Attend the Design Indaba in Johannesburg

Get excited about this year’s Design Indaba as Cape Town’s premier event will be in Joburg next week. With the main conference sold out in CT the organisers have come up with simulcast events in both cities. I am planning to attend DI2011: A Better World Through Creativity, at the Arts Centre Theatre of the University of Johannesburg, Kingsway Campus, for the three-day programme starting Wednesday next week.

I have been to the Design Indaba Expo a few times and last attended Design Indaba on its 10th anniversary in 2007. Then I was watching a presentation on Germany’s World Cup Fan Fests and trying to imagine what World Cup 2010 would be like. Done that!

I am a huge fan of this event that brings together an incredible array of creative minds to share their experiences and inspiring works. It’s the South African equivalent of TED, just a whole lot more stylish. In 2007 my favourite presenters included Professor Neil Gershenfeld, Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (just the name of that centre would have been enough) who spoke about small-scale project centres that enabled people from severely un-advantaged communities to take part in creating technology and not just consuming it. It was brought together under the idea of “personalising fabrication”  – that if you give ordinary people access to modern means of invention – a lab – you get extraordinary things. Continue reading

A tour of Park Station, a Joburg landmark

Take a walk around Park Station and its surrounds with the Heritage Trust [planned for Saturday, February 19]. This is one I will be sorry to miss (I have a weekend out of town planned). The first time I ever went to Park Station it was by train from Benoni and I was about 14 years old and addicted to the hippie chic of the Market Theatre Flea Market which used to be the best way to spend time and pocket money in the [early, ouch] 1980s. Then it sprawled across the parking lot that is now Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown, and was filled with all sorts of treasures and delights [admittedly looking back it was more like knick-knacks and tat]. Continue reading

Public art in Joburg/the world comes to Sandton

Marcus Neustetter's "Erosion"

Go to Sandton Square for the Public Art around the World exhibition. On Tuesday night on a corner of Sandton – called Burghers Walk – I was last at during the height of World Cup fever I witnessed an extraordinary performance by Marcus Neustetter. Titled “Erosion” it involved thousands of brilliantly-lit neon glowsticks being thrown down a stairway in the darkness by a troupe of performers dressed in workman’s overalls who then proceeded to sweep up every last brilliant piece of light, bundling them back into trashcans to be carried off. A comment on the fragility and impermanence of the world of imagination and dreams, Continue reading

Braamfontein’s 70 Juta Street and Pieter Hugo

Protea wallpaper

Protea wallpaper

#216. Saturday morning in brilliant sunshine we took a walk along the hip stretch of Juta Street in Braamfontein. Braamfontein’s re-imagining is more than talk and the colourful little complex of stores and offices on 70 Juta Street bears this out [It officially opened last weekend]. We started off at POST for their homemade lemonade and a tasty snack-sized prego roll. With its glass front POST is a perfect spot to sip something while observing street life (in this city of malls and walls that’s a luxury). Continue reading

Shop local with missibaba

#214. Covet beautiful handmade goods from Cape Town handbag label Missibaba. On a trip to Cape Town sometime last year I made a point of tracking down the Missibaba studio – a treasure trove for handbag fetishists. In a world of factory made goods where quality and craft has long been replaced I was seduced by the clutter of ideas, materials and colour and real stitchwork taking place. Now their range is available online through Shop-Label, Cape Town’s answer to Net-A-Porter (the site that puts hot couture in the post). My favourite item right now is the Safari Possum Bag. Very pretty indeed.

Apple iPhone4 – here today, jewellery tomorrow

#212. With Apple’s iPhone4 just released locally and Moore’s Law showing no signs of leniency our world is increasingly being filled up with piles of techno-junk. As an early adopter of all things new when it comes to technology,  I have now found a way to offset the environmental hazards of my habit. His name is Kevin Friedman, from Frankli Wild Studio in Norwood and he loves Apple Macs, so much so that given the opportunity he will solder, shape, beat and fashion them into something for you or your wall to wear.

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Guerilla knitting on Jan Smuts Avenue

Peace sign on Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood

Peace sign on Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood

#211 Wonder who knitted the peace signs on Jan Smuts Avenue. They’re gorgeous. The signs appeared shortly after the World Cup ended, wrapped around the trees on both sides of Jan Smuts Avenue somewhere between the Zoo Lake and the Goethe Institute (whose new wall-less exterior and re-imagined entrance does the building justice). Appropriate exhortations in a few official languages hand-made in pretty colours.This city is all about the unexpected. Continue reading

Hotel Yeoville, a digital space to call home

#202 Check in to Hotel Yeoville. I spent Saturday morning at Hotel Yeoville, one of the most exciting interactive exhibitions I have seen. Hotel Yeoville is the brainchild of photographer and artist Terry Kurgan who has for the past three years championed this project to as she puts it to “make the invisible community visible”. Its aim is to create a social map of the migrant or immigrant experience of Johannesburg – to track the experiences of those who have travelled from all over and now call Joburg home. Ironically home is not always a refuge – and the exhibition uses popular social media technologies to create safe spaces in which the complex emotions people have about home can be articulated and shared.

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“Space” opens at Museum Africa

# 201 Prove me wrong. I spent the evening at the opening of Space: Currencies in Contemporary African Art – Joburg’s big exhibition for 2010, at Museum Africa in Newtown. An exhibition with many weighty and connected sponsors, an exhibition for a world class African city. I have hesitated while writing this. I have thought of backtracking, of just being quiet. Continue reading

Braamfontein is Joburg’s Soho

194#. Read the New York Times on Braamfontein. The paper of record has called it. Braamfontein is Joburg’s version of New York’s Soho. It has urban edge, lots of design and artistic talent, and a property developer with a real eye for the city’s future. Personally I have always been fond of that neighbourhood, from student days in the early 1990s when I would spend most of my cash (and there wasn’t much of it) at the bookshop on the corner where the Braamfontein Centre now stands (looking back it was literature of the revolution – lots of Fanon, Cabral, Biko. Okay admittedly those were books that real revolutionaries would steal so this is a revealing moment) to cheap and tasty lunches at the Health Scene and a great little Italian joint whose name I don’t recall but whose veal limone I do. Continue reading