/ 11 May 2007

Beauty pageant of design

The term ‘design” is so innocuously and loosely used by founders of the Design Indaba that you’d be excused for thinking the event was a glorified conference for graphic designers and lay-out geeks. But, like me, you’d be wrong. The Design Indaba involves the whole gamut of the creative industries, from advertising to fashion, new media, publishing, film, art, architecture and industrial design.

The indaba, through its conference and expo, has the lofty aim of inspiring and promoting South Africa’s creative industries to greater heights and profitability. In doing so, it has attracted serious government and corporate sponsors such as the departments of arts and culture and trade and industry, Absa, Woolworths, SAA and the SABC.

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference and expo include acclaimed British musician, producer and artistic collaborator Brian Eno, United Kingdom designer Jasper Morisson, famous locals such as Jonathan Shapiro and lesser-known locals such as Keith Helfet, a designer for Jaguar Cars.

The centrepiece of the Design Indaba Expo is a Beautiful Objects exhibition, a veritable beauty pageant of design. Sixteen of the most beautiful objects created in South Africa, ranging from a condom applicator to a chandelier, have been chosen by a panel of diverse curators.

An interesting piece of design philanthropy on show is a modular storage solution called New Slant. Designed by Haldane Martin and created by a disabled group associated with the NGO Care Craft, the project represents a shift in global practice as the copyright is retained by the Care Craft group rather than the designer.

Possibly the most powerful innovation on display is the FabLab, an open-source-based advanced manufacturing platform that gives designers a range of off-the-shelf, industrial-grade fabrication and electronics tools they can use to test their designs before taking them to market.

There will also be movies, performance art and fashion shows. The aim is simple: spark the high-level economic impact of popularising South Africa’s creative economy.

The Design Indaba takes place from February 21 to 25 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. For more info visit www.designindaba.com

Not to be missed

  • Gregor Jenkin’s much-awaited new furniture collection, Infrastructure.
  • Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings at the Michaelis Gallery in Cape Town.
  • The ZenKaya mobile house solution.
  • XYZ design’s condom applicator, which is currently displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.