Focus On: Women in design

We look back at some of the phenomenal women who have graced the stage of Design Indaba Conference and who are making an indelible mark on the world.
Paula Scher on stage at Design Indaba Conference.
Paula Scher on stage at Design Indaba Conference.

Zanele Muholi on talking about intimacy

Zanele Muholi is a Johannesburg-based visual activist focussing on black lesbian, gay and transgender individuals: “I’m fascinated by LGBTI people in different spaces.” Prior to her photographic journey into black female sexuality and gender in Africa, she worked as a human/lesbian rights activist to raise awareness around issues facing black lesbian women living in South Africa.

Paula Scher on creativity as a small defiant act of misbehaving

“Creativity is a small defiant act of misbehaving,” said Paula Scher at Design Indaba Conference 2013. The renowned environmental graphic designer dedicated her presentation to highlighting seven fundamental projects where she established a “breakthrough” changing either the project or the way she designed in the future.

Watch her full conference talk here. 

Lauren Beukes on where truth and fiction meet

Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City and The Shining Girls, uses twisty fiction to explore who we are in the world right now. Beukes who wanted to be a writer since she was five years old hit with Zoo City, a science fiction novel, in 2010 that earned her the much-coveted Arthur C. Clarke Award. 

Here she talks about how she uses imaginative fiction to explore ways in which the 20th century has shaped us and how using crazy ideas allows us to get at the truth in an interesting way.

Sissel Tolaas on discovering the world from the perspective of the nose

Scent expert Sissel Tolaas has been working at the intersection of smell and language since 1990. Over the years she has collected some 6 730 smells from around the world. Using these smells, Tolaas aims to train the nose to go beyond emotion and relate to smell in a rational way.

At Design Indaba Conference 2012 she speaks about various projects she has undertaken: from making cheese from human bacteria to capturing the scent of fear.

Watch her full conference talk here.

Marije Vogelzang on designing the act of eating

In an interview at What Design Can Do conference 2013, Marije Vogelzang spoke about her interest in the way food affects the body, mind and emotions. According to Vogelzang she is not a food designer, but rather an eating designer as she works with the verb of eating.

"I think food is perfectly designed by nature. I don’t need to design the food itself, I want to design the act of eating," she says.

Watch the Talk with Lauren Beukes