Out the box

Thinking outside the cardboard box, Xanita highlighted the creative possibilities of their fibre board at Design Indaba Expo and Conference.

If you ever wanted to see thinking outside the (cardboard) box, you just had to take a look at how Design Indaba 2012 supplier Xanita employed their next-generation recycled and repulpable composite fibre boards at Design Indaba Conference and Expo.

Xanita went far beyond the pale, conceptualising banners, signage, tables, chairs and more to complement the look and feel of the official Design Indaba 2012 campaign.

So much more than just cardboard, the inside core of all Xanita boards are free of virgin-tree fibres, with their manufacturing process prioritising upcycled cellulose fibre from cardboard and bagasse water, for cradle-to-cradle design requirements.

Xanita creative director, Mike McElwee, answered a few questions about their involvement with Design Indaba.

How did Xanita go about interpreting the Design Indaba 2012 campaign?

The Design Indaba 2012 campaign message made it simple ("I am not a designer"). If you’re not going to be a conference, we’re not going to be a board/product manufacturer -  we’ll be the ideas facilitator.

Why/how did you decide on the look and feel?

For the items that related specifically to the 2012 Design Indaba campaign it was a joint creative effort between xanita, Design Indaba and The Jupiter Drawing Room Cape Town. The process was an exploration of seemingly radical ideas and trying to marry them to the very real reality of actually producing the items in a very limited time, without compromising their flair. It’s Design Indaba after all. I personally enjoy these processes the most. You can see the finished product right from the beginning but you have no idea how it’s going to make its way into the real world. Throw a bit of time pressure on top and you have yourself an exciting challenge.

For the remaining items it’s all about displaying the massive potential of our products for designers through design. Creating a launch pad for designers to continue on from what we have shown you. Our aim was to achieve an unsaid message of “now teach us about what our products are REALLY capable of.”    

Can you tell us more about what's happening to the products post-event?

Our tables from the food zone section at Design Indaba Expo found their way to a better life at the District Six Museum School. As for the rest of it, if they cannot be used again and/or donated to a good cause, it is off to the recycling bin. Our products slot directly into the long-established paper recycling stream. Given that our new boards are made from 97% recycled material, the Design Indaba 2012 units may very well be seen again at the 2013 Expo in a new spectacular design.

Can you please tell us about your creative inspiration for the products you created?

If Design Indaba says "I’m not a designer", well then that’s brilliant because “this is not just a board”.

What was the reaction like to the Xanita products at Design Indaba?

When you live this product every day you forget how amazing it is to see it for the very first time. Those “first time” reactions are priceless, you can literally see the different ideas and possibilities forming behind the eyes of everyone, whether they consider themselves creative or not. It’s even better when you see long-time customers realise that there is so much more that can be done by embracing design. The response has been really good. It is very interesting to note the range of different enquiries coming in, and the fact that people are asking all the right questions when it comes to the environmentally friendly aspects of the products. Really great to see the heightened awareness of the need for more of these kinds of solutions.