Design Indaba Conference 2014: Day 2

Last week I shared my feedback on the speakers I was privileged enough to see on Day 1 of the Design Indaba Conference (see it here). Today we will carry on with wise words of the speakers from Day 2…

DJ Stout:

I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation of DJ Stout, a graphic designer and art director at Pentagram – the world’s largest independent design consultancy. His unusual presentation was an ode to his beloved home state, Texas, and how it has shaped him and so shaped his work. It was probably my favourite of the whole conference…

Now let me set the scene… Heartbreaking yet captivating footage of the massively destructive 2011 Texas wildfires flashes onto the big screen whilst on stage musician Graham Reynolds plays a dramatic composition on a grand piano. Afterwards, cowboy hat-wearing DJ Stout discusses the fire’s devastating effects and one thing is abundantly clear – DJ’s heart belongs to Texas. He shares stories, old black & white photographs of rugged cowboys, and clips of “Cowboy Poets” reciting their beautiful (yet slightly corny) poetry.

“Everyone I’ve met from Cape Town loves it here; they actually love to brag about it!” – DJ Stout discussing the similarities between Texans and Capetonians.

“Sense of place is so important to designers… If you don’t pay attention to where you’re from you’ll get lost trying to be global.” – DJ Stout on the importance of knowing your roots.

Be proud. Be local. Be real. – a 6-word summary of DJ Stout’s presentation at the Design Indaba Conference 2014


Margot Janse & David Higgs:

The next speakers to grace the stage were masterful South African chefs Margot Janse and David Higgs. Margot is the executive chef at the award-winning The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français Hotel in Franschhoek and David is the executive chef at the Saxon Hotel’s Five Hundred restaurant in Johannesburg. After they introduced one another with a great deal of both professional and personal respect, they spoke about their personal life journeys and how (through very hard work) they became the chefs they are today. It was also interesting to hear how childhood experiences with food have influenced them and flamed their love of the culinary.

Margot Janse: Chefs need to find their own food language from Design Indaba on Vimeo.

David Higgs: The chef’s role is so much bigger than just food from Design Indaba on Vimeo.

“Search for adventure and excitement in every moment in life.” – Margot Janse at the Design Indaba Conference 2014

“I’m Dutch by birth but South African by choice” – Margot Janse calling South Africa home.

“Unforgettable dishes always have an element of surprise and nostalgia about them.” – Margot Janse


“Joburg has always been about the gold rush. Joburg is all about opportunities” – David Higgs discussing his move to Johannesburg and the Saxon Hotel’s Five Hundred restaurant.

“The chef’s role has become greater than the food itself – it’s about the experience.” – David Higgs at the Design Indaba Conference 2014


Michel Rojkind:

Award-winning architect Michel Rojkind introduced himself via a little drum solo – turns out the founder of rojkind arquitectos based in Mexico, was something of a rock star in his youth. The dynamic Michel spoke of his love for chaotic Mexico City as well as the challenges and difficulties architects and developers face in regards to the country’s unpredictable politics. He also shared some of his awesome, out-of-the-box, jaw-dropping projects including the Nestlé Chocolate Museum, Cineteca Nacional, and Liverpool Department Store.

AD Interviews: Michel Rojkind from ArchDaily on Vimeo.

Jeanne van Heeswijk

“If I don’t make the client understand what he’s not seeing, I’m not doing my job.”  – Michel Rojkind on reading between the lines and guiding the client to see something they wouldn’t otherwise have seen.

“The worst crisis is not an economic crisis. It’s a mental crisis. Any crisis can happen. If we’re good thinkers, we’ll think our way around it.” – Michel Rojkind at the Design Indaba Conference 2014


Marcello Serpa:

Brazilian ad legend Marcello Serpa doled out some of the very interesting and useful advice he has acquired in the span of his admirable career and as the creative director of AlmapBBDO. Marcello also shared some of their ingenious and successful campaigns including a hilarious Volkswagen Brazil ad that took the mickey out of Forrest Gump. For 17 years Marcello has been the mastermind behind the award-winning advertising of Havaianas and has played an integral role in launching this famous brand into international super-stardom.

Havaianas – Identity from AlmapBBDO Internet on Vimeo.

Alex Atala

“Never work under someone who is not better than you.” – Marcello Serpa at the Design Indaba Conference 2014

“Complicated seems clever only to stupid people. Be simple, but unpredictable – being simple and predictable will be the death of you.” – Marcello Serpa at the Design Indaba Conference 2014



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.