See what creativity can do

A round-up of highlights at the upcoming Design Indaba Conference and Expo 2008.

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Buyers flock to Design Indaba

Design Indaba 2008 has already pre-registered more than 200 buyers. Of these buyers, 94 are local buyers and 83 international buyers from countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, The Netherlands, South Korea and Dubai. A further 16 buyers have registered specifically for the jewellery showcase.

Longstanding Design Indaba partner, the Department of Trade and Industry also acknowledge the economic potential of encouraging international awareness of South African creative products. This year, the dti are sponsoring 16 buyers from brands including Galeries Lafayette, Kizow, Catembo, Rainbow Gallery, Globus Department Stores and the Urban Collective to attend the event.

"The dti has been involved with the Design Indaba Expo since its inception and every year we are inundated with more and more buyer requests. The Expo is evidently growing international opportunities for creative South African entrepreneurs to leverage their goods and services - and this corresponds entirely with the dti's mandate," said Nadia Sujee, the dti's director of Creative Industries.

"Displaying constant growth, the Design Indaba Expo is also remarkable for not having stagnated. This is possibly because of its long-term investment in building skills, technology and infrastructure platforms, and broad-based BEE initiatives. Keeping it proudly South African, Design Indaba has also elevated the profile of local design among local audiences," Sujee continued.

The economic leverage of the buyers attending Expo is significant. In 2005 the dti-supported foreign buyers alone ordered in excess of R1 million, in 2006 over R1,5 million and in 2007 more than R3 million from Expo exhibitors.

In addition to financial success is the growing international reputation of South African designers. Eco-light designer Heath Nash participated in 100% London and 100% Tokyo last year thanks to contacts made at the Expo, while architect and industrial designer Tsai received a Red Dot award for his Nested Bunkbeds, first shown at the Expo. In turn, Streetwires's participation in the Expo resulted in a commission for 200 life-sized wire sheep from an American company.

"I find the Design Expo an invaluable event for touching base with established designers, discovering fresh emerging talent, feeling the heartbeat of our growing industry and for having a really good time," said Trevyn McGowan, a South African sourcing agent for the international retail market, including the Conran Shop in the UK, and Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Terrain in the US. She also works with a number of boutique stores in Europe. In 2007 she wrote R10 million worth of orders for South African products.

Mike Purdham, Design Expo manager, agreed: "South African design improves in quality and quantity every year. This year the Design Indaba Expo is bigger than ever in terms of exhibitors and floor space. With almost double the buyers, too, we are expecting the financial indicators to set a record high."

Ultimate Guide to Local Design V2.0

The Ultimate Guide to Local Design V2.0 showcases southern Africa's top creative products and producers, as gathered together at the 2008 Design Indaba Expo. This handbook provides unique insight into the distinctive creative vision of 21st century southern African designers across all genres.

Most Beautiful Object in South Africa

Design Indaba's Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA award) asks our diverse country: "What is beauty?" While some may consider it an aspect of taste and others know it on sight, beauty becomes far more profound than a visual sensation when design characteristics such as social significance, economic impact, aesthetic value, humanist intuitions, lifestyle functioning and sustainability are thrown into the mix.

Different to previous incarnations of the award, the 2008 MBOISA will be posing this question of beauty directly to the public. For the first time, visitors to the Design Indaba Expo will vote via SMS. The competition promises to be fierce. What will the country's consensus be? Will luxury, making life easier, basic human needs, entertainment or even sheer folly be triumphant in the ultimate beauty contest?

Advertising excellence

The 2007 Loerie Awards exhibition will be launching at this year's Design Indaba. Sponsored by the SABC, the travelling exhibition will include all the grand prix, gold and silver Loerie winners and is a showcase of the best advertising, design and experiential marketing in Africa and the Middle East. In addition to the exhibition, the printed annual will also be launched during Design Indaba. The exhibition will then travel around southern Africa and even as far as the famed One Club in New York.

Let's get fresh

Get a taste of the future of South African design through the Emerging Creatives platform, sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture. Showcasing 40 of the country's freshest, youngest designers, just embarking on their careers, this is a trendsetter's delight. The likes of Alfalfa, Andile Dyalvane, Warren Lewis and Lyall Sprong all launched their careers here.

Growing up green

Specialising in contemporary children's furniture, Clever Little Monkey will be launching a new range of eco-friendly, sustainable children's furniture, linen and wall décor, as well as a see-through chair and table set that gets filled with shredded recycled paper. Other green products include African Gameskin's new eco-friendly vegtan leather; Carbon D'Afreeque's bags made from PVC billboard skins; and Give-it-Bag's shopping carriers made from recycled coffee, sugar and rice packaging.

Bringing the whole neighbourhood

Woodstock design hotspot, The Biscuit Mill will most likely be deserted during Design Indaba Expo. Permanent tenants including Whatiftheworld / Design Studio, Mü&Me, Robin Sprong from the Exposure Gallery, Tinsel, Heartworks and Imiso Ceramics, as well as regular participants in the Neighbourhood Goods Market including Alfalfa, Skermunkil, Woo-Men and Stephanie Roop, will be setting up shop at the Design Indaba Expo.

Launch pad

Design Indaba Expo visitors will be privy to laying their eyes on the newest design must-haves. Some product launches are top secret - like Haldane Martin's - but here's a taster of what to expect.

Projekt comprises 15 talented crocheters from Imizamo Yethu, an informal settlement near Hout Bay. See their new collection of cushion designs being launched to complement their existing tableware collection · Longstanding Design Indaba Expo exhibitor, Flickglass are diversifying from their vividly coloured dichroic glass collection to also launch the My China ceramic collection - a fun range of porcelain bottle stoppers and bowls · Jeweller Frieda Lühl is launching a striking new range of heart safety pin earrings and brooches that bring bold minimalism to the punk functionality · Pioneers of ostrich eggshell mosaics, Avoova will be launching a new range of aluminium bowls and platters, as well as its stunning new collection of ostrich eggshell bangles · Read the story of how Monkeybiz has empowered 450 women in the Cape Town townships through the production of quirky wire and bead designs, in their new book Bead by Bead · The Kalk Bay Modern will be showcasing a range of textiles by Cheryl Rumbak, who incorporated contemporary San motifs from the Ekoka Art Project in Namibia. An ethical range of sandals and bags by Namibia's African Tan will also be on show · Whatiftheworld / Design Studio has commissioned emerging designers from around the country to design bespoke cookie cutters for the Design Indaba Expo. Their collection of contemporary design by Xandre Kriel, Adriaan Hugo, Liam Mooney, Missibaba and Lyall Sprong will also be on view · Fine porcelain ceramicist Lisa Firer is launching Candle Cuffs - a range of small porcelain "cuffs" designed to slip over tea light candles · The African Queen Studio are branching out from jewellery, applying their unique leather bead technique to décor with a brand new range of leather bead curtains · Glassblower Martli Jansen van Rensburg has been collaborating in the past year. The new Lae collection was born from collaborations with textile and jewellery designers. She has also started working with Smelt, a new hands-on glass blowing studio open to the public · Leading fashion designer Amanda Laird Cherry is launching the Love Hurts T-shirt range, in which crafters from the Hillcrest Aids centre have embellished printed T-shirts with embroidery. Besides the crafters being paid to do the work, 20% of the sale of the T-shirts will be given to the Hillcrest Aids centre for a Respite Centre that they are hoping to build. · Quirky toys for adults and kids, Woo-men Plush Toys will be launching a range of blank toys that can be customised by the owner using fabric paints, kokis, spray paint, fabric, felt or anything else.

Fashion Mix Masala

Local fashion has come to represent a conscientious choice for discerning South Africans. Displaying a bold pastiche, our country's fashion signature speaks of pride, optimism and humanism. In celebration of this democratic melting pot of creative self-expression, Design Indaba is launching a dedicated fashion arena in 2008, following the more than 20 000 visitors to last year's Expo and fashion show. Sponsored by the SABC, the arena will host an all-day fashion and film festival, as well as a fashion boutique.

Strengthening its position of presenting fashion in an original format, Design Indaba will again send the pedestal-like catwalk back to the dockyard. Begging the format of a typical fashion show with the catwalk-model-strut-pose formula, the Design Indaba fashion arena will be asking fashion designers to communicate their "story" or brand.

Last year we saw this format being communicated by gymnasts, tap dancers, models, ballet dancers, mimes, contortionists, puppets and performance artists. Again this year, producer Jan Malan promises to push the creative boundaries right off the stage.

Expect the likes of PWHOA by Richard de Jager, I Love Leroy by Sarah Webber, Lunar, Ruby, Afro Diva by Hip Hop, Suzaan Heyns, Fundudzi by Craig Jacobs, Karen Monk Klinjstra, Earthquake by John Sithole, Amanda Laird Cherry, Stiaan Louw, Sin by Sandhya Lalloo and Native by Craig Native.

The growing need of men to find their form of expression in fashion is also noted this year, with both Ruby and Stiaan Louw launching their first dedicated ranges for men. While Ruby will be offering their trademark cheeky underwear, Louw's collection will focus on merging streetwear with techniques such as tuxedo detailing, to create a uniquely quirky yet sophisticated collection.

Specialist Indabas

Architecture Indaba: 26 February 2008, 10am to 1pm
Building the future

Renowned Tokyo-based architect and Design Indaba luminary Mark Dytham returns this year with tales of launching Pecha Kucha and how he's bringing a British sensibility to Japanese architecture. He will be joined by Britain's Jason Bruges, who has redefined architecture to encompass large-scale interactive designs. More speakers to be announced. A ticket costs R750 at Computicket.

Lifestyle Indaba: 26 February 2008, 2pm to 5pm
The story of lifestyle

Design is about telling the ongoing story of a place, rather than imposing a style, according to leading creative director Ilse Crawford (UK). Don't miss the opportunity to hear Crawford alongside world-renowned trend forecaster Li Edelkoort (NL) and Laetitia Wolff (US), editor of New York lifestyle magazine Surface. A ticket costs R395 at Computicket.

Jewellery Indaba: 25 February 2008, 1pm to 3pm
Crown jewellers

Pioneer of nanocrystalline diamond, inventor of the multiple ring set and widely regarded as one of the world's leading studio jewellers, Wendy Ramshaw (UK) is not to be missed. Ramshaw will share the podium with Swiss designer Christoph Zellweger, who is considered one of the most thought provoking and stimulating jewellery designers in Europe. A ticket costs R450 at Computicket.

Design Indaba Conference: Creating the future

Leading creative thinkers are set to converge at the Design Indaba Conference from Wednesday 27 February to Friday 29 February, 2008.

A contingent of four speakers from Japan is predicted to set a futuristic tone to the proceedings. Design anthropologist Shin-ichi Takemura explores the changes in social interactions caused by the widespread technological devices, while industrial designer Shunji Yamanaka bases his innovations on extensive psychological research.

Product designer Toshiyuki Kita also uses technology to enable designs that embody a completely new viewpoint, made entirely from recyclable and biodegradable materials. Graphic designer Hideki Inaba is known for pushing the boundaries of aesthetics into the future of visual communication.

Multidisciplinary London design firm Airside, socially driven graphic designer Mirko Ilic, motion graphics industry leader Jakob Trollbäck, senior creative director at Philips Design Oscar Peña, graphic designer and writer from Pentagram Abbott Miller, as well as one mystery speaker have also been confirmed.

Previously announced speakers include Paul D Miller - aka DJ Spooky the Subliminal Kid, Ilse Crawford, Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker, Maxim Velcovsky, Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien, Marije Vogelzang, Tucker Viemeister, Bill Moggridge, Ivan Chermayeff, Oona Scheepers and Gert Dumbar.

Design Indaba All Stars

To be launched at Design Indaba 2008, Design Indaba All Stars celebrates 35 of the most prominent international guests that we have hosted at the event and featured in the Design Indaba magazine. Lucy Orta. Mark Farrow. Erik Spiekermann. Jonathan Barnbrook. Fernando Gutierrez. Stefan Sagmeister. Sir Terence Conran. Irma Boom. Stefano Giovannoni. Neville Brody. Karim Rashid. Mary Lewis. Shubhankar Ray. Kenya Hara. Ross Lovegrove. Peter Saville. Dan Pearson. Bob Sabiston. Shigeo Fukuda. Milton Glaser. Ron Arad. David Adjaye. Dieter Rams. Fernando and Humberto Campana. Michael Bierut. Tom Dixon. Inga Sempé. Christoph Niemann. Matali Crasset. Paul Priestman. Javier Mariscal. Tobias Frere-Jones. Massimo and Lella Vignelli. Yves Béhar. Need we say more?

Foreign eye for the local guy

New York design duo Jan Wilker and Hjalti Karlsson recently spent two weeks in South Africa as part of a real-time design adventure. "Reacting visually to a country you've not been to before, on a continent you've never been to, for 10 straight days, was a challenging as well as a beautiful experience. We met lots of people, asked many questions, got many more answers, tried all the local beers, ate meat from 10 different animals; sometimes we felt at home, sometimes we felt queasy, sometimes we felt lost. And surprisingly, most of the time we were surrounded by white people," said Wilker.

Besides travelling through Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, visiting institutions, studios, agencies, culture markets and eating houses, Wilker and Karlsson also presented workshops to students from Vega's Imagination Labs in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. "It was a fantastic experience for us to work with all the students, especially in the townships - funnyily enough they beat the 'city kids' in passion, commitment, curiousness and agility by miles," exclaimed Wilker.

Wilker and Karlsson will be revealing their findings and designs for the first time at the Design Indaba 2008 conference.

Ten houses for Freedom Park

Design Indaba's 10x10 Housing Project is pleased to announce that building has started on the designated plots in Freedom Park. The first house will be unveiled during the Design Indaba Expo at the end of February.

Launched at last year's Design Indaba, the 10x10 Housing Project challenged 10 architectural teams to provide innovative and dynamic design solutions for the low-cost housing sector. Ten of the first solution will be built in this first phase of the project, thanks to sponsorship from PG Bison and Pennypinchers. Future constructions involving the other nine designs are envisioned.

The solution to be implemented is the entry from architect Luyanda Mpahlwa, assisted by Kirsty Ronné. Using an innovative new building system, Ecobeams, the design offers a number of improvements on the standard RDP house. Ecobeams are equal, if not superior, to brick-and-mortar, however, significantly cheaper and eco-friendly. Taking this into account Mpahlwa has increased the size of the house and created a fluid interplay between public and private spaces in and around the house. The house is also built on a framework, making it easy to expand, and involves the whole community in its construction.

The participating architectural teams are: Jo Noero (Cape Town) and Cameron Sinclair (San Francisco); Vanessa September (Cape Town) and Lindy Roy (New York); Luyanda Mpahlwa (Cape Town) and Will Alsop (London); Andrew Makin and Janina Masojada (Durban), and Christoph Egret (London); Lesley Carstens and Silvio Rech (Johannesburg), and Thomas Heatherwick (London); Stefan Antoni (Cape Town) and Eva Jiricna (London); Ruben Reddy (Durban) and Mark Dytham (Tokyo); Martin Kruger (Cape Town) and David Adjaye (London); Henning Rasmus (Johannesburg) and Shigeru Ban (Tokyo); and Don Albert (Cape Town) and Tom Dixon (London).

Watch the Talk with Shunji Yamanaka