Every year on August 9, South Africa celebrates Women’s Day. The national holiday commemorates one of the most poignant displays of strength and solidarity from South African women: the 1956 march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria during which approximately 20 000 women protested against the country’s racist ‘dompas’ laws.
Today, women around the world are embracing their hard-won freedom in a myriad of ways – and many are using this liberty to embrace their creativity, using it to further social causes, explore their own identities, and inspire women around the world to fearlessly pursue their destinies.
Take a look at some of the extraordinary women who have spoken at the Design Indaba Conference over the years.
Hailing from Cairo, Egypt, fashion designer Amna Elshandaweely’s vibrant and dynamic garments combine a modern aesthetic with cultural, historical and architectural elements.
Each of her collections is motivated by a specific social or political issue – including gender discrimination, something the young creative is incredibly passionate about. At the 2018 Design Indaba Conference, Elshandaweely – instead of delivering a typical talk – used her time on stage to unveil a new collection called ‘Cairo Punk’, which, like her other collections, aims to unpack important issues, including African identity and colourism.
An award-winning Italian information designer and artist, Giorgia Lupi creates engaging visual narratives that are able to effectively communicate dense and rich data-driven stories. Her work posits the notion that data does not just need to be read as numbers and pie charts, and suggests that such information can be creatively visualised and even felt.
As a speaker at the 2017 Design Indaba Conference, Lupi was joined by American guitarist and composer, Kaki King, and the two women unveiled a collaboration that saw them take the audience on a unique visual and auditory journey. As the musician plays notes on the guitar and moves her fingers, Lupi’s intricate drawings meticulously and beautifully displayed Kaki’s melody visually.
You can watch Lupi and King's speaker talk here.
One of the world’s most influential chef’s, Elena Arzak hails from San Sebastián in the Basque country, an autonomous community of Spain. She began her journey working in her family’s restaurant as a young girl. Today she is head chef of three Michelin starred restaurant Arzak, alongside her father, Juan Mari Arzak.
In 2012 she was named best Female Chef in the World.
In 2016, Arzak spoke at the Design Indaba Conference, and there she shared how the classic cuisine of the Basque region has influenced her exciting reinterpretation of traditional dishes. A pioneer in the culinary world, her combining of modern gastronomy techniques with methods and flavours that have been around for generations has cemented her standing as one of the world’s most important chefs.
You can watch Arzak's speaker talk here.
The Kenyan artist and animator behind the critically acclaimed short film Yellow Fever, Ng’endo Mukii creates beautiful animations for film that address pertinent issues – including the heritage of colonial oppression she still sees playing out in Kenya.
A graduate of Royal College of Art and Rhode Island School of Design, her body of works spans advertising campaigns, documentary animation and experimental films.
Speaking at the Design Indaba Conference in 2015, she explained how she was attempting to use animation to counter the one dimensional representation of indigenous people. Since then, she’s gone on to found her own production company, Ng'endo Studios, where she continues to push the boundaries in animation and film.
The author of Moxyland, Zoo City, and The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s most celebrated novelists. She is the winner of the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award and the 2010 Kitschies Red Tentacle for best novel.
Her work has also been shortlisted for numerous prestigious prizes, including the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the Nielsen's Booksellers' Choice Award, and the University of Johannesburg Creative Writing Prize.
At the 2014 Design Indaba Conference, Beukes used the power of storytelling to take the audience on a journey through her personal history and experiences of some of the tough issues our society faces. A writer who is pushing for the dismantling of the status quo and standing for the importance of empathy, Beukes’ imaginative fiction is leading the way for a new generation of female authors.
See more of the incredible creative women who have graced the Design Indaba stage over the years.