Words of wisdom and inspiration

Design Indaba 2014 has come and gone. We look back at the nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that speakers shared on stage.

From the Series

Day one

Chris Gotz

"Every child is an artist – the challenge is to remain one." (quoting Picasso)

"Children go to school and get their dreams scooped out of them to make space for the 9 times table."

"OK is not OK!"

"We are suffering from a deficit of primary evidence. Everything we experience is online. We need to get out more..."

"Ignore the brief and focus on what you have to do. Excite your client beyond his and your own expectations."

"Our creative attitude has changed from storytelling to story making"

Juliana Rotich

"What if solutions to the world's problems came from Africa?"

"Africa's next vanguard is dependent upon advancement on many fronts."

"Use function to drive technology, not vice versa." (on Ushahidi)

"We need to invest in creative networks and open up the doors for others to connect."

"Connectivity is directly proportionate to GDP."

"If it works in Africa it will work anywhere!"

Experimental Jetset

"We actually hate Helvetica!"

Jake Barton

"Sharing through technology gives rise to authentic expression of collective memory."

"Start with Yes. Make a statement." 

"There are no mistakes, only opportunities."

"Digital should amplify not replace." 

"If you spend all your time refining things before launching them you're in deep trouble."

"You have to immediately make a prototype that people use – if you just use prototyping for testing you miss what prototyping is all about."

"Tell an amazing story. That's what will age well and people will return to year after year."

Ije Nwokorie

"You can't really be radical unless you get practical."

"A brand is less about what you represent and more about what you do."

"Our job is to really get close to the people who build these products and communicate the reality of the organisation. 

"We're not going to create gurus. We're creating hackers, collaborators... not heroes of ourselves." (on the future generation of advertising)

"In Africa creativity isn't an option. You have to be creative to survive. [...] Systems don't always work. You have to design around them."

Ian Murchison

"Infuse materials in different product categories in a way that's practical." 

Dave Hakkens

"I don't care what I create as long as it pushes the world in a better direction."

Teshia Treuhaft

"Stop thinking of a chair in terms of legs, a seat and a backrest."

Tom Hulme

"1. We are all designers 2. We achieve more through collaboration 3. Tech is just a design tool." 

"Our job is to harness the technology and design with it. And to create new tools." 

"Design has to address a real human need in a low friction way."

"Make sure what you're designing for fills all the criteria on Maslow's framework and all pull in the same direction."

"Africa is the home of storytelling and stories are like SEO for the mind" 

Thomas Heatherwick 

"People remember people and moments."

"A sign of a successful city is that wealthy citizens use public transport."

Day two

DJ Stout 

"Sense of place is so important to graphic designers. If you don't pay attention to where you're from, then you get lost in trying to be global."

Michel Rojkind

"If I don't make the client understand what he's not seeing, I'm not doing my job." 

"I hire people who are good thinkers… I'd rather have a good thinker than a good sketcher."

"We collaborate not because we can't do something, but to be contaminated by other ideas."

"The only certain pattern is there is no pattern. Stop looking for things. Get out there. Experiment. Explore."

"Don't be a stereotyped designer. Don't be pinholed. Be a contemporary thinker." 

"The worst crisis is not an economic crisis. It's a mental crisis."

"This age of flux will be defined by fluidity than by any set paradigm."

Marcello Serpa

"Complicated seems clever to stupid people." 

"The cliché is immortal. It comforts the mediocre while protecting the cowards."

"If everyone is saving the planet then who the f*ck is destroying it?"

"Instead of talking about the future, show what you are doing today. This will define if youare alive tomorrow."

"Never work for someone who is not better than you."

"Be unpredictable. Being simple and predictable will be the death of you."

Stefan Scholten, Scholten & Baijings

"Texture is an unexplored area within car design."

"Deconstruction is an important part of understanding a product. Designers are curious to dismantle things to see how they work."

"We think design gets interesting when the needs of the public and needs of designer converge."

Athi-Patra Ruga

"Things mutate. Genders mutate. Animals mutate. It's a natural evolution."

On why he does performance art: "I'm doing it so we all feel we have a place within my body. My body is a landscape."

Zanele Muholi

"We want to find positive lesbian icons on Wikipedia as well. Not just victims." 

"Projecting positivity can lead to change."

Clive Wilkinson

"Fluidity and transparency in the workplace: knowing what's going on all around you makes things move much faster." 

"Neighbourhood planning can retain fluid boundaries while giving sense of group belonging. 

"[We are] living in an era where businesses live or die by their ideas."

“Technology has been moving so fast that we’re almost culturally incapable of keeping up with it.”

Lauren Beukes

“Hope is story.” 

Day three

Issa Diabate

"We made the shift from just being architects to being architects as developers."

"Let us design the future of urban Africa." 

"Our goal is to build a new generation of architects in Africa by creating the first school of architecture in Abidjan."

Jody Brand

"We were, and are, the masters of our own destiny. We are the owners of our history."

"I wanted to do a project that reclaimed my gender, my sexuality and the space around it"

Victoria Wigzell 

"I began to gather things, objects; I looked at things that happened around me. I looked at the suburbs."

Haroon Gunn-Salie

"Renaming is not just a symbolic act; it's really important. I am 'gatvol'... I have had enough..."

Kyla Philander

"I hope to slowly shift the consciousness of my audience."

"Equality is a major theme within my life and work. The main tool I use within my work is empathy."

El Ultimo Grito

"Design was what we did to figure out what design was."

"I have forced myself to contradict myself in order not to conform to my own taste."

Mikal Hallstrup

"It is designers' jobs to fix crappy stuff."

"We shouldn't make things too academic because then people just don't engage with it."

Vinay Venkatraman

"Design is not about an artefact or service offering anymore."

"Think of data as a new raw material."

Henrik Vibskov

"Clothing is one of the fastest communicators."

Nille Juul-Sorensen

"Maybe we should start designing the systems and not the gadgets."

"All the creatives here should start designing for the future."

"Design like you give a damn!"

Dean Poole

"People invented Twitter because they have so many holes in their lives."

"Sometimes creativity is just about knowing where to start."

"I love language, and that's really our base material as graphic designers."

David Goldblatt

"I wanted to meet ordinary people who had encountered the law." (on his former prisoners’ project)

"I'm a plodder. I'm not really creative."

Naoto Fukasawa

"A good designer is capable of objective sketching. We have to be able to step back to create harmonious objects."

"We need to focus more on the relationship between the product and the human and the environment."

"Humans should always be at the centre of design. I always try to be very simple."

"You have to observe people's natural behaviour to identify 'found objects'."

“My project is already in your mind; you just haven’t seen it yet.” 

Stefan Sagmeister

"Our brains allow fear to come in faster than joy."

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