Quarter 01 / 2005

Magazine Cover

With the 8th Design Indaba upon us, we are all stretched taut, at an appropriate level of tension - a condition we call indaba nervosa - and everyone here at our offices are working flat out to co-ordinate what has become a mammoth undertaking. In our quieter moments, we face the prospect with equal measures of fear and bravado - knowing full well, that we are trying to create a field of dreams here - and hoping that, like the line in the movie, if we build it, they will come! And of course, we face a buffeting every once in a while - as no worthy undertaking comes easy. It's almost always a white knuckle ride to the finish - whether it's the first or the eighth event. Part of that is due to constant creative tension to grow the event, and make it better. Other reasons are not of our making - like the funding crisis we have just had. We were informed at a late juncture, that the Department of Arts and Culture would not be contributing to the Design Indaba because they overspent on the 10th Anniversary celebrations - despite the fact that this was budgeted for and that they are in year two of a three-year contract. The biggest issue was that we expanded the event by adding three new Indabas - Jewellery , Fashion and Architecture - and this increased our cost base markedly.

But given that we have become reasonably resilient and durable over the years - the Design Indaba machine is like a Hummer all terrain vehicle nowadays! We immediately scrambled into action to try to offset what was potentially a debilitating loss. Thankfully a few eminent corporate citizens stepped up to the plate, in the shape of Barloworld, Metallon and First National Bank - who are new supporters of our cause. Added to this, we are honoured by the support received by the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs in facilitating the inaugural Jewellery Indaba. The Minister is inspirational in driving beneficiation in the mining industry - and we are convinced that she will transform the commercial landscape through her focus on upstream activities like diamond cutting through to jewellery design.

The Department of Trade and Industry has been superb yet again in seeing the benefits of export promotion of South African design - and supporting the Design Indaba Expo for the 2nd year running. They have been great advocates of the creative industries and were rigorous in ensuring that there is measurable value-addition, and have top-flight personnel that we have found to be super efficient.

And our stalwart sponsors need a bouquet: Woolworths, SAPPI, SAA, SABC and Arabella Sheraton. Its been a pleasure working with them - most of these organisations have set up task teams to drive the growth of design, and have utilised all the platforms of Design Indaba through the year. And with the Expo, Transnet Foundation have rallied behind the emerging designers, while British American Tobacco, Ster-Kinekor and Seardel Corporation have thrown in their lot. There is clearly a growing acknowledgement from corporate South Africa that design can enhance our country's competitive advantage.

This event is fuelled by such goodwill - it's the only reason why we can leverage an event of this scale within an emerging economy - and it's to all of the people that helped, and continue to help make this event happen, that we dedicate this issue of the magazine. They run into hundreds and are too numerous to mention here - but we will run an honours roll on the Design Indaba website.

To my colleagues - Shaheda, Annette, Roy, Richard, Aziza, Dale, Brian, Michelle, Tanya, Adriane, Amanda, Shaunelle, Meagan, Rhoda, Hilary, Roshnee, Lindsay, Shawn, Yasheeni, Sharon, Ethalina, Leshni and Andrew (X2) - thanks for your resolve and dedication to our cause celebré. It can be tough sometimes, but it is always rewarding. Despite all the hard work and the attendant risk, comes the acknowledgement that we are changing something - one person at a time. At a workshop. For an emerging creative. An order from an international buyer. Via a new bursary. Via the inspiration of a thought leader. These are the subtle increments of progress.

Lets create a better future, by design. - Ravi Naidoo