Design Indaba Highlights: Part 1

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From popularising the practice of street debating to always making time to play, the HC crew chats about their favourite moments of this year’s Design Indaba.

Morag Myerscough

London-based Morag Myerscough captivated the Design Indaba audience with her creative way of giving spaces character through the use of colour and shapes. Her approach is to change the perception of space and to challenge people to view things a little differently, which was evident in her transformation of the Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

She loves playing with concrete surroundings as it becomes a great canvas to make her colourful ideas come to life and we were very lucky to be able to witness this first hand through one of her amazing architectural centerpieces that was brought to life in the middle of the Artscape Piazza called Embrace the Unknown.

Some great life lessons from her talk were to always make time to play, to embrace the unknown and to really see what you are looking at.

Lesley-Anne van der Nest: Business Unit Director

Tomo Kihara

A real highlight for me wasn’t from any of the big name firms working on mind-melting projects in New York with budgets to match, or from any of the celebrated designers who’ve worked with Kanye West (you can always tell if a designer has worked with Kanye because they’ll tell you if they’ve worked with Kanye quicker than you can say ‘Yeesus’).

For me, a standout idea came from a graduate design researcher in Tokyo. His invention, if you can call it that since it’s essentially just a scale, took the problem of begging and reframed the whole context of how we approach homelessness and begging.

Rather than asking, “How do we make people care about giving?” it simply makes people give to what they already care about. Things like Yoda. Or Trump being a good or bad president. Or literally any number of conversations that have nothing to do with homelessness but instead popularises the practice of street debating, which involves collecting public opinions in exchange for spare coins.

What I really liked about this idea is how it worked, replacing all the feelings of guilt / shame / obligation associated with begging with two equal parties having a conversation. Instead of a savior giving money to a sinner, it leveled the platform to something more human: two people talking.

JP Le Riche: Group Creative Head

Edel Rodriguez
I really enjoyed the speakers this year. A truly diverse group of world changers from all walks of life, but I was truly inspired by a man named Edel Rodriguez. He is an artist and activist, but ultimately he is a man with a voice. He creates works of art that speak out to the public and demand attention.

His posters and artwork of Trump were an amazing display of defiance against the status quo, something only few people ever actually do. His covers for TIME magazine and Der Spiegel caused controversy and intrigue from people all over the globe. They were either with him, or against him, but more importantly they sparked a conversation. And that’s what real art should always try and do.

Brett Webb: Senior Interaction Designer

Thomas Heatherwick

Although Thomas Heatherwick’s illustrious career as an architect and designer may be distantly removed from the world of advertising – it’s the way in which he processes his ideas and turns them into tangible pieces of work that had the audience at this year’s Design Indaba hanging on his every word. Mentioning that he designed the recently opened Zeitz Mocca most likely did its bit too.

Perfecting ideation is the figurative golden apple in an industry that is begging for originality and for all of the creatives in attendance at the Artscape Theatre during Thomas’ presentation; he seemed to have all of the answers. As impressive as his work was, it was his certainty and whole-hearted belief in his key principles that gave insight into what it takes to succeed so humbly.

His 3 principles, made up of ‘soulfulness’, ‘redefining heritage’ and ‘human scale’, essentially define him as a designer and were instantly recognizable in his buildings and spaces. He hangs his hat so firmly on these personal beliefs to the point of them becoming a lens through which everything he does is processed. And it works.

From the Zeitz Mocca in Cape Town to Google’s Head HQ in California, his body of work is testament to the fact creativity is never linear nor is it a defined process. It is merely what you make of it.

Alex Krause: Content Strategist