SA design at Milan 2011

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.

Story vase in beads and glass by Siyazama and Front

Design Indaba Day 3: Pedro Reyes, Oded Ezer and Google’s Robert Wong

Brokenhearted that it’s all over… a last fix from Design Indaba 2011. And the highlights of the last day were …
Pass the envelope please

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

Design Indaba Day 2: Laduma Ngxokolo, Kiran Bir Sethi and Alberto Alessi

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:

Knitwear designed by Laduma Ngxokolo

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

Design Indaba 2011, Day 1 and a half

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

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