Arts and Culture

Leaders of the creative pack

Staff Reporter

Creativity is the key with a wide range of speakers set to light up the Design Indaba Conference.

On track for 17 years with its mission to promote creativity as a means to fuelling social change, the Design Indaba strives to bring the foremost contemporary thought leaders to South Africa each year.

After a stringent, year-long curatorial process, this year’s Design Indaba Conference looks set to prove once again why it has earned its reputation as Africa’s premier design event.

The back-to-back speaker programme brings together a cast of more than 30 leading creative thinkers from as far as Norway, as wide as the United States, as diverse as Venezuela and as topical as India. Featuring a wide range of designers, artists, social entrepreneurs, advertising gurus, filmmakers, culinary masters and even a scent expert, design for a better
future will be abuzz on ­everybody’s lips.

We have tickets to the Design Indaba Simulcast to give away. See the competition page for details.

Here is a selection of programme highlights.


  • Cape Town-based Porky Hefer works on conceptual precepts that manifest in 3D forms in a variety of executions, from public sculptures to product and furniture design. He works at Porky Hefer Design where he strives to produce work that elicits a smile and sticks in your head. Locally, Hefer has gained notoriety for his recent work on strip club Mavericks’s controversial “Alibis” campaign and for designing the giant Coca-Cola Crate Man erected from 2 500 Coca-Cola crates in Cape Town and Johannesburg for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

  • Music video director Chris Milk and Google Creative Lab’s data arts team leader, Aaron Koblin, are both highly successful individuals in their own right ­—and when they collaborate, the outcome is never short of radically ground-breaking. Together they worked on The Wilderness Downtown, the unprecedented Arcade Fire music video that used Google Street Maps to give viewers an engaging, personalised experience and veritable trip down memory lane.
    Other noteworthy ­collaborations include interactive music videos The Johnny Cash ­Project and 3 Dreams of Black. This pair is pioneering a new path for digital media.

  • The founder and head chef of Noma restaurant in Copenhagen, René Redzepi, has reinvented the Nordic kitchen. His contribution to gastronomy has positioned him as one of the most influential and quoted people working on the international food scene today. Redzepi is a chef and skilled craftsman who takes a whole-system approach to food. Since opening Noma in August 2003, the restaurant has gone from 15th position on Restaurant magazine’s world’s 50 best in 2007 to first place in 2010 and 2011, along with two Michelin stars.

  • Another South African star on the line-up, Clive van Heerden, is the director of design-led innovation at Philips Design. Here he works primarily in driving the “Probes” programme, which consists of “far-future” research initiatives aimed at identifying long-term systemic shifts and anticipating changes in future lifestyles. At Philips, Van Heerden has co-ordinated experts from various textile and apparel disciplines to develop wearable electronic and conductive ­textile solutions. Under his leadership the Probes team has won numerous international awards, including a Time magazine acknowledgement for best invention in 2007.

  • Scent expert Sissel Tolaas hails from Norway but is based in ­Berlin. Here she explores how ­different smells can be described, how smells are remembered and measured, how the information in smells can be used and how abstract smell molecules can be employed to convey a specific learned meaning. Dubbing herself a “professional in-betweener”, Tolaas has been working at the intersection of smell and language since 1990. She essentially uses various aspects of science, art and design to research and ­create works that relate to the human experience of smell.

  • Architect Bjarke Ingels started BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group, in 2006 in Denmark after co-founding PLOT Architects in 2001 and working at OMA in Rotterdam. Through a series of award-winning design projects and buildings, Ingels has created an international reputation as a member of a new generation of architects who combine shrewd analysis, playful experimentation, social responsibility and humour.

    Recently, Ingels was rated one of the 100 most creative people in ­business by New York-based Fast Company magazine and named Wall Street Journal‘s architectural innovator of 2011.

  • Named after the creativity gene, FoxP2 is an independent agency founded by Justin Gomes and Andrew Whitehouse in Cape Town in 2005. Within six months the agency won a Cannes Lion and it has continued in this fashion ever since. Last year FoxP2 finished first at the Loeries, the Clios and the ­Creative Circle ad of the year and won television awards at both Cannes and D&AD. The company has most recently spread its wings through the creation of several specialist agencies, including a local ­public relations company and a sister agency in New York.

  • South African architect Heinrich Wolff formed Noero Wolff Architects, together with Jo Noero, in 1998. The duo’s work has since been exhibited twice at both the Venice and São Paulo biennales and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Many of Wolff’s projects have been awarded local and international honours, with the most significant being the Lubetkin prize from the Royal Institute of British Architects for the best building outside the European Union in 2005-2006. In 2007 Wolff was awarded the prestigious DaimlerChrysler award for South African architecture.

    The Design Indaba Conference 2012 will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from February 29 to March 2, from 9am to 5pm each day.

    Tickets are available through designindaba.com

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