Expansion: 2015 saw growth both in the scale of events and in the scope. While Design Indaba has grown year on year for the past 20 years, its inspirational TED-style conference and buyers expo of South African design has inspired a host of side events that extend the scope of design to include music, film and performance.
This year marked the second edition of the Guild International Design Fair with its impressive exhibition of collectable design including the Haas Brothers and Stephen Burks. Fine artists Kendell Geers and Conrad Botes expanded the range of their work into the design realm at Guild, however the Cape Town Art Fair also brought fine art onto the agenda with guest curator Roselee Goldberg of New York's Performa. The lofi underground event That Art Fair also announces the beginnings of an organic fringe economy, which will hopefully extend to design too in future editions.
Collaboration: The sharing of skills, creativity, resources and experiences was everywhere, from the opera by fine artist William Kentridge and ballet dancer Dada Masilo to the Haas Brothers’s joint venture with Monkeybiz and the launch of the Imbadu Collective of black designers including ceramicist Andile Dyalvane and knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo. Legworks also showed how graphic design can enter the living space with 20 flat-pack carry tables customised by local illustrators.
Africa is Rising: An unprecedented number of speakers from the African continent were on the Design Indaba Conference program, many of whom also showed their work at the Expo. Rather than the traditional African ethnic aesthetic, many of these designers worked in multidisciplinary collectives that engaged with urban realities.
The work displayed at the Design Network Africa stand at Guild similarly found crossovers between traditional craft and urban grittiness. A particularly striking collaboration came from Botswana-based Peter Mabeo and South African designer Porky Hefer, renowned for his weavers nest-inspired swings and loungers.
As these art and design events continued to cluster and accumulate in Cape Town over the last weekend in February, drawing masses of international media and buyers, the city will no doubt become more of a drawcard to designers across the continent.