We’re in the dawn of one of the country’s most prominent gatherings of global creative talent with Design Indaba 2018 running from 21 to 24 February.

Having done away with their expo, the words “driving design for a better world” mean that Design Indaba’s more grown up self is all about motivating action and igniting innovation around how design can provide solutions. Today’s Design Indaba means big thinking and bone rattling inspiration, with the focus shifting from “think tank” to “do tank”.

Relative newcomer to the Festival, Nightscape offers a wider audience the opportunity to experience a spectrum of live talent in a vibrant, after-dark atmosphere. “There will be food trucks, a pop-up restaurant by chef Bertus Basson, film screenings, DJs, performances and exhibitions. All this has been created to give you a sensory experience to go with the cerebral conference offering,” says Ravi Naidoo. The Festival also includes perennial favourites Emerging Creatives and Most Beautiful Object in South Africa as well as the Film Festival.

The three day Conference will bring some of the hottest creative talent to Cape Town to talk and motivate the audience. Some of this year’s speakers include spatial Designer Morag Myerscough, future shaping architect and designer Neri Oxman; Dutch design activist Johannes Torpe and Africa’s darling, Cannes Lion Award winning filmmaker Sunu Gonera.

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.

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