumption alternatives that transcend the ordinary, while maintaining a sense of humour.

Great news is that you have a chance to own one of these unique showdogs! They are being auctioned online. 50% of the proceeds will go toward bursaries awarded to design students through the Design Indaba Trust, and 50% toward the commissioning of a public sculpture for the Greenpoint Stadium Precinct. See details of how to place your bid below, and hurry, because there’s no time to waste!

Our South African champion, Caste Aside, is now on his way to represent the country in the international Bowwow competition, contested by 32 nations. We are confident that he’ll represent South Africa’s complexity faithfully. According to his creators, Inhouse Brand Architects:

“Our puppy loosely symbolises a coexisting First and Third World environment, almost invisible to each other, yet so interdependent that both worlds support each other creatively, financially and structurally, and are seen by the rest of the world as one.

“The First World is represented as a highly polished, shiny surface without any visual cracks and illustrates Caste-Aside’s tag line, 'Every Dog Has Its Day', in all 11 official languages. The surface is engraved using structural lines representing the South African flag and the boundaries of the nine major provinces.

“The Third World is more obvious and transparent. Made up from a skeletal frame, creatively decorated using local brands’ logos and hand-crafted panels utilising local crafters’ skills, it’s as if a street kid had pieced together his/her own puppy using immediately-available materials.

“Caste Aside’s collar and chain represent the boundaries we place between each world, trying desperately to protect ourselves from each other when, in fact, there’s no need.”

To bid on Caste Aside, or any other Bowwow Puppy that has stolen your heart, hurry to Bidding closes on 31 March 2009. Going… Going…

Monday, February 23, 2009

South, the new north

Stand back Milan, London and New York, here comes SOUTH!
SOUTH is an inversion of hand-me-down Eurocentric creativity, a world map turned upside down conceptually, so that South Africa is on top. Over the past few years Design Indaba has witnessed the organic emergence of a new creative ethos. With South Africa’s diverse, rich heritage as source material, and inspired by the rebirth of the South African nation, definitions that move beyond ethnicity, religion, race or language have emerged.

The SOUTH Exhibition, launching at the Design Indaba Expo from 27 February to 1 March, celebrates 22 legendary creative icons that have been at the pole of this upswing over the past few years. They include ubiquitous items such as the South African flag, Zapiro’s indicting political cartoons, the architecturally distinct Constitutional Court, Stoned Cherrie’s taboo-popping Steve Biko T-shirt, and Kulula and Nando’s national identity forging advertisements. There are more design-specific items too, such as Amanda Laird Cherry’s shweshwe dress suits, Garth Walker's iJusi magazines, Peet Pienaar’s Afro magazine, Haldane Martin’s Zulu Mama Chair and Heath Nash’s recycled plastic Leafball lights. Also on exhibition will be a contingent of conscientious solutions such as the Playpump, the Hippo Roller and the award-winning condom applicator.

The 33 SOUTH award finalists complete the exhibition. These finalists were chosen from the 163 entries from across the country by adjudicator Mike Schalit, creative director of Network BBDO. Schalit was assisted by product designer Tsai, known for his multi-award winning Nested Bunkbeds, and Brian Mtongana, known for his “Googlethu” T-shirt and work on the Design Indaba magazine. Three cash prizes of R100 000, R50 000 and R25 000 will be awarded on Sunday 1 March at 5pm in the fashion area.

The SOUTH documentary, co-produced by Interactive Africa and Miles Goodall of Sub Urban Films, uncovers the layers of inspiration in South African graphic design, art, dance, music, fashion, architecture, craft and product design. Tracking creativity from the bubbling urban streets, through the social challenges and historical perceptions of Africa, to reach a contemporary global vanguard, the film captures the passion, resourcefulness, cultural mash-up and biting humour innate to every South African who sees the world upside down. The SOUTH documentary will show daily at 2pm in the Design Indaba Expo fashion area.

SOUTH is the result of the Creative Alliance, a partnership between Design Indaba, the Creative Circle and the Loerie Awards, underwritten by the SABC.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Most Beautiful Object in SA finalists

Ladies and Gentlemen, no designer is an island! Nowhere is this more evident than in the entries received, year on year, in Design Indaba’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) contest. Great ideas meet visual poetry with aesthetic conventions subverted in ways that are glorious and ingenious, while contestants challenge each other to come up with ever-greater concepts.
Last year’s winner was Tsai Design’s Nested Bunk Bed, an amazing set of stacking beds that solves the difficulties of organised sleeping arrangements in a confined space, while freeing up space when not in use.

This year, MBOISA is once again judging objects according to a variety of criteria resonant with the 21st century, including aesthetic appeal, social significance, sustainability, economic impact, lifestyle appeal, entertainment and cultural flavour.

Judging beauty in a place as diverse as contemporary South Africa is complicated. In a country influenced profoundly by collisions of culture, whose aesthetics come into play?

We’d like you, the public, to help us with the decision. What, to you, is the essence of a truly “beautiful object”? Does it lie in luxury, ingenuity, making life simpler, in economy or entertainment? Your vote counts! Come along to Design Indaba Expo to view the shortlisted creations in the flesh and help judge the beauty contest, simply by sending an SMS.

And now, without further ado, it gives us great pleasure to announce that the gorgeous contestants in the running to be crowned Most Beautiful Object In South Africa are…

  1. Piece: Art and Justice: The Art of the Constitutional Court of South Africa
    By: David Krut Publishing
    (Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, Ben Law-Viljoen, Ellen Papciak-Rose)

  3. Piece: Chrysanthemum Centrepiece
    By: Nomili (
    Michaella Janse van Vuuren)

  4. Piece: Ribbon Plate
    By: Kendal Warren Ceramics (Kendal Warren)

  5. Pretty Filly BenchBy: Koop Design (Richard Stretton)

  6. Piece: Chaos Bench
    By: Greymeta Design (William Morafo)

  7. Piece: Suikerbossie
    By: Lady Peculiar (Louise van Graan & Truda Serfontein)

  8. Piece: Café of Good Times
    By: Frieda Lühl Jewellery (Frieda Lühl)

  9. Piece: Sir Bugs
    By: Milk & Cookies (Geraldine Fenn)

  10. Piece: Green-T-4-1
    By: African Queen Studio (Lorraine Piers)

    Piece: Thorn Carpet
    By: Ronel Jordaan

  12. Piece: Mike Stroud (Crips-Ratatat)
    By: Milk & Cookies (Jaco Haasbroek)

  13. Piece: Pure Lemon Juice
    By: So Gourmet (
    Francois Te Water Naudé)

  14. Piece: Miss Beautiful: South Africa in Pageants
    By: Day One Publishing (Stephan le Roux, Stan Engelbrecht, Tamsen de Beer, Michelle Son)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Green and envied!

Savvy designers have recognised the need to lessen their impact on the natural environment’s finite resources. Wasteful, disposable excess is out and more grounded, durable luxury is in. Designers are working with recycled and renewable materials towards eco-friendly and sustainable wares, and built-in energy efficiencies have improved with technological advances. A product might cost a little more upfront, but with innovative approaches to materials and design, it will be of a higher quality and should last far longer.
The trend towards environmentally responsible design is well represented at Design Indaba Expo 2009. Among others, check out Koop’s furniture range crafted out of alien vegetation by Richard Stretton. Chic recycling also distinguishes Drift’s range of furniture made from shipping crates and railway sleepers.

Of course, more than buying new, its important to extend the lifespan of products. A decided showstopper last year, Casamento will again be showing their ingenious use of off-cuts to re-upholster second-hand couches and chairs. Another hit from last year, GIVE-IT-BAG return with their gorgeous shopping bags made from recycled food transport sacks, as well as a number of new styles.

Also continuing its line of clothing with a conscience is Fundudzi. Designer Craig Jacob uses only organic bamboo, cotton and wool, with hemp silk for embellishment and adaptable designs that encourage multiple uses for single garments. Top it off with a piece of jewellery by Skermunkil, who repurposes antique cutlery and found objects.

Economic empowerment and social sustainability are key words for many Design Indaba Expo exhibitors, including collaborative craft groups such as Woo-Men, Design Afrika, Shumba Inc, ISUNA, Nuno, Phumani Paper, Iziko lo Lwazi, Hillcrest Aids Centre, Monkeybiz and Projekt.

House and Leisure magazine and Woolworths are showcasing the 10 finalists in the House and Leisure Green Designers at Woolworths competition. Running since August 2008, the competition promotes environmentally friendly, upmarket homeware design by students at the best tertiary design institutions around the country. Work featured will go into production for sale at selected Woolworths stores.

Click here to view the complete fashion and film programme.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

High five! Design Indaba Conference is sold out. Again. For the fifth year running. What can we say?
“It’s gratifying to see that businesses realise that it will take innovation and creativity to navigate through a tougher economic climate,” says Ravi Naidoo, Design Indaba founder and CEO. “Now more than ever, the world needs creative solutions. There’s never a bad time for a good idea.”

In light of the continued demand for tickets, Design Indaba is lifting the age restriction on the Young Designers Simulcast. For the reduced price of R1200 delegates older than 25 can enjoy this simulcast of the foremost creative event in the country. The simulcast is a live broadcast, from the main plenary session to a second auditorium.

Besides the speakers who have already been announced, Design Indaba is also pleased to add Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of Innocentive Inc to the line-up, as well as leading commercials director Keith Rose. Further, a combined presentation on the best South African animation includes Craig Wessels from Wicked Pixels, Roger Smythe from Masters&Savant and Jannes Hendrikz from the Blackheart Gang.

For a glimpse into what the future of design will look like, Design Indaba has curated a programme of the best design graduates from the Royal College of Art in London, Design Academy Eindhoven, ECAL University of Art and Design in Lausanne, Rhode Island School of Design, University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria.

Click here to register.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Design Indaba Expo: New Leaves, Every Year

Design Indaba Expo showcases the best South African creativity under one roof, don’t miss the 60 first-time exhibitors showcasing the freshest design trends and innovative ways to change the world.
Get acquainted with furniture by greymeta and Aram Lello, sample So!Go’s delectable food condiments and ruminate on Chew magazine, an online publication. NOMILI’s 3D rapid prototypes flirt with the art or design distinction, while photographers Clinton Friedman and Ed Suter show their diverse applications. Not to mention the designs of Milk&Cookies and ilovestencil, which is sure to steal a heart or two.

Want to make a statement? Get your head into a Makoya Makaraba to stand out in any soccer throng or if you prefer to hit the streets, deck yourself out in Butan Wear. Accessorise with Gypsey Lou, Chimpel, Township Patterns and Mongoose, or step into a pair of Bennett & Co shoes.

A strong furniture contingent is lead up by Misael’s limited-edition exclusive objects by the likes Leora Lewis, Rebecca Townsend, Heath Nash, Lyall Sprong, Bronze Age, Walter Oltmann, Joe Mapfuno, Mickael Kra and Andile Dyalvane. Best known as Top Billing’s handyman, Aidan Bennetts will be showing his own range of contemporary furniture. And Sally Arnold’s bold custom-tufted rugs and soft furnishings are sure to catch your attention. The finalists for the Western cape Furniture Competition will also be on display.

Also keep an eye out for brand new products and ranges from returning exhibitors such as Heath Nash, Imiso Ceramics, Tsai Design Studio, Zenzulu, Haldane Martin, Cornelius Lemmer, Ideso, Woodheads, Dry Furniture’s cool new kids’ range and, of course, Stoned Cherrie’s 2009 Winter range, hot off the New York Fashion Week catwalk.

Get a taste of the future of South African design through the Emerging Creatives platform, sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture. Showcasing 40 of the country’s freshest young designers, this is a trendspotter’s delight. Over the years, the likes of Vuyisa Potina, Christel Stipp, Daniel Ting Chong and Anja Venter all launched their careers here.

Click here to view the complete fashion and film programme.

Fashion bends the fold at Design Indaba 2009

South African fashion designers are at the forefront of the local consumer revolution demanding relevant, fabulous South African design. Local fashion designers represent an ethical vanguard, selling a socially aware identity to its patrons, promoting sustainable local production, defining a national identity that begs the cliché and inviting international interaction without losing its distinction.
Celebrating the embedded story and grander message, the Fashion Arena at the Design Indaba Expo 2009 will again go beyond glossy pages, pouty models and the oh-so-passé catwalk. Presented by the SABC, this dedicated arena will host all-day fashion shows, a film festival, Liquid Chefs cocktail bar and lounges, Pecha Kucha presentations at the end of the day, and a fashion boutique. Visitors to the Design Indaba Expo will pay R50 for unlimited access to the fashion and main floor.
Hot off the New York Fashion Week runway, is Design Indaba stalwart Stoned Cherrie with her Winter 2009 Collection – a hearty celebration of iconic South Africa and all the things we love about our past, present and future. With its luxurious wools, designer jacquards, embellished necklines, flirty silhouettes, nostalgic sophistication and print leather clutches, it is a proud affirmation of Stoned Cherrie’s nine-year long journey of exploration and discovery.
Other stalwarts, Hip Hop Factory and Afro Diva will be putting their renowned touch of sjoe-wow to leisure and evening wear for the modern women, while the Karin Monk Klijnstra collection is a cross-pollination of urban wasteland, recyclable fabrics, interesting textures and futuristic, psychedelic colours.
Also continuing its line of clothing with a conscience is Fundudzi. Designer Craig Jacob uses only organic bamboo, cotton and wool, with hemp silk for embellishment and adaptable designs that encourage multiple uses for single garments.
The other Craig, Craig Native promises a collection that will show just why his brand has been called the “Che Guevara of SA fashion”. Also making a sly wink at the naughty, the new Undacova collection of funky underwear for men promotes “responsible hedonism”. Set to subsequently re-silhouette the androgynous hipster, Stiaan Louw’s collection promises to delve into male iconography, reflecting on the somewhat elusive, constantly shifting contemporary sexuality.

In turn, Sandhya Lalloo’s SIN will ask women to break free and indulge, while Soulchild Closet fosters a woman’s need to discover their inner child and reveal their soul. Also inspiring one’s inner kid, Sway Textiles will be showcasing their easy-to-wear lightweight garments and thrilling colour prints.
Hinged on the magic of nostalgia, the I Love Leroy collection captures the essence of the vast landscapes of the Karoo and Northern Cape. Timeless elegance is also the order of the day for Carducci Women by Francois Rall who has created a finely tailored collection crafted from 100% South African Lightweight Wool.
To ensure continued relevancy and international marketability, Design Indaba Expo has also arranged a free seminar with Li Edelkoort, for Design Indaba Expo exhibitors only.
Edelkoort will also address the Design Indaba Conference, along with the other fashion superhero on the programme, Dai Fujiwara, creative director of Issey Miyake. Fujiwara’s proprietary software-driven design process represents a whole new creative, technological and ecological rapid prototyping proposition to the fashion industry.

Click here to view the complete fashion and film programme.