Hot commodities

South African design cognoscenti are increasingly ready to spend, spend, spend – and where better to do so than the 2007 Design Indaba Expo.

First Published in

For the first time, all Design Indaba Expo stands were sold out a month before the event, with a waiting list instituted and over 240 exhibitors ready to show the best of their wares. This is a massive growth on 55 exhibitors in 2004 and 163 last year.

This 2007 collective of original homegrown talent is made up of 211 expo exhibitors – 113 new exhibitors and 98 past exhibitors; and 34 emerging creatives – students from selected tertiary institutions plus exhibitors sponsored by PG Bison and Plascon.

Visitor attendance at this casbah of cool ballooned from 9 000 in 2004 to 15 500 in 2006, and should attract more than 20 000 visitors this year, says Design Indaba Expo content manager Lauren Shantall.

At present 92 retail buyers are expected to attend – 17 will be brought out by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), 35 other international buyers will come to SA independently, and there will be 40 local buyers.

In 2005 the dti-supported foreign buyers ordered in excess of R1 million from Expo exhibitors, and in 2006 over R1,5 million.

The exhibitors featured in the show catalogue The Ultimate Guide to Local Design – that will be on sale at the Expo – promise rich pickings:

  • Interior design and architecture: 8 exhibitors e.g. MMA Architects and Ink interiors;
  • Industrial and product design: 6 exhibitors e.g. ...XYZ;
  • Furniture: 20 exhibitors e.g. Egg Design, Heath Nash, Haldane Martin;
  • Textile design: 10 exhibitors e.g. Sway Textiles, Helon Melon, Yda Walt;
  • Crafts: 20 exhibitors e.g. Mogalakwena, Phumani Paper;
  • Ceramics: 20 exhibitors e.g.  Wonki Ware, Clementina van der Walt, Hennie Meyer;
  • Décor: 18 exhibitors e.g. Robin Sprong, Johno du Plessis; 
  • Graphic design and publishing: 12 companies e.g. Bell-Roberts;
  • Glass: 5 e.g. Hot Earth, Inini Glass, Edge;
  • Fashion (shoes, clothing, accessories and more): 38 e.g. Upakile, Stuffit; and
  • Jewellery: 26 e.g. Olive Green Cat, She Can Vanish, Firepetals.

All exhibitors have been evaluated and approved by a curator panel that comprises industry experts, stylists, publishers, leading designers and critics whose opinions and achievements are well respected.
For the second year running, each curator will select the object on the Expo floor that he or she considers the most beautiful. A keynote speaker at the Design Indaba Conference will then select the most beautiful object from this list, on the evening
of Thursday 22 February, at the Expo opening function, before the Expo is open to the general public.

"The quest for the ‘most beautiful’ competition last year was so successful, garnering huge media publicity and leading to an international distribution deal for one of the finalists, that we want to build on its momentum with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture (DAC)," says Shantall.

The most beautiful objects will be exhibited in the central area of the Expo, from 22-25 February. They will carry DAC branding and be labelLed the "Most Beautiful Objects in South Africa". Each object will be displayed on a plinth that will carry biographical info on that curator, and a quote explaining why they chose that particular object.
Expo public opening hours are:

Friday 23 February  (11:00 – 20:00); Saturday 24 February (10:00 – 19:00) and Sunday 25 February (10:00 – 18:00).

No pre-booking is necessary. Tickets will be available at the door at a cost of

R40 for adults, R20 for students and pensioners, R15 for children under 18, while children under five enter free of charge