Design Indaba was saddened to learn of the passing of Dezeen founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs on 30 June 2022. Fairs was a regular at Design Indaba's conferences and an incredible supporter of African design, as well as a media partner of Design Indaba. Dezeen was founded in Fairs' spare room in 2006 and has grown to become one of the world's most influential architecture and design websites.
In 2018, Dezeen launched the Dezeen Awards. Fairs encouraged African designers to enter the global competition, and countless South African designers received international attention featured on its “pages”.
He was the first digital journalist awarded the prestigious Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2017. This coveted award recognised his outstanding contributions to the field of architecture.
"He has changed the landscape of design journalism, bringing the global design community closer together, and helping to inspire and launch the careers of countless architects and designers around the world," according to Dezeen.
Born 27 November 1967, in Canada, Fairs shaped his journalism career in England, which he made his home. A 3D design graduate, he began his journalism career writing for architecture title Building Design and later for Building. He quickly rose through the ranks to become deputy editor. In 2003, he founded Icon, the international architecture and design magazine, which he edited until November 2006.
This gave him the experience he needed to set out on his own, and from his spare bedroom, he built Dezeen into the design website it is today. In 2006, he published Twenty-First Century Design, and in 2009, Green Design. The Dezeen Book of Ideas and the Dezeen Book of Interviews are products of Fairs' creative vision.
In 2007, Rupinder Bhogal joined him at Dezeen, forming Dezeen Limited. In 2008, they launched the recruitment site, Dezeen Jobs. In 2010, they introduced the Dezeen Watch Store.
The design community around the world has paid tribute to Fairs. Designer Tom Dixon said, "Always with his ears to the ground, with a good nose, great taste, a precise voice, wide-open eyes, and a massive brain and huge heart, he was always present. We are left with a massive Marcus-shaped hole in our design universe shaped by Marcus."
Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo also expressed shock at the loss. "I've lost a friend, collaborator, confidant, conspirator and supporter... I've known Marcus for just short of two decades, and we've been in a mutual support society of our own since, and I will miss him desperately.
"I've been talking to our mutual friends over the last few days. We are all in a state of shock – but we all want to contribute to honouring and celebrating Marcus' life and his Herculean contribution to design, culture, journalism and all our lives. His memory and impact will live on with all of us."