Design Indaba 2013

Follow our live blog for the latest updates from selected sessions of this year’s Design Indaba.

5:26:13 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The audience is heading to the Inda-bar. That’s a wrap.

5:25:41 pm - Fri 1 Mar


5:23:52 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John has just wrapped with the observation that there is a public perception (backed by empirical evidence) that advertising standards have dropped. ‘It’s creative people who will make the change. You’ve got to take responsibility.’

5:18:04 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: How do you speak to contemporary audiences? Start an interesting conversation across mediums.

5:16:27 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: TV is having a golden age. An important consideration for client campaigns. An TV spot is being show for The Guardian. Brilliant, witty, memorable:

5:12:11 pm - Fri 1 Mar

We’re being shown an historic BBH Levi’s print campaign shot by Richard Avedon.

5:09:59 pm - Fri 1 Mar

We’ve just been taken through the evolution of a print ad into television, using Boddington’s as an example.

5:04:07 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: Humour is the enemy of authority.

5:02:56 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John is critiquing Benetton’s famously controversial Pieta and Newborn Baby campaigns as being too cynical. They went beyond irreverence

5:00:31 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Warhol was a great example of doing irreverence the right way.

4:58:27 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: There can be problems with irreverence. As communicators, we can’t just pull something down and put nothing positive back in its place.

4:57:26 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: We are presented with choice on an alarming level. Even something as simple as buying a pair of shoes. We, as communicators, need to find a way to make people look at what we’re doing, and not the other person. Irreverence forces you to think, to consider, and is therefore very powerful.

4:55:34 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Irreverence results in new thinking. It infects architecture too. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water House; The Guggenheim. The goes on with Gehry and the Bilbao

4:52:55 pm - Fri 1 Mar

We’re being taken through various eras of art and typography and culture expressed in mediums considered ‘irreverent’ for the times – from the Bauhaus to Elvis. Irreverence is challenging, which in turn inspires change and creativity and the new

4:45:57 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: Michelangelo was the ultimate art director: he disagreed with the client, he was late, and he came in over budget.


4:44:38 pm - Fri 1 Mar

A little bit of blasphemous humour – he’s just looked up for the lightning bolt.

4:42:46 pm - Fri 1 Mar

He’s giving us the dictionary definition of irreverence, and says that the phrase sums him up completely: cheeky, disrespectful, a complete lack of respect for the establishment…

4:40:22 pm - Fri 1 Mar

One of his fundamental influences has always been irreverence.

4:39:43 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: I don’t want you to think “Jesus Christ”, I need to go out there and get a creative philosophy. Hit Google! (Audience laughter).

4:38:30 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John: Creativity can be defined as an expression of self.

4:37:42 pm - Fri 1 Mar

John has constructed his talk around his creative philosophy. John: I don’t believe you can be a successful creator unless you have fundamental beliefs and feed those into your works. Your creative beliefs are fundamental to your success.

4:36:15 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Oh lord, it’s Mick Jagger meets Bill Nighy! Fabulous.

4:33:53 pm - Fri 1 Mar

We’re here. The last talk of the final day of the Design Indaba. We’re in the presence of advertising legend Sir John Hegarty so the conference is, appropriately, going out with a bang.

Sir John Hegarty is a creative and founder of Bartle Bogle Hegarty advertising. n the first two decades of BBH’s history, Hegarty was responsible for ground breaking campaigns for Levi’s. The now-famous phrase “Vorsprung Durch Technik” for Audi was coined by Hegarty and continues to be widely recognised. BBH now has offices in London, New York, Singapore, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles Shanghai and Mumbai with Hegarty overseeing the creative output of all these offices. Hegarty has won Gold at every industry awards including D&AD, Cannes and British Television. He has been awarded the D&AD President’s Award for outstanding achievement and was admitted to the US One Show Advertising Hall of Fame. He has also been voted as one of the most influential people in fashion, thanks to his work with Levi’s. In 2007 Hegarty was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to the advertising and creative industries. In June 2011, he launched his book Hegarty on Advertising – Turning Intelligence into Magic. In the same month, Hegarty was honoured for his creativity at the Cannes International Advertising Festival, being the first recipient of the inaugural Lion of St Mark’s Award.

4:14:22 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Final blog coming up in about 15 minutes – advertising guru Sir John Hegarty will close this year’s Indaba. There should be some good sound bytes so come back.

4:03:25 pm - Fri 1 Mar

A standing ovation for Adjaye.

4:02:45 pm - Fri 1 Mar

We have just seen a slide show of interior and exterior projections for the various spaces, ending in a space dedicated to Martin Luther King. Adjaye’s vision is extraordinary and emotive, extremely moving.

3:59:19 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Work is underway on the project and the site has been determined – it is where a slave market used to be. From Adjaye Associates website:  ’Physical references to America’s extensive and rich African heritage are made throughout the design; topping the entry-level porch are two superstructures, shaped liked crowns that are inspired by an African headdress’.

3:54:29 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Adjaye: We had to make a new kind of architecture for this museum.

3:53:38 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The final project being discussed is the Smithsonian National Museum of African American Culture and History (NMAACH).

3:52:43 pm - Fri 1 Mar

3:51:54 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The cantilevered structure is concrete and entirely clad in glass. White marble is the main material in the public spaces. There is also an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

3:49:09 pm - Fri 1 Mar

3:44:38 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The Moscow School of Management is being discussed. It is the first management institution on a scale of Harvard Business School and the likes.

3:40:05 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver. Gallery spaces have been designed with specific media in mind.

3:32:13 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Sorry, tech issues. We’re back.

We’re onto Public Projects.

3:22:43 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Despite its modernity, a few original foundations and walls have been retained and ‘framed’ as design features.

3:22:02 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The house was designed for an art collector and unfolds as a spatially complex series of interlocking spaces. The entrance is a gallery space – and you can literally drive a truck into the front door (to accommodate larger pieces of art being taken inside).

3:19:38 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Across the pond to New York. A fabulous carriage-house squashed between to two tall buildings.

3:18:40 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Adjaye created a live-work space for an artist. No interior materials other than glass and white concrete screed.

3:16:19 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Next project: Dirty House. The second house David ever made. It is located in the East End, a place heavy on industrial live-work spaces.

3:14:16 pm - Fri 1 Mar

There is a secret roof terrace for the couple to escape the heat in summer… and their children for a few moments.

3:13:17 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Architecture that expresses a humanity is important to Adjaye.

3:12:05 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The audience is being shown a private residential commission, The Sunken House.

3:11:17 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The ‘New Geographic’ map of Africa

3:09:51 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Adjaye is speaking about his journey that took place over 11 years documenting the architecture of Africa. According to Adjaye, the political map of Africa is the one that we have in our minds, but there is a ‘New Geographic’ map of Africa. Geography, culture and place are so inextricably linked. The Magreb; the Desert; The Sahel; The Forest; the Savanna and Grasslands, for example. Patterns can be seen, architecture that is connected by terrain, rather than geography.

3:00:57 pm - Fri 1 Mar

Adjaye Associates is dedicated to extensive research; experiments in product (furniture to emotive environments); the evolution of residential typologies; and public buildings.

2:59:00 pm - Fri 1 Mar

The Indaba is coming to a close, two speakers to go. Architect David Adjaye is coming up. Adjaye is the principal architect of Adjaye Associates, a global practice established in 2000. The firm has won a number of prestigious commissions, the biggest and most recent being the £160-million Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.  Adjaye’s projects currently include the 0-million commission to redesign the Smithsonian National Museum of African American Culture and History (NMAACH). Adjaye often collaborates with important contemporary artists and curators to create unique spaces for art. He was awarded the OBE for services to architecture in 2007 and currently holds a visiting professor post at Princeton University School of Architecture. He is a RIBA Chartered Member, an AIA Honorary Fellow, a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Since 2005 he has published numerous books on architecture and has also exhibited widely.  Over the course of 10 years, Adjaye has travelled and photographed each African capital city, which culminated in Urban Africa: David Adjaye’s Photographic Survey, a unique geo-cultural catalogue profiling the African city in a global context. Adjaye has co-presented and hosted a number of television series and radio programmes for the BBC. A documentary of his career so far is currently being planned.

9:58:27 am - Fri 1 Mar

That was mind expanding. Further reading, if you’re interested, is at

See you this afternoon at 2.30 for architect David Adjaye.

9:53:42 am - Fri 1 Mar

There’s a world of division that is seen between design and art with that of science, technology, engineering and math. Science and the humanities are both inherently creative – we should see a real value to opening up that divide.

9:49:16 am - Fri 1 Mar

Daisy: We need to use design to open up new areas of thought. We need to ask better questions rather than just solving problems. By asking better questions, we will have problems to solve that are better.

9:47:59 am - Fri 1 Mar

Food designers and scientists have collaborated to make cheese out of human bacteria. The future is here, and it stinks!

Daisy on the importance of bacteria: We are what we eat. But maybe, in a Synthetic Biology future, maybe we eat what we are.

9:45:29 am - Fri 1 Mar

Workshops between designers and scientists have been important in investigating the future of Synthetic Aesthetics

9:34:43 am - Fri 1 Mar

Here we go:

9:33:11 am - Fri 1 Mar

We’re being shown a video about the E.Chromi project. I’ll try to find a link.

9:31:28 am - Fri 1 Mar

The theory so far is by and large a fiction, but it’s a really useful fiction

9:30:05 am - Fri 1 Mar

The impact of Synthetic Biology is going to be cultural, political, economic…

9:25:55 am - Fri 1 Mar

We should be looking at how to apply Synthetic Biology to solve problems – alternatives to fuel, for example.

9:24:52 am - Fri 1 Mar

Daisy: Biology and life with it is becoming a 21st century material for design. Is synthetic biology a design discipline of the future? Maybe.

9:22:55 am - Fri 1 Mar

Daisy: Four months after I graduated as an architect I lost interest and started being interested in things like bacteria grown in jelly.

As one does.

9:21:19 am - Fri 1 Mar

Daisy: We keep repeating mistakes over and over again with design. We need to do more than just problem-solving with design. We need to make things better

9:19:54 am - Fri 1 Mar

Daisy is showing wasteful everyday items – plastic bags, bottled water, the energy-saving lightbulb are all examples of how engineering and design can take a problem and solve it, but give us bigger problems in the long term

9:16:25 am - Fri 1 Mar

It seems Daisy was raised, or spent part of her youth, in South Africa.

9:15:14 am - Fri 1 Mar

A few empty seats. Good party last night, apparently.

9:11:57 am - Fri 1 Mar

Good morning. It’s the final day of the Design Indaba Conference and in a few minutes Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg – or Daisy to her friends and colleagues – will begin with a talk that should be utterly captivating. Daisy is an artist, designer and writer investigating futures for design. She studied architecture at the University of Cambridge, design at Harvard University and MA Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, London. Working in unfamiliar spaces like synthetic biology, Ginsberg explores the implications of emerging technologies, seeking potential new roles for design within developing technologies. As Design Fellow on Synthetic Aesthetics, a project between Stanford University and the University of Edinburgh, Ginsberg has curated an international programme on synthetic biology, art and design since 2010, questioning how we might ‘design nature’. The project will be published by MIT Press in 2014. I’m hoping that she also speaks about her E. chromi project, a collaboration with an undergraduate team from Cambridge University that explored the following question: ‘What if bacteria could be used as a tool for detecting harmful elements in the environment for both humans and animals?’.

5:00:57 pm - Thu 28 Feb

One last word from Daan: The role of the designer and of creativity is needed more than ever.

And that’s a wrap. See you back here tomorrow.

4:59:11 pm - Thu 28 Feb

A standing ovation for Daan. He is amused!

4:58:35 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan: Reality is beautiful. But, we should be willing to go out there, to hack it, to engage ourselves in new types of making and imagination

4:56:22 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan: There should be a little bit Orwell with a little bit Da Vinci in every designer.

4:54:11 pm - Thu 28 Feb

A project for a Smart Highway that is in prototype stage in the Netherlands that will do away with street lights for a more sustainable road system: paints used for road-markings that glow in the dark and power up doing the day, for example. And graphics that change in colour based on temperature, indicating where the slippery spots on the road might be.

4:48:46 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Now we’re being shown a sustainable dance floor – where the kinetic movements of the dancers convert to electricity which makes the floor react (flashing lights Saturday Night Fever style) as well as powering other applications such as the DJ booth.

4:44:57 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan has just shown us a project initiated by the city of a Lyon, France, to ‘update’ some of its more historic buildings without physically altering their architecture or interiors. LOTUS 7.0 is a living wall composed of smart foils that fold open in response to human behavior. Walking past LOTUS, hundreds of aluminum foils unfold themselves in an organic way, the light highlighting areas of the building and details that one might have overlooked before.

4:39:36 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan is showing a beautiful series of images featuring LED lights that have been encased in crystals that grow around them. Biological engineering.

4:37:54 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan: Sharing information is part of our new economy.

4:37:33 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan says he is working on a new version for bankers that become transparent when you lie! Laughter and applause.

4:35:06 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan is showing images of the Intimacy 2.0 garments that turn more or less transparent in response to the wearer’s heartbeat. Intimacy 2.0 is made with leather and smart opaque e-foils that become increasingly transparent based on close and personal encounters with other people.Something of a sensual play, the garments basically respond to your elevated pulses by going transparent around the neckline.
Don’t wear this while you’re reading 50 Shades of Grey!

4:34:00 pm - Thu 28 Feb

DUNE was placed in a nondescript public tunnel – the reaction of the pedestrians who encountered it is pure delight.  Check out the video here:

4:32:08 pm - Thu 28 Feb

He is showing a video of his DUNE project – a public interactive landscape that interacts with human behavior. This hybrid of nature and technology is composed of large amounts of fibers that brighten according to the sounds and motion of passing visitors.

4:29:19 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan: I am a hippie with a business plan. * Laughter

4:28:57 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan: Technology has become our second skin.

4:27:57 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Daan is going to speak about the future of design – he is a believer in techno-poetry: where the world of innovation is merged with that of the imagination.

4:24:55 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Day two of the Design Indaba conference is about to wrap with a talk by Daan Roosegaarde – an artist and innovator interested in exploring the dawn of a ‘new nature’ evolving from technological innovations. Studio Roosegaarde is his design lab based in both Rotterdam and Shanghai, employing a team of designers and engineers. Roosegaarde has won the Dutch Design Award, Design for Asia Award and China’s Most Successful Design Award. He has been the focus of exhibitions at the Tate Modern, the National Museum in Tokyo, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and various public spaces in Rotterdam and Hong Kong.

2:46:26 pm - Thu 28 Feb

It might take a while for the audience to come out of our collective trance. See you back here around 4.10pm for the last speaker of today, Daan Roosegaarde.

2:43:26 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Incredible. I don’t think that anyone inhaled for the duration of the performance.

2:41:41 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Nicholas and the musicians have just left the stage. Lots of applause. Lights going up. Still applause. Oh, hang on, standing ovations.

2:40:35 pm - Thu 28 Feb

The stitch is important in his work – a metaphorical and literal stitching together, a rebuilding, of our ripped apart country.

2:36:22 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Hlobo: My work is very sexually charged.

2:36:03 pm - Thu 28 Feb

We are seeing images of the mythical Impundulu creature that he has interpreted in his work.

2:34:22 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Hlobo: I find Joburg a very inspiring city. It is why I stay there. Without Joburg, South Africa would be very different. And it’s not beautiful, so you really need to look to find the beauty.’

2:33:29 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Hlobo has emerged from the ‘cocoon’ gourd. It’s him who is doing the singing/chanting.

2:32:29 pm - Thu 28 Feb

It seems Hlobo had a complicated relationship with his mother. Much confusion about his culture. Conflict. The archetypal tortured artist?

2:29:35 pm - Thu 28 Feb

In the video we are being shown a piece of performance art by Hlobo in which he is suspended from the ceiling by a bed/hammock hybrid – a work that for him brings to mind memories of his brother

2:27:37 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Hlobo: ‘When I was a child I was an artist, even before I knew what an artist was. I was the one who would always ask to draw on the chalkboard, cats and pumpkins. Then it became more serious’.

2:26:30 pm - Thu 28 Feb

The text on screen is clearly taking the place of a live narrative. Hlobo: ‘I write and sketch with art’

2:25:33 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Haunting music, a gourd-shaped cocoon (white) has slowly descended onto the stage.

2:24:31 pm - Thu 28 Feb

A video is being shown, no audio, just subtitled text, Hlobo’s stream of consciousness. We see young Xhosa initiates, text describing the attitude towards these young men in society: ‘they are treated like dogs, basically’.

2:22:16 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Seems like we’re in for some performance art. Hlobo is being accompanied on stage by two jazz musicians, the auditorium is dark, just a voice singing.

2:20:48 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Hello again. We’re back after an extended lunch break during which the Design Indaba Expo was officially opened. I managed a whirlwind look-see, but if you’re in Cape Town this weekend it’s worth a visit.

Now for Nicholas Hlobo; a South African artist fast gaining an international reputation for his experimental use of materials. Hlobo is a Johannesburg-based artist. Born in Cape Town in 1975, Hlobo has a B Tech degree from the Wits Technikon, Johannesburg (2002). Designing sculptures which tend to provoke due to their structural illusions, Nicholas Hlobo has gained international recognition and a firm following. Working with a variety of materials, using rubber and ribbon as the main component, Hlobo creates truly unique and eye-catching pieces, which have led him to win many awards and exhibit at numerous exhibitions worldwide. Hlobo has had solo exhibitions at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo (2011), in the Level 2 Gallery at Tate Modern, London (2008), and at the Boston ICA as part of theMomentum series (2008), among other institutions.

12:26:09 pm - Thu 28 Feb

This was the highlight of the conference so far. Alex’s new cookbook is launching now in the foyer. I’m off!

See you back here at 1.50 for Nicholas Hlobo.

12:24:50 pm - Thu 28 Feb

The woman next to me and I have tears. The word inspiring is so overused, but here, there’s nothing else to say.

12:24:03 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Alex: This is a dish of ants with pineapple, lightly frozen. I didn’t do anything here. God is the chef. We must respect.

Audience is going crazy!

12:21:50 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Alex: Our relationship with food must be reviewed. We need to use the entire animal. This is respect.

The audience applauds.

12:20:40 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Alex: We throw away lots of good food. Less than 1% of a whole cattle goes to the restaurant.

12:19:33 pm - Thu 28 Feb

It’s all about cultural norms, perceptions.
Alex: Sometimes to be creatives, you must put your first concepts away.

12:17:54 pm - Thu 28 Feb

We’re moving onto insects as a food source. Local Amazonian ants that taste like lemongrass.

12:17:10 pm - Thu 28 Feb

A depressing clip of the rainforest being destroyed, deforestation, fire… A subject close to his heart, of course.

12:15:47 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Watching the ‘making of’ videos of the creation of a various dishes is a real ‘wish you were here moment’. We’ll check later if there are any links to view them. It’s food porn deluxe, that’s all I’m saying.

12:13:20 pm - Thu 28 Feb

A green papaya dessert with green papaya, frozen Amazonian fruit, served with frozen yoghurt powder. A completely (and deliberately) colourless dish. Beautiful.

12:11:06 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Alex: Sometimes creativity is two steps forward, one behind.

12:08:35 pm - Thu 28 Feb

More food videos, showing some of the dishes at D.O.M. Manically exciting. This particular dish uses manioc (cassava), highly poisonous if not cooked correctly. The audience laughs… nervously.

12:05:35 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Another video: inspired by and designed to represent and impart the ‘flavour and fragrance’ of the burning of the Amazon rainforest.

Never mind Protest Art, this is Protest Food!

12:03:39 pm - Thu 28 Feb

His restaurant, D.O.M, only does tasting menus. A video is being screened about secondary flavours and being playful. For example, one gets three glasses of water with your meal, each differently flavoured.  All designed to evoke a sensation and sense of surprise.

12:01:03 pm - Thu 28 Feb

Alex is relating a story about the duality of interpretation: how, when his sons come home from soccer practice and take off their shoes, it’s the most vile smell. But it brings to mind (and nose) the cheese that he uses in his restaurants. Sensory associations, depending on the context, can be incredible or ‘fucking disgusting’.

11:57:47 am - Thu 28 Feb

Alex: Take the BBQ flavour and scent – it is one of the oldest most primitive associations we have. It is the human key. Something that links us all. Even vegetarians!

11:56:04 am - Thu 28 Feb

Alex: Old ideas can be more intelligent, exciting and modern than new ideas.

11:54:16 am - Thu 28 Feb

Alex: Creativity for a chef is not to do something that no one has  done before. It’s to do something really surprising. There is a difference

11:51:56 am - Thu 28 Feb

Up on stage with him is acclaimed South African chef Margot Janse to ‘help him with his English’. Sounds perfectly articulate to me.

11:50:30 am - Thu 28 Feb

Aw bless. He’s nervous!

11:48:59 am - Thu 28 Feb

We’re back. The delegates are all fuelled up, both by the coffee and pastries as well as three morning sessions that have been visually stimulating, entertaining and though-provoking. Alex Atala is about to talk. Here’s his bio:

Atala is an acclaimed Brazilian chef whose work is concerned with traditional food using native ingredients. His Sao Paolo restaurant, D.O.M., opened in 1999, is much lauded for changing the history of modern Brazilian cuisine. For the past seven years D.O.M. has been listed in the top 50 of the world’s best restaurants by the U.K. based Restaurantmagazine. In January 2009, he opened a second restaurant, Dalva e Dito, focusing on Brazilian heritage dishes based on home recipes. Atala is a champion of local ingredients like acaipupunha and cupuacu. His ambition is to promote Brazilian produce on an international scale with the hopes that, given time and the development of sustainable farming strategies, palm hearts and acai berries become as commonplace as pasta or blueberries in store cupboards throughout the world.  Atala has also worked with scientists and anthropologists to discover and classify foods and document new products from the Amazon region, with minimum impact on both forest and people.

11:45:03 am - Thu 28 Feb

Hi from the second day of the Design Indaba conference. If you’re here for the live blog to read about chef Alex Atala, things are running a little late. Time to make a quick cuppa or watch that (short) YouTube video. See you in two.

5:37:07 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John’s wrapping up by saying that designers can always be trusted to do the right thing. Lots of applause, and we’re out of here until tomorrow. The crowd will be heading to the Design Inda-bar for a few drinks and some serious tunage to kick off the Design Indaba Music Circuit.

5:34:34 pm - Wed 27 Feb

The talk has ended to enthusiastic applause.

5:33:08 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Organisations have evolved into organisms. A metaphorical way to imagine it is that we cannot approach organisations as the pyramid structure anymore; they are more like an octopus. Its eight tentacles have the ability to do things on their own; they don’t have to ask the brain for permission.

5:26:52 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John is discussing the challenges of leadership. Ironically, with more connectivity, we are less connected on a human level

5:21:59 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Design and designers, in the context of advancing technology, is essential. Art education needs to be pushed into innovation. It begins with acknowledgment and support from government.

5:15:34 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John: A traditional leader wants to be right. A creative leader is optimistic. They hope to be right.

5:14:38 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John: Creative leadership loves to learn from mistakes. A traditional leader loves to avoid mistakes.

5:13:43 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John: Things have become more chaotic because of the reduction of the hierarchy. We’ve become a heterarchy.

5:12:03 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John is discussing various forms of leadership. ‘There’s an easy way to lead, he says. ‘It’s called being a dictator’. But John says his ultimate ‘Sex and the City’ question is ‘how do creative people lead?’. He’s discussing another influential book in his life: Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon Mackenzie.

5:08:04 pm - Wed 27 Feb

More laughs: John feels ‘tied’ to Barack Obama as he became president of the Rhode Island School of Design at the same time as Barack Obama became president of the USA.

5:07:01 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Funny guy, this John: ‘A few years ago I was a tenured professor. Basically a professor who doesn’t have to work anymore!’

5:06:02 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Another book he recommends: John Gardiner, On Leadership

5:05:05 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Two tomes that influenced John in his early years: Lisp Machine Manual and the Bauhaus

5:02:52 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John is discussing his book, Design By Numbers, an introduction to how programming works. ‘Programming is not very complicated. It’s just very boring’.

5:01:37 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Funny anecdotes about Paul Rand. Paul’s response to a question of John’s in the mid-90s as to what is bad design? ‘A bad design is superficial, pretentious. Basically like all the design you see out there today!’

4:57:30 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John is speaking about the designer who created the IBM logo, Paul Rand, reminiscing about his human, soft side.

4:53:36 pm - Wed 27 Feb

John: You have to have a mix of the serious and the jackass to synthesize true culture.

4:52:57 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Ha! John has just said that to follow dancing sperm is really hard. Someone needs to put that on a t-shirt.

4:50:23 pm - Wed 27 Feb

And there is the beauty of the Design Indaba… That you can segue from a music video featuring dancing sperm (presented by creative director Masashi Kawamura) to the last speaker on the programme, John Maeda. In all it’s been great first day at the conference. Perhaps a little less rock ‘n roll than a couple of previous opening days that I recall, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

So back to John Maeda, president of the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. As an artist, graphic designer, computer scientist and educator, Maeda was named one of the 75 most influential people of the 21st century by Esquire and has been dubbed the ‘Steve Jobs of academia’ by Forbes magazine. His work is focusses on integrating technology, design and leadership into a 21st -century synthesis of creativity and innovation. His Twitter feed, @johnmaeda, was recognised as one of TIME Magazine’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011.

4:37:31 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Running a little late at Design Indaba. Hold tight for some insight from John Maeda, the last speaker of the day

2:29:33 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Oscar done. That was quick! Would loved to have heard more about the Tube Toys range and seen the finished products from the 10×10 project. I guess that’s what Google is for.  See you at 4.15 for John Maeda.

2:24:13 pm - Wed 27 Feb

His work pushes the boundaries of merging traditional and modern technology

2:23:13 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Another collaborative conceptual project, for an airliner: the shapes of knives, forks and spoons were cut out of plastic bottles, coated in copper, then again in tin to make them resistant to wear & tear and food acidity. Beautiful.

2:15:41 pm - Wed 27 Feb

He spent two months visiting  the store for objects for the project – to the point that certain customers thought he worked there and used to ask him where they could find specific things

2:12:51 pm - Wed 27 Feb

We’re being shown a photograph of the inside of the discount store where Oscar was sourcing a cheap object to redesign. One mother of an ugly plastic lemon squeezer…

2:11:31 pm - Wed 27 Feb

He visited a one Pound shop in his London neighborhood to find everyday objects to incorporate into the project. Oscar: ‘I like the simplification of a transaction for an object that costs one Pound’.

2:09:20 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Now Oscar is speaking about another project: 10×10 – ten objects in ten days

2:08:21 pm - Wed 27 Feb

The material (the paper) is like a sponge, collecting the ink and dispersing it to ‘colour’ the numbers, words or imagery, almost bringing the paper to life

2:07:21 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Oscar Diaz’s tube toys, which incorporate the packaging into the product.

2:04:57 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Oscar is relating his work on a calendar for an exhibition using paper and ink that react to the temperature outside. Colour reacts to the changes in the barometer, representing a more physical manifestation of the progression of time

2:00:29 pm - Wed 27 Feb

Apologies for the delay. Wretched wi-fi! But Oscar is on stage. He’s just starting speaking about a project involving sugar cubes…

1:46:02 pm - Wed 27 Feb

We’re back. And running a bit late, but not by much. Decks are currently being spun onstage as the post-lunch audience streams into the auditorium. Next up is Oscar Diaz. Here’s the lowdown:
Oscar Diaz is a product designer interested in understanding, exploring and questioning objects. Diaz studied art in Spain and design at the Ecole de Beaux Arts de Bordeaux in France. After working for designer Matali Crasset in Paris, he enrolled in the Design Products MA at the Royal College of Art in London, under the direction of Ron Arad. In addition he worked briefly in Japan, designing furniture, before returning to London to establish his own practice in 2007. Plain and playful, Diaz’s objects draw inspiration from the everyday things, which by a simple twist become something unexpected. Diaz’s clients include MUJI, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Terra Plana, Veuve Clicquot and Phillips de Pury. Displaying a playful edge often seen in his work, Diaz’s Tube Toys range uses the packaging as an integral part of assembling the toys and was inspired by the phenomenon of children being as intrigued by the packaging of their toys as the toy itself.

10:08:34 am - Wed 27 Feb

See you back here at 1.30pm for the presentation by Oscar Diaz.

10:06:47 am - Wed 27 Feb

A question for Paula from the audience: ‘What happens if you just are faced with a situation and are drawing a blank?’
Paula: ‘Usually if I’m drawing a blank it’s because I’ve done the job a million times before. Or I’ve just got up and don’t have a brain in my head that day. And let’s be honest, we all have those days. And sometimes they go on for six months! But the real killer for me is repetition… Where I know what the client wants, what they’re going to say.’ According to Paula, the great work comes when the challenges are so great and one is so out of your comfort zone that the solution requires a real breakthrough. Discomfort can result in great inspiration, it would seem.

Paula has just finished. Good start to the Indaba.

10:01:11 am - Wed 27 Feb

The furniture is customized with type, signage has been punched-out into the walls, the donors wall is a series of elevated ‘bricks’ rather than a typical plaque.
Paula: It’s type city in there!

9:59:43 am - Wed 27 Feb

A project close to Paula’s heart is redesigning the identity for The Public – a theatre in New York. She has redesigned it three times already, although each time has been so subtle that no-on really notices

9:57:27 am - Wed 27 Feb

A current project is designing signage for a subway system for Tel Aviv. Creating 3 dimensional structures that can be used in a variety of ways – to show information, as seating, for shelter…

9:54:18 am - Wed 27 Feb

Paula is describing how she designed the new Windows 8 logo for Microsoft.

9:50:28 am - Wed 27 Feb

Maps as murals. (Paula Scher)

9:46:41 am - Wed 27 Feb

Paula is showing an incredible mural for a public school in Queens of maps, painted onto massive tiles and installed on several feature walls and in public areas such as hallways and stairwells. How inspiring for students to be surrounded by art at every turn

9:41:09 am - Wed 27 Feb

Images showing the use of type on buildings (public schools) as a creative and more affordable design solution

9:40:14 am - Wed 27 Feb

Paula is showing images of a small, run-down building for the arts in New Jersey that she was asked to consult on. No budget to renovate led to a Photoshop job that was rendered onto the building exactly as it looked digitally. It has never had any graffiti sprayed on it – unlike many of the surrounding buildings

9:37:53 am - Wed 27 Feb

Paula: Creativity is a small defiant act of misbehaving.

9:36:33 am - Wed 27 Feb

Paula is live! Says D.I is her favourite conference of all of them.

9:35:59 am - Wed 27 Feb

Paula about to take the stage. If you’re interested and have some time later, you can check out videos of some of her other talks at design conferences around the world on

9:33:32 am - Wed 27 Feb

The line-up being introduced. We can look forward to speakers from all ages and disciplines. Quite literally from a teenager to an octogenarian.

9:27:42 am - Wed 27 Feb

Interesting: the Design Indaba is being live broadcast to four venues across SA: Joburg, PE, Durban and Cape Town. Pretty cool – spreading the creative love.

9:19:59 am - Wed 27 Feb

The MC’s are introducing the event at the moment.

9:16:23 am - Wed 27 Feb

Good morning from the Cape Town International Convention Centre. We’re blogging from the Design Indaba Conference. While we wait for things to kick off, a little bit about the first speaker of the day: Paula Scher.

Scher studied at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia and began her graphic design career as an art director at Atlantic and CBS Records in the 1970s. In 1984 she co-founded Koppel & Scher, and in 1991 she joined Pentagram Design as a partner. She is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame and won the prestigious Chrysler Award for Innovation in Design in 2000. Scher has developed identity and branding systems, promotional materials, environmental graphics, packaging and publications for a wide range of clients, creating images that speak to contemporary audiences with emotional impact and appeal.

Okay, here we go…

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