Design Indaba 2006 Retrospective

Each year the Design Indaba event gains even more impetus, assembling some of the world's most pioneering and perceptive creative minds.

Each year the Design Indaba event gains even more impetus, assembling some of the world's most pioneering and perceptive creative minds.

The Design Indaba Conference provides a platform for the exchange of ideas and insights and the Design Indaba Expo presents a marketplace for South Africa's top design talent.

This year, the award-winning Design Indaba Conference hosted a record 2 100 delegates and 55 local and international speakers over 3 days - it has established itself as the most significant creative event in the southern hemisphere and has notched up another achievement by becoming the first known carbon-neutral conference in South Africa.

The Design Indaba and partners, in an undertaking known as the Carbon Standard, will calculate the carbon generated by the event and then plant trees to offset it. Conference-generated emissions are based on participants' long-term and local travel as well as inputs such as local accommodation and the conference venue. Planting trees will reduce the environmental impact of the conference and allow organisers to offset greenhouse gases.

The Carbon Standard is a collaboration between the Design Indaba organiser Interactive Africa, leading law firm Edward Nathan, accounting giant Price Waterhouse Coopers, award-winning NGO Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA), Toyota South Africa and petroleum producer BP, ranked among the "greenest" companies in the world.

This year, the Young Designers Simulcast was introduced at the conference for emerging designers, design students and other young people under the age of 25 years across all creative fields. This entailed a live broadcast of the 3-day conference to a nearby auditorium at the CTICC. Excited about sharing ideas, DI speakers from New York, Christoph Niemann, Nicholas Blechman, Ji Lee and Ze Frank, engaged with delegates at the Young Designers Simulcast between sessions.

The main plenary presentations had broad appeal with specialists in graphic design, interior & product design, industrial design, architecture and photography, presenting their successes & predictions to a captive audience. In addition to the stalwart design presentations, Trend Forecaster, Li Edelkoort and legendary music producer and founder of Island Records & Palm Pictures, Chris Blackwell, regaled capacity audiences.

For the second time at an adjacent auditorium, the conference included the Specialist Indabas focusing on Jewellery, Fashion and Architecture where local and international designers in the respective fields debated the contribution of the above creative sectors to the South African economy. One of the key fashion industry speakers, Dr Valerie Steele, commented that it would be commercially short-sighted to rely too much on ethnic differences if local fashion designers were trying to break into the international market. She recommends we consider what we can contribute to the world that no one else can.

The Design Indaba Charity Banquet concluded the first day of the Conference with Design Education top of mind. 400 high-profile guests including business leaders, politicians, media personalities and Indaba speakers attended the fund-raising event.

The theme for this year's Charity Banquet was "Buy Design", reflecting not only the auction aspect of the evening, but also the fact that design increasingly contributes to this country's economy. On the evening, guests bid for the valuable time of, as well as bespoke pieces by, renowned South African designers. The auction raised an overwhelming R145 000 which will be awarded to leading public institutions in the creative and design fields.

The Red Bull Design Indaba After Party entitled, Music: The Beat Economy was an aural and visual treat for delegates. Featuring top Cape Town bands: The Real Estate Agents, Lark, The Wild Eyes, The Dirty Skirts, Unit R & Jakobson as well as celebrating music graphics from Cape Town's contemporary indie music scene. Feel free to download a compilation of songs by the bands at and create your own music CD.

The magnitude and support of the 3rd Design Indaba Expo was testimony to the significance of the Design Indaba conference. This three-day curated showcase of the best original South African design attracted 15 500 visitors, including 27 international as well as local buyers.

International designer and Design Indaba conference speaker Tom Dixon had selected the Rural Transport Prototypes as his favourites on the Design Indaba Expo floor, however from the 18 beautiful objects selected by the curator panel, Tom announced the "Hawker Bench" by Tonic Design Studio as the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa.

Visitors to the Design Indaba Expo had the opportunity to see top South African designer fashion labels strutted on the catwalk all day - and then purchase these amazing designs at the Designer boutique. Thanks to the Transnet Foundation, 48 creative arts students, ranging from architecture and visual art to fashion and advertising, showcased their designs at the Design Indaba Expo - great exposure for young South African designers entering the local as well as International market. Visitors to the Expo were amazed by the beauty and innovation represented in the "Designs Made in Africa" exhibit which showcased world-class designs originating from various African countries.

Your continued participation in the Design Indaba Event is what makes it spectacular. We look forward to your future support and to superior design in South Africa.