Design Indaba Conference 2014: Day 1

We had quite the busy month here at the office, but when Design Indaba rolled around we made sure not to miss the action. Like last year, Rose and I divvied up the Design Indaba Conference sessions to allow both of us to experience a bit of conference magic. I attended the morning sessions of Day 1 and 2.

In years past, I found that scribbling down notes as the speakers were presenting can be quite distracting and I always struggle afterwards to collect my thoughts and condense all I’ve heard into a decent feedback article.

This year, I put down my pen and really listened… I took it all in. However, I still want to share some of the magic with you, our reader. I’ve therefore broken it down into favourite quotes, little bites of wisdom, from each of the speakers I had the privilege to listen to…

Chris Gotz:

Chris Gotz is the chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather South Africa. The witty and engaging Chris shared some of their amazing, award-winning ad campaigns – most of which left me with goosebumps and dabbing a teary eye (I’m not even kidding). This included the beautifully sentimental campaign bidding a fond farewell to the Citi Golf, S.A. best-selling car.

Volkswagen – Goodbye Citi – Case Study from Ogilvy & Mather South Africa on Vimeo.

“Children go to school and get their dreams scooped out of them to make space for the 9 times table.” – Chris Gotz at the Design Indaba Conference 2014

“When you look at your work and say ‘It’s ok’, it’s NOT ok…” – Chris Gotz on not settling for mediocrity

“Weird collisions in everyday life become accidental poetry that fuels our creativity.” – Chris Gotz explaining why it’s important to pay attention to the world around you.


Juliana Rotich:

Next up was Juliana Rotich of Ushahidi, a non-profit technology company, born in Africa, which specialises in developing free and open-source software for information collection, interactive mapping and data curation. Sounds quite heady, but the platform is an invaluable tool for individuals to share info concerning anything from disaster reports, political uprising and SOS requests, to hamburger hotspots.

Ushahidi: Creating a New Narrative from Ushahidi on Vimeo.

“Most use technology to define the function. Ushahidi uses function to drive technology.” – Juliana Rotich at the Design Indaba Conference 2014

“We need to invest in creative networks and open up the doors for others to connect.”

“The internet is a utility. Just like water and electricity.”- Juliana Rotich discussing BRCK, a new type of Internet modem designed by Ushahidi to withstand power cuts often experienced in Africa.


Experimental Jetset:

Amsterdam-based graphic design trio Experimental Jetset shared their “An Alphabet of Influences,” a captivating insight into how pop culture and established design[ers] inspires them and their creative process. It was obvious to see that Modernism, or rather Modernism[s] in all its various facets and phases, has strongly influenced Experimental Jetset’s designs.

Jeanne van Heeswijk

“The world is basically on fire…here we are scavenging the ruins of modernism hoping we might come across something valuable that changes the way people think.” – Experimental Jetset at the Design Indaba Conference 2014

“We actually hate Helvetica [the font]” – Danny van den Dungen of Experimental Jetset on the fear of being seen as a one-trick pony after their indirect involvement in the font’s cult status revival… by designing  the Helvetica documentary poster.


Jake Barton:

Media and interaction designer, Jake Barton, of Local Projects illustrated how they are using emotion and technology to reinvent museums, galleries and other public spaces. With the help of touch screens, sensors and cameras, Barton develops new and unforgettable ways for people to interact and engage with art, history and culture. Local Projects is currently working on the media and interactive design for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Alex Atala

“Start with yes. Make statements. There are no mistakes, only opportunities.” – Jake Barton on improvisation at the Design Indaba Conference 2014

“Nothing will age faster than new cutting-edge technology. The most important thing is to make meaning from it… If you tell an amazing story – that’s what will age well and people will return to year after year.” – Jake Barton on why technology without emotion is empty.



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