Was the Cape Design Indaba 2012 worth it? asks Robin Opperman

We recently attended the Cape Design Indaba 2012. This is the annual pow wow of art, craft and design, held at the Cape Town international Convention Centre.

 If you are a creative or design enterprise, this is the ‘Oscar Awards’ for you.

As Umcebo Design, we have been working very hard, on not only celebrating our design successes, but as we do each year, taking new and innovative work to Indaba. This work references our past ranges, addresses our client needs, and sees us looking at new designs. Given the recession, and the fact that most modern homes have low ceilings, we took our familiar pendant bead and wirework chandeliers, and we made a nature inspired table lamp, and wall sconce chandelier. The reaction was very good to this work, so we felt vindicated in our choices, and decision to exhibit. The indaba was definitely the best I have ever attended, out of the five that we have participated in. The corridors between stands were wider, and like minded exhibitors were grouped together, so they could network, and support each other. The buyers and public were conservative with their money, but we received an amazing amount of exposure, opportunities to network, and potential business to follow up on. We also shared a Stand with our partner organization, Ukhamba Craft, and we enjoyed their support, as well as our work complementing each other. It allowed us to think beyond our brand, and to join forces with a powerful creative force, in the form of Wendy Chatterton, who leads a group of rural woman, who crochet creative and functional items, such as bath mats, and free form rugs, out of a t-shirt off cuts.

The inevitable question in these trying times is, was it worth attending the indaba? I would answer a resounding yes.

Firstly, the Indaba allows you a free creative forum, where you can not only express your own skills and creativity, but you can network with local and international artists, crafters and designers. During the time spent at the Indaba, you meet a wide range of decorators, retailers and fellow creatives, and you are able to test your work, see other peoples work, and form valuable friendships, partnerships, and business relationships.

Secondly, you realize just how creative South Africa, and the world have become. Of the 200 exhibitors, they cover the full range, from fashion, to furniture, to lighting and decor. The mediums are as diverse as crocheting, bead and wirework, lazer cut metals and perspex. International buyers and press flood the event, so you and your brand are blogged Facebooked, and spread out across the Internet, and almost every other communication channel.

One trend that is emerging, and which is going to lead to a very lively debate, is when is someone ‘referencing’ or just outright ‘copying’. The issue of Intellectual Property is a hot one, and the discussions and debates are just getting started. Indaba allows you to test the waters, and for this debate to play itself out, in this interesting and diverse forum.

We have just returned from the 2012 Indaba, and already we are planning our stand, and work for the 2013 Indaba. I would urge all creative people to attend this amazing event. it should be the first thing you enter in you new diary each year. It is money well spent, and if you view it as a networking and design expo, you will feed off these contacts for the remainder of the year.

www.umcebodesign.co.za | Facebook :Umcebo-Design | Twitter: @umcebodesign

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