Design Indaba Highlights: Part 2


A good idea is a lot like pizza: if it’s good, it’ll still be good tomorrow. And that’s what makes the Design Indaba so resonant in the design community, like a good pizza, the insights and ideas are still good even after a little time. So now that all the excitement has petered out and the dust has settled, we asked some of this year’s attendees what’s stood out for them, even now.

In part two the team expand upon work from architect Iwo Borkowicz, ophthalmologist Dr William Mapham and “Accra-based trail-blazer”,  Dj Steloo.

 Iwo Borkowicz

Iwo Borkowicz is the winner of the Young Talent Architecture award for his work on A Symbiotic Relation of Cooperative Social Housing and Dispersed Tourism in Havana Vieja’.

This talk was particularly interesting as it addressed a very similar problem to what is going on in Cape Town at the moment, particularly in Woodstock. Havana was indirectly forcing local residents out because the city had become such a popular tourist hub, thus rental was on the rise and the locals could no longer afford to live there. The living conditions were often very poor, it became clear that the city needed to build 500 000 new housing units while ensuring that tourism remained a big focus.

Iwo’s project proposed buildings in areas that attract tourists, consisting of both regular flats for Cubans while incorporating a proportionate number of hotel units weaved into them. This concept then allows the local owner to earn money to pay for the construction of the building itself. Cuban inhabitants would take care of the guests while ensuring they have a means to make a living for themselves and their families.

Genevieve Ferraris: Account Director

Dr William Mapham

The Design Indaba Conference had so many inspiring speakers-to be honest- I cried at least twice a day from sheer inspiration (Blush Blush). A really moving presentation for me came from an unexpected speaker. He wasn’t a famous architect or a fashion activist, he was a Doctor, an Eye Doctor- Dr William Mapham!

During William’s residency (before specialising) he used to travel up to 4 hours per day to work inland at the rural clinics of the Eastern Cape. Although a qualified doctor he wasn’t a specialist yet and often had to refer patients with severe eye conditions to other nearby specialist doctors. These doctors were often far away and many patients just did not have the funds or means to travel there so ultimately their condition would escalate, often leading to blindness.

Dr William Mapham soon realised that the public healthcare system had two big challenges:

  1. Reaching patients can take many hours
  2. Patients can’t readily travel long distances

BUT, rural health workers have very modern mobile devices! This insight helped Dr William Mapham create & launch the VULA App.

This App provides rural healthcare workers access to over 15 different specialist doctors around South Africa through bespoke patient and specialist forms. With the help of a top notch UX Designer the 2.0 version of the App is super user-friendly.

Although this App sounds like a no-brainer to us creative folk, it’s the first of its kind in the medical industry (Can you believe it?) and has not only changed the way doctors and specialists interact (No more unanswered phone ringing off the hook) but it’s changed lives and communities through treatment and up skilling of health workers.

Some of the results:

  • Average specialist response time of approx. 15 minutes (Doctors are competitiveJ)
  • 1 in 3 patients managed with advise online
  • 1 person is helped every 8 minutes
  • Database of 80 000 case pictures (Competing on a Google Level here)

What really resonated with me, was when William out rightly admitted that without the UX & Design expertise this App would not be what it is today. He implored the audience to use their design & creative skills to help ‘non-creatives’ like him make things better. He ended his talk with an extremely moving video of a wonderful old tannie in rural Eastern Cape opening her eyes post-surgery and seeing for the first time in 9 years. It was incredibly moving and the tears flowed.

As creatives, we make some many extraordinary and conceptual things but sometimes it feels like we’ve strayed from focusing on human truths, bettering systems and helping the human race with design. William left us with the phrase- “Don’t always disrupt, rather gently bend…”- a quote that will remain with me.

NOTE: Please do not download the VULA App from the App store- it is only for Medical professionals.

Alex Ferguson-Korstanje: Senior Account Manager


Imagine this. An opera-house full of creative beings, craving every drop of inspiration they can suck out of the 2018 Design Indaba. It’s announced that right before we break, we’re going to be serenaded out by someone called Steloolive. Majority of us know nothing about this human. A handful of people bursting for their coffee or cigarette or both jump up and take the gap to dash out while the rest of us chatter away. The stage goes dark and Steloolive appears, the dim lumo lights reflecting in his oversized sunglasses. Sunglasses in the dark. And the best hat any human can ever own.

The entire audience silences.

He steps to the front of the stage, takes the mic and starts to softly speak about a journey with birds and planes. You aren’t entirely sure what he’s talking about but that only draws you in more. He speaks further about this journey and retreats to the small setup with barely a keyboard and a symbol. He creates sounds from a rustling space blanket and sets it to loop. Adds a note from the keyboard. And loop. This goes on for a few minutes until you aren’t too sure what you are listening to but you know you LOVE the awkwardness of it all. And just total stillness in that opera-house. All eyes glued to his performance.

And then it ends. And he takes a bow and says thank you. And we all sit there not completely sure what this fashion icon has just done to us all.

Imagine being so sure of yourself. So unafraid to live amongst the birds and the planes in tiny shorts and shin guards. Just in case.

Nikki-Leigh Piper : Executive Producer