Right after the big Design Indaba conference has come to an end (a full write up about what that is and who was participating here on PingMag) – one is all inspired and pumped up with new ideas, thoughts on design, how to change one’s own practice, life or even the planet… but no time to drift away and go home yet! Also running at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 23rd to 25th of February, the Design Indaba Expo takes you from listening to design to touching and experiencing the best of local design, ranging from ceramics and furniture to fashion, architecture, advertising and film. Some 20 000 visitors, including countless international retail buyers, and the long queues at the door proved that there was a lot of interest – locally and internationally. Here is what PingMag selected from the great variety of South Africa’s freshest designs.
Written by Uleshka
The “Indaba culture” is one of sharing, revelation and wonder, which creates a space where questioning and challenging become possible. The more people are exposed to innovative and creative ideas, the more significant the impact and contribution of creativity and design will have on the economy. This is particularly relevant in South Africa.
Zahira Asmal, brand manager
The ‘Egg Man’ – a true icon of Cape Town dancing and smiling around the exhibition stalls.
Detail of the giant egg sculpture he wears on his head. He told me that it keeps growing bigger and bigger!
Here, our ‘Egg Man’ took a break from his heavy decoration for a bit. Impressive that he balances this tower on his head without any further attachments.
The first thing you noticed when entering the Indaba Expo was the legendary Cape Town ‘Egg Man’. Nobody quite knows why he dresses and runs around like that, but everyone loves and supports him with whatever change one has available. Although usually wandering through the streets of Cape Town – for the Design Indaba Expo he smiled at every visitor shaking his bells and singing a made-up ‘Desiiiiiign Indabaaaa’ song at the entrance and throughout the exhibition. A great individualistic and certainly strongly local impact to start off with!
The Indaba Expo was simply stuffed with ideas! A main stage in the centre of the hall had a full program of performances, film screenings and fashion shows running one after the other. The colorful stalls were overflowing with things to show and try out. And amongst the happy and relieved exhibitors were countless curious guests, students, locals, press and other fortunate visitors like me who were grateful to be there enjoying the opportunity to buy the freshest possible designs on the spot.
Most Beautiful Object in South Africa
Having such a rich selection to choose from, Jurgen Bey, also a speaker at the Design Indaba Conference, was officially destined for choosing the most of all beautiful objects in South Africa. From a preselection of 15 designs, he chose the condom applicator designed by Roelf Mulder of …XYZ Design. The condom applicator got also selected for the permanent collection of the MOMA in New York.
There certainly is beauty and fun in the design of this lifesaver looking applicator, but personally I find that the most beautiful thing about this product is its message. (Seriously – how could a condom itself ever be beautiful? There must be something else beyond this sluggish piece of rubber…)
The fact, that it is possible for such an unromantic product and the ever urgent issue of AIDS to be addressed to in the context of design and beauty, is a true move forward (Thanks here to Jurgen for giving this the highest priority and most possible exposure!)
Opening up for safe, carefree and rosy red love again – these quick-to-apply condoms are now distributed by Pronto Condoms. You can watch their impressive how to use it demo or enjoy a little piss-take ad on South Africa’s health minister showing a demo with a real carrot here! There is no faster way to get it on!
Furniture and life style products
Although there was a big variety of all sorts of design at the expo, furniture, crafts and fashion were definitely prevailing!
Haldane Martin – responsible local designs
Also presenting on Design Indaba’s big stage, South Africa’s hot designer Haldane Martin talked about how he designs using local materials and craft techniques to create a contemporary South African furniture style (…that would also look beautiful in any spacious Japanese house…)
Although known best outside Africa for his ZuluMama chair, all of his works are utterly beautiful and take responsibility as a designer for addressing environmental, sustainable issues and creating and an economic empowerment of the local crafters.
Another great project Haldane has just been working on is a shelf system called New Slant.
New Slant is a very clever modular book shelving system. The individual slanted boxes are attached by each other with magnets. This allows one to playfully build an endless variety of subtly undulating configurations.
This Design Indaba project for disabled artisans of Carecraft was made possible with funding from the Department of Arts and Culture, South Africa. Well done!
Team Two – Willow Lamps
Eco-architect Adam Hoets meets jewellery designer Sian Eliot and – voilà – create a Willowlamp.
Willow Lamp by Team Two
Willow Lamp by Team Two
This stunning big but light chandelier type lamp won the SA Elle Decoration lightning award in 2006 and many visitor’s hearts at this year’s Indaba. If only houses were slightly bigger in Japan…
Renato Correia – Weaver Bird nests
A local taste is certainly what refreshed people most at the Indaba Expo. Renato Correia’s table lamps look just like a bird’s nests suspended in reeds and bushes and might just add that little bit of South African feel to your bedroom table to dream on about Cape Town nights…
Heath Nash – finds beauty in other people’s rubbish
PingMag favorite Heath Nash’s booth at the expo was one of the most colorful and lively ones. Although known for recycling and reusing materials where ever he can, it is hard to believe that Heath’s beautiful products are actually made of trash!
one of his finished Flower Ball lamps
Heath Nash at his stand
Heath also gave a talk at the Design Indaba conference where he showed his paper folding experiments to a large crowd for the first time. The audience was simply shocked to see what objects he could create out of a flat sheet material. We will certainly hear more from Heath in the future, and if he ever manages to produce any of these folding experiments, believe me, you – will want one!
JOOM – bouncing around in African style
JOOM have quite a range of products playing with the South African animal theme. The visitor’s favorite at the exhibition was this friendly wooden Springbuck.
I remember I always wanted one of these spiral jumpy animals from the playground when I was a child – but of couse there weren’t any available. Good to know that I wasn’t the only one! This slender wooden springbuck might just be the perfect toy for grownup design kids…
Afro Coffee – coffee culture revolution
Afro Coffee’s coffee
Afro Coffee’s mad double wine bottle pack wrapped as portable cardboard radio – AND IT REALLY WORKS!
The guys from Afro Coffee were just the best! Starting out with their own Afro Cafe on Church Street, Cape Town, selling – mainly – coffee, they went on designing the tables, table cloths, interior… bridging over to making tea as well and selling fabrics, fashion and other fun products. I won’t tell you too much right now (hint hint) but Afro is more than just coffee for sure – it is a stunning freeze frame of what the continent has to offer.
Coffee is Black, and Black is back.
Switching over from products to books – Bell-Roberts is one of South Africa’s leading art galleries and publishing houses. Art South Africa magazine or Itch, next to various interesting sounding book titles were exhibited at the expo. Here is what PingMag discovered at their stand:
The Beautiful Struggle – Mlamli Figlan and Per Englund
The Beautiful Struggle by Mlamli Figlan and Per Englund
A peep into ‘The Beautiful Struggle’ – what is life, culture and fashion in the energetic townships like? Have a look!
While Shack Chic focusses on housing, The Beautiful Struggle is a wonderful, touching and positive book (distributed in South Africa by Bell-Roberts) about life, struggle and style in the townships of Cape Town today. Mlamli Figlan, born in Guguletu, one of the oldest townships of Cape Town, collaborated closely with Swedish documentary and fashion photographer Per Englund. While Mlamli was acting as interpreter, guide and problem solver, together they made a book out of their photographs of fashion and street culture and conducted many interviews in various of Cape Town’s townships between 2002 and 2006. Beautiful, touching and real.
Zulu Sushi – Peter Engblom
Zulu Sushi – what if a black man would have discovered Japan?
Zulu Sushi – Sumo and Zulu
Especially coming from Japan to South Africa, this book simply made me laugh. Based on the funny idea of a black man discovering and conquering Japan instead of whites long ago, this book is the fictive Diary of Mpunzi Shezi – illustrating lots of odd made-up situations in long ago Japan. Perfect for a relaxing laugh and a bit of fantasizing!
Fun on fabrics
Cute characters by MEU
Although Japanese cuteness is hard to top, here were some refreshing, cute African illustrations and characters to adore at the expo…
T-Shirt motifs to make you laugh
South Africa certainly has a lot of controversial things to talk about – from its recent past to the very present. Laugh It Off – just as the name suggests – deals with it in the most progressive way: just laugh about it and move on!
Although sued badly for their Black Labour t-shirt design by South African Breweries, they still keep smiling, knowing that the whole of South Africa is behind them – at least mentally! Loads of extra info, Africa insights and piss-take on huge corporations on their website. Worth checking out for a big laugh with a lot of shocking truth.
Arts and Crafts
The arts and crafts sector in South Africa has a long tradition, a strong base with lots of up and coming contemporary crafters creating stunning deco and fashion goods. As we wrote in our article about the Cape Craft & Design Institute (CCDI) – there is certainly a lot going on in this field. The CCDI has a bit of a special role here, since it really offers a place for artisans to meet, share their knowledge and develop new products. Teamed up with MIT’s latest FabLab technology, the CCDI encourages local crafters and designers and assists them by providing access to a range of off-the-shelf, industrial grade fabrication and electronics tools that they can use to test their designs before introducing them to market.
They had a little ‘public FabLab’ at the expo, so that, for the first time, FabLab offered free assistance and advice to expo visitors, staffed by a team of instructors and technical university educators.
“We’ll have all the desktop equipment at the expo, so visitors will be able to experience a FabLab in action,” said Karen van Breukelen, acting manager of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Strategy for the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
The Cape Craft & Design Institute’s stand was a powerful selection of the finest in deco articles, furniture and skillfully crafted lifestyle products with masterpieces such as Willard Musarurwa’s wire table.
Woza Moya – beads and more
For many struggling in South Africa, moving into crafts is the only hope and possibility for a sustainable income.
This was at the stand of Woza Moya, an income generating project of the Hillcrest AIDS centre trust.
Beaded necklace by Nokuthula Phewa which looks a bit like lined up colorful anemones. Lovely!
Woza Moya is a self-help group of people infected or affected by AIDS, offering anything from home-based care to education, income generating, school fee fund… They had a beautiful booth at the Indaba Expo mainly focussing on beadwork. Scroll down to see how local skillfully crafted products fuse with contemporary African fashion design.
Now to the last of our expo categories – but certainly one of the strongest ones – FASHION! I already mentioned the countless wild fashion shows happening throughout the expo days in the beginning of this article. Although I couldn’t see them all – here is what I discovered!
Sway – patterns, textiles, fashion
Sway Textiles combines extraordinary silkscreen prints with uncomplicated garment designs to produce comfortable, everyday clothing. Available at selected fashion boutiques in Gauteng, Cape Town and Melbourne – these funky patterns shouldn’t take long to make it to Tokyo (one hopes…).
Sway T-shirt silkscreen print detail
Sway logo tab on a jacket
Sway flamingo tees
A happy Sway designer at her stand!
Darkie – proudly African
Darkie clothes are a bit of a cult it seems… This was the stand where the best people would meet at the expo. Fashion designer Themba Mngomezulu creates Cape Town’s hottest cuts and motifs – that always come with Darkie’s trade mark: an Afro comb for men or women.
current fashion line for women – denim jacket front
denim jacket back
Craig Native didn’t actually have a stand at the Indaba Expo, but a very loud and excellent fashion show. An incredibly beautiful singer on the stage was dressed in a long skirt saying ‘BUSHMEN’ on her chest, two break dancers were firing the crowds while two other musicians in the back went crazy playing contrabass and violin – all dressed in ‘Native’. Powerful!
Native’s fashion show – what a sexy singer in a green ‘Bushmen’ dress!
Native’s current collection – awesome hoody!
Now there were many many more fashion designers with breathtaking collections – two more to finish off and let you go for today!
Karen Monk-Klinjstra’s outfit – notice the colorful dresses paired with local crafters’ bracelets and necklaces
Stoned Cherrie – African-urban design from Johannesburg
Hope you had a good journey through the Indaba Expo!