In the 22 years of Design Indaba, how have you seen the local design landscape evolve? When we started in 1995, the conference was attended mostly by the creative community, but it has gradually grown to attract an audience that now includes commissioners of design as well as people across different industries like financial services and tech. More companies are using design thinking as an instrument to drive innovation.
South Africa still faces socioeconomic challenges and Design Indaba has gradually adopted a more activist stance, to try and use the expertise of some of our speakers to make change on the ground, whether it’s a low-cost housing development in Freedom Park or a public monument on Government Avenue in honour of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and our Constitution.
What does Nightscape bring to the festival? There are different ways to serve up inspiration. We want Design Indaba to be a perpetual beta experiment to explore ways to share knowledge, insight and expertise. This is why we have gone bigger with Nightscape. We want to give you an experience where something you have heard in one of the conference talks comes alive again in another format on the Nightscape stage.
How has Design Indaba changed you? It has been my university. I have missed only three presentations in the 22 years that I’ve been running Design Indaba. I really believe that the biggest design project is your life and you have to shape it in the direction you want.
The festival offers a wonderful curriculum of “best of class” exponents of this beautiful intersection between creativity, culture, commerce, and community. It has given me more courage to express myself and unleash new creative
projects as well as realise that inspiration is nothing without action. Design Indaba is this wonderful combination of yoga of knowledge and yoga of action. This is the central idea behind Do Tank, that we spend three days of inspiration at the festival and 362 days of doing.
Have you seen a shift in the way the audience receives Design Indaba’s creative offering over the years? Yes. Our audience has grown from 200 people when we started, to about 6,000 who will watch the conference this year at various locations around the world.
It was so heartening recently to hear the winning architect at the Africa Architecture Awards saying that his inspiration was Design Indaba, where he got to appreciate hybridity and learn that solutions lie at the intersections. The idea of learning what people do with product design, graphic design and landscape art helped him become a better architect.