To launch Joburg’s inner-city festival coming up in August, the Joburg City Tourism Association threw a three-day party for 60 journalists. I was lucky enough to be on that list and to spend the weekend hanging out at some of the coolest places…. Friday night in Joburg city centre and what could have been a regular few blocks walk between Market and Loveday Streets on a chill Autumn night turned into something extraordinary. On the pavement outside the impressive Edwardian-style entrance to the Rand Club, the city’s grandest landmark, thirty four members of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra were arrayed, flash-mob style – playing classical and popular pieces. Continue reading
Sunday morning in Maboneng – Joburg’s hipster haven on the east side of the city. Urban regeneration comes in the form of a peanut, banana, date and soya milk smoothie. Maboneng has arrived. What could have been a fantasy is now a high-priced and much in demand reality.
And outside Uncle Merv’s shake shack our little crew is getting bigger. It could be the start of a joke… One editor, one photographer, one blogger and two tour guides meet over a smoothie to wait for Rasty…
Like all true love stories this one has moments of exhilaration, and of defeat. In pursuit of a romantic ideal one must be prepared as much for pure joy as for its opposite.
Along Bezuidenhout street, where it meets Viljoen in the park below Troyeville ridge is a bed. Its plush studded headboard is the stuff that Joburg migrant dreams are made of, Beares catalogues and lay-byes. Its pillows have the texture of velvet and on it lays a duvet, creased as if the bed’s occupants had just arisen from their slumber.
The bed is inviting.
On the morning I visit two birds are using the folds of the duvet as a birdbath. The park is green, the bed resting in peaceful shade.
Nothing to do but punt the app (available for all your Apple and Android devices so download it now) created for Gauteng Tourism by the uber-talented super smart, and my most favourite, T-Shirt designer Bradley Kirshenbaum of Love Jozi (and co-creator of one of the city’s other best inventions market on main). Yesterday on the auspicious date of 11/11/11 I got my chance to put my home town Benoni (also the inspiration for this blog) back on the tourist map. For everyone else who is “Straight out of Benoni” this one’s for you.
Coinciding with the Joburg Art Fair last week was an exhibition curated by Adam Levin of Imagine Nation (the global homeware store based at 44 Stanley Ave) that brought together 30 leading designers from 15 African countries. It’s part of a 36-month funded programme (Thank you Denmark) aimed at establishing “authentic interaction between design companies from throughout the continent who produce beautiful, contemporary work”, Continue reading
I love this story vase – part of a collection created and beaded by a group of women in rural Kwazulu Natal, part of the Siyazama Project, in collaboration with Swedish design collective Front. Their work is currently being shown at the prestigious Milan Furniture Fair. The full story is from Design Indaba news.
As Mexico’s drug war has escalated so has the number of deadly weapons. Pedro Reyes wanted to do something about it. He came up with a campaign that involved creating a series of TV spots in the “shape of a soap opera” entreating the audience to bring a gun to city hall in exchange for a coupon you could trade for a microwave or other household appliances. It broke the record for the voluntary donation of arms with 1527 guns handed in. They were taken to a factory and melted down and fabricated into 1527 shovels. There was “not a big design improvement” is typical of Reyes’ understatement. Just a change in source material – “from an agent of death to an agent of life” as the shovels were handed over to schools and used to plant trees. Continue reading
Day 2 of the Design Indaba and I am a believer. All critical distance (well most of it) has been removed and I feel myself edging closer to groupie-dom. If I was to be a groupie on this day these are three people I would groupie around:
Eastern Cape designer Laduma Ngxokolo, a graduate of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, who, among a global group of emerging young talent, made that Pecha Kucha format his own. Following that quick format here’s my cut-to-the-chase version.
As part of the ritual of becoming a man young Xhosa circumcision initiates have to kit themselves out in a new wardrobe (all clothing worn before this stage is destroyed – I think, or removed at least, I hope)
After they return their parents like to buy them “high quality men’s knitwear” from international brands like Pringle as even circumcision initiates are highly influenced by global urban style.
Ngxokolo saw the gap. Continue reading
As is my mood I go from feeling like the poor relation to being smug about my tiny teeny carbon footprint. And when I am not feeling envious of all those who are in Cape Town for the event I start loving the idea of being at the Design Indaba Joburg simulcast – all of 10 minutes from home – at the University of Johannesburg.
Yesterday was day one of what has been billed as 72 hours of creativity. It wasn’t as much of a BIG NAME IN LIGHTS all-star line-up as I had hoped for and it was more portfolio than big ideas about design and the future but the speakers made for an interesting mix: from American graphic designer Dana Arnett [Harley-Davidson and IBM] whose amusing video about the designer and their client – “Can you make that logo a hair bigger? … My logos are not to be read. They are to be communed with” Continue reading