Creative redesigns at DI2011

From housing solutions and designing for disability to branding and fun, the 2011 Design Indaba Conference had something for everybody.

For three days, from 23 to 25 February 2011, the Design Indaba Conference was the epicenter of global creativity. More than 45 speakers addressed some 2 200 delegates on topics ranging from designing for disability to branding, housing solutions for Africa, downloadable design and more.

Taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the main plenary session sold out for the seventh year in a row. This opened up the Young Designers Simulcast to professionals, which also sold out for the second year in a row.

The first day set the tone for the event with a powerhouse of presentations. Israeli designer Dror Benshetrit debuted his QuaDror, a structural truss system set to revolutionise construction. From Burkina Faso, architect Francis Kéré had the crowd on their feet with this lively presentation and the passion with which he shared his ideas for sustainable, low-cost housing solutions for Africa.

Branding was a key theme that emerged over the three days, with the likes of Michael Wolff, Dana Arnett, Robert Wong and David Butler having their say on the subject. Meanwhile, graphic designers Hat-trick, Bibliothèque and Richard Hart reminded us of the possibilities of this discipline. Always popular, the product designers at the Design Indaba Conference 2011 included Alberto Alessi, Maarten Baas, Renny Ramakers and Jens Martin Skibsted.

Thematic presentations throughout the event brought different voices together on one subject. “Lessons in Creative Entrepreneurship” saw exceptional entrepreneurs talk about harnessing the power of creativity for business. Pecha Kucha-style presentations by graduates from leading design institutions proved that youth is not wasted on the young. Other thematic presentations included health and design concerns with David Kester, Luke Pearson and Deborah Szebeko of the British Design Council. The highly topical “Design MBA” presented designers and thought-leaders representing Mexico, Brazil and Africa.

There was also much fun to be had with maverick typographer Oded Ezer introducing the audience to biotypographer. Charlie Todd shared stories of creating scenes of joy and chaos in public spaces. Karin Fong talked about creating cinematic masterpieces, while Ben Fry took data visualisation to a new level.

Hailing from India, Kiran Bir Sethi made suggestions for reforming school education, while South Africa’s own Mark Shuttleworth spoke about the power of design for open source computing.

Ending the event on a spectacularly high note, Design Indaba reminded the audience of the abundance of cultural wealth found right here in South Africa, with grande finale by Hugh Masekela.

Delegates were also encouraged to tweet their thoughts, ideas and opinions, with the most inspiring tweet being rewarded a Kindle e-reader, loaded with a year’s subscription to the Mail&Guardian. Liam Booysen, with the Twitter name Beanbag Boy, won the prize with his tweet: #DesignIndaba 2011: Preserve culture, improve lives, have fun while doing so.