In the future, cars will be replaced with compost-fuelled space rockets, houses will constitute climate-resistant anoraks, fashion will glide off computers in customised completion, meals will be prepared from molecules, products will be printed on your home 3D printer, robots will complete menial tasks, and water will be condensed straight out of the atmosphere into your cup. And, everything will be better in this super future.
Well, maybe. Thing is, we’ll still just be human – with all our warts and glory. Fallibility and mortality in tact, no amount of world reinvention is going to contest the basic human condition – rich or poor. As perennial humans, we’re still going to seek out the timeless basics that help us exist in our own skin – community, sensory stimulation, companionship, misbehaviour, new experiences, risk, faith, love… So how many designer couches does it really take to fill the hole?
As many pointed out at Design Indaba 2009, the trick for designers is to, firstly, stay human oneself and, secondly, imbue one’s work with that humanity, feeling, passion and empathy. “It’s better to work for love than money,” Marian Bantjes, our cover designer, summed it all up. This edition of the Design Indaba magazine, Superhuman, interprets technology and futurism through love, by humans, for humans.
The world’s vanguard chef, Ferran Adrià reveals his sensory obsessions, while Dai Fujiwara turns to nature and minimalism to keep his humanity in tact. Nobumichi Tosa seeks creative progress through nonsense, Michaella Janse van Vuuren discovers her artistic outlet through science, Richard Hart challenges his design moniker with an art exhibition, Leah Hawker lifts the skin on home tech, and Design Indaba delegates submit superheroes for the future. This edition is an emotive mash-up, tailored for humans, not “users” as Dunne&Raby scoff.
And finally, a shout out to all the Design Indaba 2009 sponsors, as well as the over 1 500 delegates, 550 simulcasters, 30 speakers and 70 journalists who attended the Design Indaba Conference, not to mention the over 29 000 visitors, 360 buyers, 260 exhibitors and 240 journalists who attended the Design Indaba Expo… To every one of you: We love you, man. As Lynda Relph-Knight’s review attests, design is firmly established in the future of South Africa. – Nadine Botha