Design Indaba 2007 retrospective

Redefining the world became the key idea at a conference and expo with some of the world's most revolutionary and discerning creative minds

Redefining the world became the key idea at a conference and expo with some of the world's most revolutionary and discerning creative minds.

"Articulate what you have to offer the world," declared Alistair King, head of advertising agency King James and opening speaker at the three-day conference. King was joined by designer rock-star Brian Eno, godfather of graphic design Neville Brody and super-slick Jaguar designer Keith Helfet, all of whom took the stage during a memorable three days.

A record 2 664 graphic, fashion and jewellery designers, as well as marketers, retailers, architects, students and academics, attended the conference – an event that has established itself as one of the most significant creative platforms in the world.

"Design matters. It always does. Dignified and honourable structures are what make people feel proud," said a very inspiring Cameron Sinclair, executive director of Architecture for Humanity. Sinclair presented at both the main plenary as well as the Architecture Indaba, where he spoke alongside Jo Noero and Lindy Roy.

The Specialist Indabas attracted industry and public audiences that were regaled by jewellery experts David Watkins and Ruudt Peters, while Li Edelkoort and Barbara Hulanicki shared their visions of future trends.

In addition to the Conference, Design Indaba arranged a Masterclass with keynote speakers D&AD president Tony Davidson and Martin Lambie-Nairn, director and fellow of the Royal Television Society. This event was open exclusively to invited guests of The Sunday Times and the SABC respectively. It offered both The Sunday Times and the SABC a great opportunity to engage with some of the best creatives in print and broadcasting media.

For the second year running, the Design Indaba Conference formed a Carbon Standard consortium with its partners to reduce the negative impact an event such as this has on the environment.

With the compliments of Toyota SA, speakers at the conference were whisked to and from the Cape Town International Convention Centre in eco-friendly cars with hybrid engines that give off only half the amount of carbon dioxide emissions compared to ordinary petrol engines.

The Carbon Standard calculates the amount of carbon produced by an individual, company or event as well as the amount of trees that need to be planted in order to compensate for it; hence the term "carbon-neutral". In collaboration with Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA), Design Indaba has committed itself to planting 2 000 trees to reduce the environmental impact of the conference while simultaneously greening disadvantaged communities.

Five hundred of these trees will be planted on the Design Indaba 10 x 10 Housing Project sites– the latest undertaking by Design Indaba, where at least 10 disadvantaged Western Cape families are to receive homes designed by leading South African and international architects. The initiative marks the 10th edition of the Design Indaba Conference.

Design Indaba Expo presented a marketplace for South Africa's top design talent for the fourth time this year. The curated showcase of the best original South African design across 13 creative sectors attracted over 20 000 visitors, including over 100 international and local retail buyers, who trawled the Expo floor for high-quality, distinctly South African product  – 19 of the buyers were brought over by the Department of Trade and Industry. The Expo has grown from 55 exhibitors in 2004 to 240 this year.

The Most Beautiful Object in South Africa for 2007 was declared to be the Condom Applicator – designed by Roelf Mulder of the Cape Town based …XYZ Design – by renowned Dutch Designer and Design Indaba Conference speaker Jurgen Bey. It won out over 15 objects on display at this year's Design Indaba Expo.

The Condom Applicator has been described by Design Indaba Expo curator Bernard George Smith, of the CSIR in Pretoria, as "a small product that could have one of the biggest impacts on our social, cultural and economic future."