Design Indaba Conference 2013: Day 2

Rose and I could not wait one more day to tell you all about our AMAZING Design Indaba Conference experience this year. I will be sharing my thoughts on Day 2 of the conference with you first, as Rose is currently quite busy with some urgent design work and has not find the time to scribble down her impressions of Day 1.

Steven Heller:

Day 2 of the conference kicked off with Steven Heller – an art director, journalist, critic, editor and author who served as art director at the New York Times for 33 years.

Heller has also written a whopping 150 books (…and counting) on graphic design and popular culture themes! His wife, designer Louise Fili, even joking said that when she entered the industry years ago she struggled to find graphic design-related info as “there were no reference books on design history because Steve Heller hadn’t written them yet!

A small view into Heller’s collection library – a “cave” his wife refuses to enter! | Image via Visi

An avid Collector, Heller passionately gathers everything from razors to triptychs, posters, letterheads, rare books & magazines, propaganda material, figurines, and other period-based symbols of pop culture and counter-culture. In this, he attempts to chronicle the history of Graphic Design.

“I like to think of my collection as an archaeological dig and I’ve discovered the remnants of commercial culture,” Heller said. “I collect because I am, because it’s there, and because it will lead to things that would hopefully have an impact on other people”


Louise Fili:

Raised in an Italian household where most, if not all, social activity and conversation revolved around the kitchen table, the transition to food packaging and restaurant identities seemed the perfect fit for graphic designer Louise Fili. To this day Italy still serves as her greatest inspiration – not only in typography but also in gastronomy.

Fili has authored and co-authored over a dozen books, many of them with her husband, the design historian Steven Heller – jeez, talk about a creative power couple!

She was art director of Pantheon Books from 1978 to 1989, where she designed over 2000 book jackets. She even added her own creative touch to boring copyright pages – a practice that was frowned upon.

Fili prefers the graceful charm of vintage typography in eras-passed and uses letterpress wherever possible stating that it offers a tactility that is appetising.

“You do not have to shout to be noticed. A design can be quietly beautiful and still grab attention. I prefer subtle and elegant typographic solutions to more boisterous graphic displays.”


Jeanne van Heeswijk:

Jeanne van Heeswijk calls herself a visual artist specialising in interaction design… yet she is so much more that that. She is a social cheerleader, a catalyst for community transformation and change. She enters struggling communities and neighbourhoods, gets on her soapbox (sometimes literally), and asks the hard questions – often creating a public brainstorming session with local passers-by. So doing she motivates inhabitants to take action and become a shaping force in their own neighbourhoods.

I was immediately reminded of South Africa’s own community upliftment and social involvement initiative, LEADSA. Like VISI commented: “(Jeanne) spoke directly to something South Africans could identify with: how to inspire communities to take back their neighbourhoods.” We must be the change we want to see.Jeanne van Heeswijk

“The artist / designer has to decide: ‘Who do I serve? Can I be an instrument? What can I contribute to society?'” ~ Jeanne van Heeswijk (Design Indaba Conference 2013)


Alex Atala:

Alex Atala is an acclaimed Brazilian chef whose work is concerned with traditional Brazilian cuisine, using native ingredients. It is his desire to capture the flavours, colours, textures and even smells of what it was to eat in Brazil (he even travelled into the Amazon rainforest to source traditional ingredients and do research).

Atala’s restaurant, D.O.M. in São Paulo was rated the 4th best restaurant in the world in 2012. He often includes burnt flavours or carbonized herbs to his menu as he thinks the delicious burnt smells and flavours of grilled meat (‘n lekker ou braai!) is a traditional base culinary flavour – not only in Brazil but all over the world.

Atala also went on to say that one of the main problems with the current food production industry is waste. “Your grandma used to kill and used every last piece of a chicken – now that is sustainable!” he said. Today we just pick up the phone and order ten beef fillets… what happens to the rest of the cow? – this is waste.Alex Atala

“The best way to be GLOBAL is to be LOCAL” ~ Alex Atala (Design Indaba Conference 2013)


Martí Guixé:

I think whilst multi-talented Catalonian designer Martí Guixé had the floor we all enjoyed a bit of design comic relief. His out-of-the-box design ideas had the audience teetering between amazement and giggles. Let me share one or two of his ingenious ideas with you…

Martí Guixé - GAT Fog
Martí’s GAT (Gin and Tonic) Fog

Whilst designing a fashion retail store, he convinced the owners to give him the budget they were going to spend on stock images for the store walls as he thought it to bland and commercial. Instead he took money and threw a massive party in the store a day before the launch, asking all party-goers to paint a wall. The result: a totally unique store interior… and everybody had a smashing time.

Martí Guixé

Tired of juggling your drink, food and conversation at parties or launches? So was Martí! What did he do? He hired some kind of agricultural machine that evaporates liquids, filled it, and fogged up the whole room with a mist of gin & tonic. Now you can breath in your drink instead of carrying it…

Another brilliantly funny idea – hijack a public fountain, fill it with ice, stick bottles of champagne in it, put out some tables and chairs and serve drinks to the public “until the cops come!


Daan Roosegaarde:

The most exciting speaker of the day would have to be innovator and interaction designer, Daan Roosegaarde. Daan, who describes himself as a “hippy with a business plan”, calls what he does “Techno Poetry” – a fusion of innovation and imagination.

A perfect example of this is Dune, a project which encourages visitors to be participants instead of observers. Dune, a collection of futuristic reed-like structures, consists of  hundreds of fibres, microphones, sensors and speakers which lights up and responds intuitively to the sounds and motions of the passing public.

Other AMAZING Studio Roosegaarde projects include a sustainable club dance floor which generates electricity by garnering the energy created by club-goers dancing on it, and a wondrous a high-tech fashion garment that becomes more or less transparent in response to your heartbeat;.

Daan has also partnered with Heijmans Infrastructure to build the world’s first “Smart Highway” which will feature sustainable concepts like glow-in-the-dark road paint, interactive and wind-powered lights, and even an induction priority lane that will charge the electrical cars that drive on it! What?! Amazing…Daan Roosegaarde

“We make things, but making also makes us…” ~ Daan Roosegaarde (Design Indaba Conference 2013)

Li Edelkoort Talks Textiles

“In these almost impossible to live in times,” says Edelkoort with feeling, “we need to be cuddled.” As a trend forecaster, she believes that in the near future we will see the overwhelming revival of textiles in our interiors, and that we will literally crave their tactility, sense of narration and colour.  “The only problem, she points out, is that we are closing our mills at a rate of knots, and universities are fast replacing looms with computers. The result? We are slowly forgetting how fabrics are made and where they come from. Yet, the appeal of textiles is universal and timeless,” says Edelkoort, “making them also very sustainable.”

The future, she says, “will see the overwhelming revival of textiles in our interiors, covering floors, walls and furniture in an expansive and personal manner. These textiles will speak loud and clear, and become the fabrics of life, narrating stories, designing patterns, promoting well-being and reviving the act of creative weaving.”

Reliving Design Indaba Conference 2012

Rose and I often recall the glorious three days we spend attending the Design Indaba Conference 2012 and now Design Indaba has systematically been uploading small clips of speaker highlights to YouTube.

I thought to share two short inspirational videos with you – both these speakers really made a lasting impression on me…

“Andrew Shoben creates art in public spaces as a way to add creative expression to parts of the city. Shoben talks about his “Trafalgar Sun” installation that explored the psychological effect that the sun has on Londoners. For Shoben it is important that his projects have a “community of presence”, something that makes people talk or smile to their neighbours in the city. Shoben also tells of the “3D abacus” that he created for the London Stock Exchange and how interaction is a side effect of all his work.”

“Architect Bjarke Ingels started BIG, Bjarke Ingels Group, in 2006 in Denmark after co-founding PLOT Architects in 2001 and working at OMA in Rotterdam. Through a series of award-winning design projects and buildings, Ingels has created an international reputation as a member of a new generation of architects that combine shrewd analysis, playful experimentation, social responsibility and humour.”

If you have a bit of time I suggest you pop over to the Design Indaba website and watch these talks in full – it’s well worth it. My mouth was literally hanging open that whole day…

Keeping it Eco-Friendly with Eco Effect

A company called Eco Effect recently caught my eye. They’re an innovative and environmentally-friendly creative solutions company specialising in eco-friendly flat-pack furniture and shop fitting. They work hand-in-hand with designers, architects, companies and retail shops to design and manufacture anything from custom shop fittings to interactive visual merchandising.

Their material of choice is something called “eco-board” – an environmentally-friendly corrugated cardboard that is strong, lightweight and 100% recyclable. It’s even water & fire resistant and they make several products out of it.

One of these products, the Eco Shelf, is a flat-pack, sturdy and strong shelf unit. It weighs less than 5kg but can hold up to an impressive 75kg. It is quick and easy to assemble – just pop it up and slot it in. No tools or glue required.

One more cool thing about the shelves is that it can be personalised – especially handy if you are in the merchandizing industry. So you can have your branding or something cool and quirky printed on it to fit your interior. And you guessed it – even the print is eco-friendly! It’s made with environmentally friendly ink which is VOC-free.

Another funky flat-pack design is the Armadillo Lampshade – seriously cool looking. They also do custom eco-friendly wallpaper and printing unto canvas, glass and Perspex.

Cool stuff! I do hope they are going to expand their furniture & lighting range – I really think flat-pack designs are the way of the future…

Check out Eco Effect’s website: here

Images via Eco Effect

The Rare African Leprechaun

St. Patrick’s Day had us thinking – if the lucky Irish Leprechaun had an African cousin he would probably look like this…

Rose and I spotted this intricate green beaded suit at Design Indaba and we thought St. Pat’s would be the perfect time to share it with you.

But all jokes aside – this crafted masterpiece has an excellent story behind it. It’s handmade by over 40 women from several communities in the Valley of 1000 Hills region, and made up of over 400 individual patches of bead work. The suit was designed by international award-winning fashion designer, Terrence Bray, for Woza Moya an income-generating project of the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust. The project spanned eight weeks from conception to completion and was designed as a “go green” initiative. It also provided an income for the 40-odd women who worked on it.

The suit consists of a suit jacket, pants, a top hat and an isagila (a traditional Zulu walking stick). Believed to be the first of its kind in the world, it will hopefully provoke discussion around environmental issues. Words and phrases related to green issues are featured on the suit.

The Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust assists men and women infected and affected by HIV/Aids, as well as families in need of an income. They support over 300 crafters with sustainable employment and provides training and a market for beautiful, handmade, contemporary crafts. Woza Moya is known for its beautiful beaded jewellery, which is sold around the world. It also produces a range of wirework, fabric-painted mats, conference bags, crochet and ceramic items. Woza Moya is the home of the Little Traveller, which is a tiny beaded doll that travels the world spreading a message of love and hope. By making Little Travellers, families have been fed, lights have been switched on, children have gone to school, water has poured out of taps and, most importantly, hope has been restored.”  –

If you can recall, Woza Moya is also responsible for last year’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa winner, The Dreams for Africa Chair, which symbolises hope and the importance of dreams, whilst also raising HIV/Aids awareness. On display at this year’s Design Indaba, the chair usually travels around South Africa and abroad.

A happy St. Paddy’s Day to you all!

Love, Rose and Marica x x

Images and  info via Design IndabaThe Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust

Decorex 2011 – Talking Trends With Dave Nemeth

Dave Nemeth’s Trend Talk at Decorex CT 2011

One of the interesting features of the recent Decorex Cape Town Expo was the Trend Talk given by Trend Forecast guru, Dave Nemeth.  Here in our office we seem to inadvertently watch the trends by being avid bloggers. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to listen to Dave open them up like the expert that he is.  He has been a player in the interiors trade for many years and it seems that the last few years have seen him trotting around the globe, trend watching.  I like that we have our own proudly South African Trend gurus.

This beautiful Salvatore Ferragamo crochet number can easily influence future Interior trends, for example this gorgeous chair for Casamento

How is a trend established?   I guess most of us are aware of the fact that Fashion and Interiors walk side by side, in terms of pattern, texture and colour trends, particularly the Cat Walk.  However, trends are not just established willy nilly.  Other factors that influence the establishing of a trend are:  What is the consumer experiencing; how are global politics and economics impacting consumers and then of course what impact is technology having on the consumer?  Research Information coming out of these influences is collated by Trend Forecasting Agencies for the benefit and application by Interior Designers, Retailers and Manufacturers who develop it further.

Scatter Cushions by Henry Road Fabrics
Pink & Berry Colours

FACT – Two types of trends – micro trends and macro trends. Micro trends are those that fleetingly come and go.  Naturally that would make a macro trend the stayer- for a good few years, much like the few I am about to highlight.

Colour – the impact of the recession in our global economy was reflected in the muted colour palette of grey and neutral tones.  (Mood influences colour).  Now that the movement in   the economy is more optimistic, the inclusion of strong pinks and berries colours are evident.  We are feeling upbeat and even if you aren’t at that place yet, indulge these colours and you soon will.

   Scatter Cushions by Henry Road Fabrics   

Industrial Cabinet via Weylandts
Upcycled & Industrial Cabinet from Weylandts

Furniture:  Dave highlighted the fact that coming out of the recession, the consumer has become a cautious and conscious buyer.  As such quality is a strong determinant in the furniture we buy, with resurgence of solid woods.  Solid woods in the form of re-cycled furniture, or up-cycled furniture (vintage, heritage or retro second hand pieces, that get the conversion treatment to a snazzy modern furniture item).  Handcrafted furniture is also very big, as is the industrialised look and feel.

It seems that tactile is the buzz word – we are experiencing a great deal of texture in our furniture, with open grain tables being more the rage. (I personally love this trend, as authenticity is one of my values in life).

Open bulbs or bulb-shaped lighting

Have you noticed that there is a lot of deep buttoned upholstered furniture to be had? And Listen, don’t let you mom or aunt throw out that old suitcase or trunk, or even the crate she stored the cool drink bottles in. (there are still a few of those cool drink vendors that drive around the suburbs – they have loads of those crates – convince them to part with it)

Lighting:  The shapes we find in table and standing lamps are both organic and angular.  That was seen in the products on display by Newport Lighting, a local-is-lekker company. Expect to see more lighting that feature exposed bulbs (frosted bulbs – not your standard bulb).  Wire caging surrounding the bulb is apparently also the way to go.  Nice.

Knitted Decor via Etsy

Accessories:  Now this is the exciting part – it’s affordable.  Textured scatter cushions – embroided, felt, cable knit, plenty of bright colours.

Handcrafted is so big.

Then Typography – words, letters, phrases all available to you to display in your favourite rooms.   Add into this collective mix, Anglophilia – all things Brit.

Green: There is however one distinct characteristic that runs through all categories – sustainability.  Green is here to stay!!!

Newspaper Pendant

Dave presented a bucket load of information and I could go on and on.

However from my observation, Decorex actually nailed the theme of the show – basic and beauty.  We are living in a time where the superfluous has been and gone.  We want to get back to our roots, our heritage and in doing so, find that grounded, safe and secure place again.

Anglophilia via Loads of Living
Anglophilia via Etsy
Heath Nash

So, we turn to the past and the heritage that is connected to that.  We surround ourselves in colours, crafts and textures that add optimist depth to our being, bringing hope and meaning to our lives.

Typography via Etsy
Typography via Etsy
Typography via Etsy

What the future holds – we will allow the trend gurus to unfold that with each passing season.