2017 Design Indaba Wrap Up

The 21st Design Indaba festival kicked off last week where there was a widespread use of natural elements as a source of inspiration, tackling issues of misrepresentation & examples of how beautiful data can be. Below are a few of the highlights from the 3 day conference.

  1. TAPPUTI AND THE SEA by Kaja Solgaard Dahl

Dyed natural sea sponges hold the handmade solid perfume made of only natural oils sourced from the African continent and around the Cape. Simple & beautiful design.


Kaja-Solgaard-Dahl.Photography-by-Magda-Gyda-Johansdottir-22. gt2p

Great Things To People is a Santiago, Chile based design firm involved in varying projects that focus on architecture, art and design. One of which blew us away – the invention allowed them to produce delicate, individually unique ceramic pieces.The Chilean firm and Eastern Cape-born ceramic artist Andile Dyalvane teamed up to collaborate on a never never-before-seen installation also featured below.

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3. UNWIND by Marko Ahtisaari

Tech entrepreneur Marko Ahtisaari is the CEO and co-founder of The Sync Project, which investigates the therapeutic effects of music on the body and mind. Music that can literally put you to sleep.

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Check it out on your mobile here: ‪http://bit.ly/2m8rJ4f

4. WHAT3WORDS – Chris Sheldrick

Chris Sheldrick is the founder of what3words, an addressing app that assigns a sequence of three simple words to any location in the world. Simply brilliant. Now everyone is the world has an address – from the peak of Kilimanjaro, rural landscapes in KwaZulu-Natal to the dance floor at ERA.

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precaustions.playable.gallows – Ogilvy Cape Town’s 3 word address. Find yours here: https://map.what3words.com/amused.thunder.wins

5. Lernert & Sander

Ever since they began collaborating in 2007, the artists and filmmakers Lernert & Sander have been known for their high-conceptual art films, eye-catching installations and keen fashion aesthetic. These two were a solid highlight from the conference. Hilarious, kind and brilliant.

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See more incredible work here: 


6. Kate Moross

Kate Moross, London based unicorn in the illustration world. She and her team have brought multiple projects to life – from Disclosure to Lorde, One Direction, Katy Perry & The  MTV Video Music Awards. Pretty much portfolio that any designer DREAMS to have.

Check out one of Studio Moross’ latest pieces:

7. Georgia Lupi & Kaki King

Giorgia Lupi interrogated the humanity behind big data. By removing the computer and forcing herself to imagine data in a different way. She is able to reveal patterns and nuanced aspects of the human experience that data would otherwise drown.

She collaborated with the INCREDIBLE Kaki King’s magical guitar playing to bring her data to life – an example below:


8. Wage Islands by Ekene Ijeoma

An interactive installation about wage and housing inequality in NYC. It’s a 3d topographic map of monthly housing costs submerged in water to show where New Yorkers can afford to live based on hourly wages.


There were SO many incredible moments – Check out the Ogilvy Instagram handles to see more. Thank you to the Joburg & Cape Town teams who co-curated this article!

Cape TownJoburgSA


Design Indaba 2015 Day 1 Overview

It’s that time of year again, suddenly you realise it’s almost the end of February and wonder how you got here so fast, it’s also time for the annual Design Indaba.
The Design Indaba is one of the world’s best design, creativity, and innovation conferences, it brings together industry thought leaders from around the world for 3 days of inspiring talks in Cape Town.
Design Indaba

The day kicked off traditionally as normal with a talk from a local ad agency, this time around it was Joe Public. Owners Xolisa Dyeshana and Pepe Marais took the stage to talk about their belief that design needs to have a purpose, and theirs is to help solve and draw attention to some of SA’s social issues (e.g. watch One School at a Time).
They also shared their latest campaign in partnership with Nedbank, they’ve set up idea ATMs in the foyers at the Design Indaba conference. The idea is to have the public deposit ideas on how to solve South Africa’s social issues, the best ides will be made real.
Next up was Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius. Her impressive range of work is renowned for it’s innovative and soulful approach. Much of her work focuses on creating a better lasting relationship between an object and people, have a look at http://www.jongeriuslab.com/ to see some of the work.

UK Digital Design and Dev studio The Workers shared their IK prize winning incredible interactive project that they did for The Tate gallery in London. The work they did was fantastic, rather that talk about it just watch the short clip below….wish we had done it.

Stanley HainsworthStanley Hainsworth, founder of agency Tether, and ex-creative director for Nike, Lego and Starbucks was up next with his great haircut (see pic). He has a lot of interesting insights on human behaviour, and shared how he uses lessons he learned as an actor in his everyday business career (e.g. sussing out what’s really going on in big meetings etc). His work is far too varied to cover in detail here but look him up at http://www.tetherinc.com/stanley-hainsworth/ and check out Tether to see some of his great work.


Naeem Biviji of Kenya-based Studio Propolis shared how his company has learned to love and work well with the challenges and opportunities involved in opening a design workshop in Kenya. He shared the story of his work creating a cathedral in Kenya’s capital.

Design Grad Students
A highlight every year at Design Indaba is the design school graduates, 8 students from design schools around the world who present their work Pecha Kucha-style at the conference. Click on the names below to read more about the fantastic projects they shared.
Doremy Diatta – Design for health.
Marc Dubois – Interaction designer who designed “Open Controllers” using smart phones.
Teresa van Dongen – Combining Design, Science, and Biology to make light.
Tyler Pratt – Designing a personal product line.
Kathryn Fleming – Exploring the intersections of science, art and technology (and making 6 legged cat dog hybrid animals).
Tia Blassingame  – The art of letterpress printing to explore the relationship between race, history and perception.
Ackeem Ngwenya – Designing the Roadless Wheel.
Carla Kreuser – Creating Stories using a combination of illustration and poetry.

Burning Man Foot
Larry Harvey, co-founder of Burning Man shared his story of Burning man from it’s founding in 1986 in San Francisco’s Baker Beach to the global festival it is today that takes place in over 50 countries. He talked about how the community has been created using a bohemian and “giving” approach, and how the art there is all designed with a social purpose, that people actively engage with it.


The final speaker of the day was long time host Michael Bierut who is a partner at the world famous Pentagram Design Studio. Michael gave a fantastic talk on How To Change The World With Graphic design. He also shared some of his incredible work and announced the news for the first time that in November he will launch his book, How to: Use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, and (every once in a while) change the world.
Below is the logo that changed his life and got him interested in design, it was for a trucking company and his parents pointed out how the L is lifting the A…he was in awe…the rest is history.
Clark Logo
He shared some of his recent projects, including re-designing all the signage and Street Maps for New York City for the Department of Transport, helping design the signage for the New York Times, designing a series of School libraries, revamping the Saks 5th Avenue brand, and creating a modifiable design pack for MIT Labs.

Design Indaba 2014 day 2

Another day at Design Indaba and more inspiration from around the world including speakers from the USA, The Netherlands, Brazil, and more. The days themes revolved around the power of collaboration, and the importance of using your upbringing to help guide your day to day work.Design Indaba 2014

The day kicked off with a talk from Pentagram partner and designer DJ Stout. DJ gave a wonderful presentation looking back at his career designing for Texas Monthly, and shared an incredible story of Cowboy Poetry accompanied by music from talented musician Graham Reynolds. DJ talked about the importance of sense of place, saying “If you don’t pay attention to where you’re from, you’ll get lost trying to be global.”

Next up was Mexican Architect Michel Rojkind. Working in Mexico he has learned to deal with politics, and advised people that in this overstimulated world we need to just to get out there, make things and let it all out. He talked about his love of collaboration,  saying that even it is good to be contaminated by outside ideas for projects. When designing he said to remember to “Look at your surroundings, not just what’s in front of you.”michel Rojkind
Food lovers got a treat with a talk by two famous local chefs, Margot Janse, and David Higgs. They shared their story of how they made it to where they are, and how their heritage has informed their cooking. A chefs role is now much more than just the food, it’s about creating experiences.

After the break Dutch design firm Scholten & Baijing shared some of their incredible work using in-house made colours and textiles. Stefan Scholten spoke about how with any design the function is just as important as the looks, and then took us through their collaboration with Mini to create a deconstructed Mini One, and really look at cars from a fresh perspective (see video below).

Marcello SerpaOne of the most awarded Creative Directors in the world spoke next, Marcello Serpa, a partner at AlmapBBDO in Sao Paulo. Marcello’s career kick-started when he designed the branding for the now global brand Havaiana.

He shared his two rules for making great work;
1. Be Simple,
2. Be Unpredictable.

Marcello also talked about the two most important questions to ask at any creative meeting / briefing, namely;
1.What do we want to say?
2. Is this relevant?.

Marcello then shared some of his favourite work (Getty Images, VW Spare Parts, Cesar and more)

In advertising most agencies have an odd hierarchy dictated by job titles, he said “People want titles, what they should want is great work, & then be properly financially rewarded for it.” (cue lots of cheers from the audience).

Some of his other words of wisdom were;

Never work for someone who isn’t better than you. Everyone should work for someone they respect, admire and can learn from. // Be hard on work – not on people. // Don’t make unreasonable demands or be vague about what you want. // Be wary of marketing intelligence – in particular, costly research and reports that can lead to clichéd campaigns or unnecessarily complicated concepts. // Not everything that’s new is good and not everything that’s good is new. Great work is timeless, and trends pass.

The next session was a total departure from advertising and instead was a group chat by 3 South African Artists. Photographer Nandipha Mntambo shared a project where she explored mirror images of herself. Performance artist Athi-Patra Ruga who talked about his latest project – The White Women of Anzania. And finally GLBT Visual Activist Zanele Muholi, who showed us the video below against gender violence in South Africa.

The final 2 speakers were LA based Architect Clive Wilkinson who designed the Google’s headquarters, and local successful fiction author Lauren Beukes who talked about her writing and telling stories.

Clive shared his latest incredible project for the Barbarian Groups new office (see below), and offered several tips and words of advice; Hierarchy kills creativity // In office design you need to create free flowing & open spaces // In large companies you need to create natural spaces where tribes and communities can form.

Lauren put on an arty light and sound show talking about the importance of storytelling in our everyday lives. When talking about how she got into writing Lauren said  “Some people go to therapy, I write books”. Another interesting point she raised was that it’s scientifically proven that reading fiction improves our levels of empathy.

Design Indaba Day One

For those of you who have never heard of the Design Indaba it’s an organisation that drives for a better world through design, creativity and innovation.
Each year over a few days they hold a conference in Cape Town where some of the worlds brightest creative minds get together to share inspirational stories.photo 1

Day one traditionally opens with a talk from a South African Agency, and this year it was from our very own group ECD Chris Gotz. Chris told our Ogilvy Cape Town story of a rebirth through fire. Together with Gavin Levinsohn, Chris helped transform the agency from a rather traditional but good agency, into South Africa’s number 1 integrated agency. The key message focused around divine discontent, and a need for us all to stop just telling stories, and to start making them instead.

next up was  Juliana Rotich from Ushanda in kenya, she spoke about some of the incredible innovation coming from Africa that helps democratise information such as the BRCK, and shared that for every 1% growth in internet penetration, most countries will see on average a 1.63% growth in GDP.

Amsterdam based graphic design studio  Experimental Jetset, shared some of their inspiration on how they got to some of their most famous work such as the graphic design for the Whitney Museum in NYC. One key takeout was that you have to create your own freedom, it will never be given to you.

Probably my personal  favourite speaker of the day was Jake Barton (watch this video of Jake talking at Wired), founder of interactive New York design house Local Projects. He shared some of their wonderful work and talked a lot about how we need to make more platforms that allow people to create their own authentic stories (See below). The other main point was to stop always trying to just conceptualise ideas and wait for briefs, and rather mock things up then actively go sell to clients as solutions.

Ije Nwokorie MD of Wolff Olins in the UK talked about how great design inspires people to do things differently, and how creativity tends to work best in messy environments.

This years Pecha kucha talk were as always a mixed bunch from all over the world as normal, the standout talk was by Dave Hakkens who invented the Phone Bloks ( have a look at https://phonebloks.com), and then turned down a job with Motorola to follow his own path.

The last two talk were from Tom Hulme from Open Ideo and famous UK designer Thomas Heatherwick. Tom told us we are all designers, and how great design addresses a human need and in a low friction (easy to do) way.
Thomas took us through his iconic work creating the UK Olympic Cauldron, the new London Bus, as well as the UK Pavilion in China.

The day ended with a special surprise as they announced a new Heatherwick design project at the V&A Waterfront that will create Africa’s first public contemporary African art museum.