design indaba festival 2019 preview: activism takes center stage

design indaba festival 2019 preview: activism takes center stage

design indaba 2019the annual conference bringing together internationally-acclaimed architects, designers, emerging talents, critics, and art enthusiasts, dedicated towards showing how creativity can make a better world, returns next month. the festival brings with it a crop of international speakers, 20 of which have already been announced, whilst exposing 50 ‘emerging creatives’ from south africa, helping them to launch their careers and learn from experts in the field. 


the multi-sensory event takes place in the artscape theater center, a hub that for the last four decades has served the cape’s performing arts, film, tourism, entertainment, conference, and exhibition industries. in keeping with its ethos – a better world through creativity – the upcoming conference promises to inspire design activism through compelling presentations that combine career-changing insights and cutting-edge work. over the 3-day event, international speakers and young creatives will provide insights and share their experiences, ideas, leadership and design strategies.

design indaba festival 2019 preview: activism takes center stage

portrait of alice rawsthorn
images courtesy of design indaba unless stated otherwise



the first 20 speakers already announced include: john pawson, architectural designer; ane crabtree, costume designer of award-winning shows like westworld and  handmaid’s tale; alice rawsthorn, design critic and the author of design as an attitude and hello world: where design meets life; wanuri kahiu, director of the critically-acclaimed kenyan film rafiki; yuri suzuki, sound artist, designer, and electronic musician; kagiso lediga, stand-up comedian, actor, writer, and director; kiko farkas, award-winning brazilian graphic designer; annabelle selldorf, the principal of selldorf architects, a 70-person architectural design practice, along with many other outstanding creative minds.

design indaba festival 2019 preview: activism takes center stage

pawson will present his architectural and interiors projects, which include the design museum in london,



world-renowned forecaster of future fashion and design trends li edelkoort will return once again for design indaba festival 2019 to present her annual trend seminar. this year the acclaimed speaker will be discussing key topics like cultural appropriation in fashion & how to cure ‘colourphobia’ in interiors.

design indaba festival 2019 preview: activism takes center stage

image courtesy of li edelkoort



design indaba has also worked on a new public pavilion with designer es devlin which launched ahead of the festival, exploring how the electric period in transport history will leave its mark. commissioned by mercedes benz, devlin has created an immersive piece, zoetrope, which makes a map of cape town using 12 points that express the geographic and demographic range of life within 100km radius of the site. featuring an underwater kelp forest and rooftop football match, to choral groups and solar power installers, devlin worked with south african film-makers to capture the various references. these were then edited into 12 one-minute films that form the narrative inside the zoetrope.

design indaba festival 2019 preview: activism takes center stage

zoetrope: a new sculptural work by es devlin – conceived as a 12 minute labyrinthine ambulatory pause in a journey
image and thumbnail images courtesy of es devlin



rapid advances in lithium battery technology are extending the periods of travel and diminishing the durations of charging stops at an exponential rate. how should we approach the network of electric vehicle charging stations that is set to emerge all over the globe? how should we spend our time while we wait for our electric vehicles to recharge mid journey?’ asks devlin.


meanwhile, designer daniel ting chong has developed a campaign for design indaba based around AI which has influenced the look and feel of the entire festival. ting chong, who was born, raised and studied in cape town, imagines a future where neurons and silicon collaborate, in response to dystopian scenarios imaging a world overrun by machine. 

design indaba festival 2019 preview: activism takes center stage

image via @danieltingchong



design indaba 2019 takes place at the artscape theatre centre in cape town from 27 february to 1 march. tickets are available to book online. for more information, visit the design indaba website.





design indaba
is a multifaceted platform committed to a better world through creativity. the south-african online publication hosts an annual festival and social impact do tank in cape town. the design indaba festival has been created by ravi naidoo in 1995, with focus on african and global creativity, through the lens of the work and ideas of leading thinkers and doers, opinion formers, trendsetters and industry experts.

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