4 reasons to attend Design Indaba this year

2019-02-10 00:01

Annual creative conference Design Indaba is back again. Though it takes place in Cape Town at the Artscape Theatre, this year there’ll be simulcasts of the speakers’ presentations in Joburg, Durban and Potchefstroom.

Here are four reasons you can’t miss this event:

1. A lit group of speakers

There are 32 creatives from industries across the board speaking at this year’s festival. We’re most excited to hear from visual artist Faith47; music legend Thandiswa Mazwai; Kenyan film maker Wanuri Kahiu; and Nigerien architect Mariam Kamara.

Mazwai will speak about her musical journey and unpack some of the things that have sustained her to this point in her life.

Look carefully enough and you will be sure to come across the work of Faith47 alongside Cape Town’s streets. Her murals and tags have helped elevate the graffiti art form locally so that it gets the recognition it deserves.

Replacing the “47” with Roman numerals and moving her base to Los Angeles, California, seem to have unfettered the artist’s choice of medium and allowed for her ever-more poignant explorations of the human condition away from the wall.


Kenya-born director, producer and author Kahiu will show up on most timelines in connection with Rafiki, a film that is perhaps as contentious in Kenya as it is lauded abroad.

Kahiu’s career extends back to 2008, when her first feature film, From a Whisper, was released. She is also widely know for her scriptwriting and as an author of literature for children. Kahiu will be talking about her Afrobubblegum brand of “fun, fierce and frivolous” African narratives.

Kamara believes that her role and the roles of other architects working on the continent goes far beyond copying models and ventures into the realm of defining an African modernity with a built environment that responds to uniquely African conditions.


Putting bricks and mortar behind her words, Kamara is a founding member of unite4design, the collective of architects behind the Niamey 2000 housing project in Niger, which is inspired by the precolonial cities of Timbuktu, Kano and Zinder.

2. The Li Edelkoort seminar

The colour of the season, the “it” shoe, that must-have bathroom accessory – who are the people who decide what we wear and how we decorate our homes; the people who decide trends?

Internationally renowned Dutch educator, curator and publisher Li Edelkoort is one of them. The trend forecaster extraordinaire returns to Design Indaba for a future-facing seminar on what to wear, where and how to live, and other major trends this year.


Recognised as one of the most influential names in forecasting trends for global behemoths, her list of previous clients includes Coca-Cola, Nissan, Siemens and L’Oréal. This year, one of the focus points for Edelkoort’s seminar will be cultural appropriation in the fashion industry, which promises to be a globally informed take on that universal yet personal cornerstone of the self-identity.

3. The Ikea collab unveiling

Two years ago, five designers from Swedish furniture brand Ikea teamed up with 10 designers, architects, artists and creatives from five African countries to collaborate on a limited edition collection called Överallt.

Focused on “modern urban rituals and the importance they play in the home”, the pieces were created by Issa Diabaté, Selly Raby Kane, Naeem Biviji and Bethan Rayner, Bibi Seck, Mariam Hazem and Hend Riad, Renee Rossouw, Sindiso Khumalo, Laduma Ngxokolo, Mikael Axelsson, Ina Vuorivirta, Kevin Gouriou, Johanna Jelinek and Hanna Dalrot.

Visitors in Cape Town can check out their beautiful creations on the first day of the festival at the Överallt pavilion on the piazza.

Maybe Ikea will open a branch in South Africa one day and we’ll be able to buy what it has to sell.


4. The emerging creatives

In an effort to give up-and-coming creatives exposure, Design Indaba partners with the department of arts and culture every year to create a platform for opportunity.

Design Indaba’s brochure says: “We showcase their work in an exhibition. Fifty of our emerging creatives from around the country are given the opportunity to exhibit at the festival in Cape Town to rub shoulders with established designers and like-minded newcomers to the scene.”

This year will showcase budding minds from industries including fashion, architecture and jewellery design.

  • The Design Indaba takes place from February 27 to March 1. Get tickets or


Kgahlego Kewana, one of this year's Emerging Creatives

Fashion by Kgahlego Kewana

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May 19 2019