Quarter 03 / 2003

Magazine Cover

Greetings! It’s almost 10 years since the seeds of Design Indaba were sown, and it’s been an amazing journey. What started as an opportunity to celebrate design and to fasttrack South Africa’s readmission into the global marketplace, has evolved into a vanguard that goes way beyond the flagship event at the end of February. It has become a 24/7/365 obsession that aims to grow the creative industries in South Africa and now incorporates events, media, education and training, business development and an advocacy group to business, government and society.

Our strategic trinity is: Inspiration, Education and Beneficiation! More and more we know that, to be more relevant to contemporary South Africa, we have to go beyond ideas and concepts and leverage design into job creation and growing the economy. And we learnt from our research that the creative industries can be a huge impetus to the economy. For example, in a recent study commissioned by the Mayor of London entitled: Creativity, London’s core business, it was stated that the creative industry was the second-biggest contributor to the regional GDP of London, and one of the fastest growth areas for job creation. Interestingly, it contributes £21-billion to the London economy, and the majority of companies in this sector were small to medium enterprises. Clearly this is of huge relevance to a resurgent South Africa, and we can take heed. Growth of the creative industries should be a strategic imperative in our country.

In this issue, apart from featuring forthcoming Design Indaba attractions like Karim Rashid, David Carson and Mary Lewis, we will showcase two extensions to the Design Indaba story. The first is the Design Indaba Workshop Series, which is growing from strength to strength and from city to city. In essence, it adds a global view to design education in South Africa, and brings out top-flight international designers to conduct interactive workshops at local institutions. We have learnt from our first four workshops, and thought that we should now consolidate this into a coherent, cohesive national programme. We recently travelled to every major design institution in the country: Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria. We were buoyed by the response of all the design educators nationwide and learnt that it may be worthy to co-ordinate workshops for the lecturers as well: train the trainer could be the new refrain! In the month of September 2003 we facilitated the Design Indaba Workshop Series Goes Dutch events, with world-renowned Irma Boom (also a Professor of Design at Yale University, no less!) and Joost Alferink conducting workshops in Bloemfontein, Pretoria and Cape Town. You can read more about this on pages 63.

And the big news is that the Design Indaba Workshop Series will take place 12 times a year at select tertiary institutions throughout the country as of May 2004. As before, each workshop will be facilitated by one of the world’s top designers - usually a former international Design Indaba speaker – and consists of up to five days of creative brainstorming, training, production and refinement around a specific brief. The end product is a tangible product - a brochure, a book or a bag, for example - that can be used in each participant’s portfolio.

Through the Design Indaba Workshops we will get to meet more than 5000 students from all over South Africa - the perfect opportunity to identify talented young designers who deserve further development. For those who aren't design students but would nonetheless like to hear our world-class designers speak, two open plenary sessions are held during the course of each workshop. The first session will be open to all students and staff from the hosting institution, and the second will be open to all design professionals in the locale.

The second development is the Design Indaba Expo, featured on page 67. It will be inaugurated at next year's event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The idea is simple - we will showcase the best of South African design across product design, fashion design, interiors, architecture, film and video, new media and graphic design. Our target market, beyond the Design Indaba delegate, will be international buyers and journalists, as well as the general public. We want to ensure that we have more discerning customers in South Africa, as they will force producers to raise the bar, thereby ensuring South Africa's competitiveness (a Michael Porter strategem, designed to ensure that we adapt to create a locus of excellence in design). Interestingly, the Design Indaba Expo will celebrate the innovator, and not the sales agent - so we will place the designer upfront and centre, and not someone who has the marketing rights for some groovy lava lamp, for example.

So we have more work to do. But we are taking a punt, and putting all our resources into the creative industries - we are of the opinion that creativity is the "X" factor that will take our GDP growth rate from two to six percent! - Ravi Naidoo