DESIGN> magazine (edition 14, 2009)

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CONTENTS > PREFACE 7 > The Creative Economy 9 > Editor’s foreword 10 > Design awards and competitions calendar


12 > The Creative Economy: Winnie the Pooh dons a cape and tights 18 > Cultural and creative industries on the political agenda – taking the economy to the next stage 24 > The power of industrial design in Africa 32 > The Arterial Network Winter School 2009: Designing a network for creative industries in Africa


38 > Shoot your game in Africa




42 > The economics of design promotion

55 > Green dynamics in Dubai

47 > P otentials design seminar: Towards a social design mindset

62 > Don of Architecture


96 > R eviving the lost art of blacksmithing in modern furniture production

106 > The intersection of people and places 114 > Hitting the right notes in tough times

102 > H andles Inc. goes green 120 > Have your cake and eat it too



152 > Boogie Wonderland

169 > New boost for Nollywood

166 > Why should designers blog?

172 > No access to non-humans 178 > African puppets take the world by storm



odern technology and design help preserve 70 > M ancient manuscripts

86 > D efine your products according to your market’s requirements

75 > A frican footprints in Arabian sand: Atlantis, The Palm Jumeira

90 > T he Infusion Lounge: Building a brand through interior design


124 > I s it simple? Is it clear? Is it beautiful?

134 > Competitions as a form of branding

128 > A nnual reporting breaks the traditional mould and gets creative

140 > I deas That Matter 10: European winners announced 146 > “I see the book as a living organism”

186 > ART & CRAFT

186 > “ I am an artworker”

199 > Mined over matter

194 > C EDARTE: managing a creative industry in Mozambique

204 > Dystopia 208 > The queen of felt formation



214 > The South African Fashion Week legacy

224 > The layered identity of Karim Mekhtigian

220 > Jewellery of distinction – the African way

231 > Collaborating for brand value and longevity

234 > IP

236 > C ompetition law – the grand design


240 > Thinking about a new design order 242 > An activist for grassroots design education 248 > E xpensive and elitist art and design education in Kenya


250 > A first for Africa: Design Grade 10 252 > The brand gap and zag


264 > The essence of a woman 268 > Italy on display 271 > A passion for elegant furniture

254 > A typographers guide to the galaxy ever use white type on a black background 258 > N and 50 other ridiculous design rules

274 > E asy wallpaper effects are quick and convenient 276 > Lighting up The White House 278 > E state feature: Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate


CREDITS PUBLISHER & CEO > Cameron Bramley EDITOR > Jacques Lange CONTRIBUTING EDITORS > Jennie Fourie, Bev Hermanson & Suné Stassen CONTRIBUTORS > Alexis Apostolidis, Stratos Bacalis, Tasos Calantzis, Ghada Ibrahim, Melanie Harteveld Becker, Roelf Mulder, Lilac Osanjo, Chantal Ramcharan, Nicky Rehbock, Sidhika Sooklal, Anri Theron, Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning, Ria van Zyl & Estelle Walmsley. SALES DIRECTOR > Jaime-Lee van Sittert



PUBLISHED BY > Design Information Tel: +27(0) 82 882 8124 Fax: +27 (0) 86 678 8448

© 2009 Design Information.

DESIGN > is produced by Design Information. All material is strictly copyright, with all rights reserved. No material may be reproduced in part or whole without the express permission of the publisher. No responsibility will be accepted for unsolicited material. The publisher accepts no liability of whatsoever nature arising out of or in connection with the contents of this publication. The publisher does not give any warranty as to the completeness or accuracy of its contents. The views and opinions expressed in DESIGN > are not necessarily those of the publisher, its endorsers, sponsors or contributors.





oes the creative economy flourish more in a recession? Having felt the recession, I would imagine it is the highest creative time for most businesses. If the word ‘re-designing’ means

change, then re-designing of marketing strategies, advertising, human resources and of course budgets, is happening universally in this time of change.

DESIGN > magazine in its essence has no negative connotations whatsoever, as it pays homage to all design. Design in itself is a positive moving-forward process. Even if the design is not appealing, the inexperienced designer is simply progressing to better design. In a recession, even such a designer becomes more creative.

DESIGN > magazine is gaining significant momentum, driving strategic alliances, developing new landing pages and launching niche titles. I am pleased to announce that DESIGN > in technology has gone live and, in my mind, I anticipate that it will surpass everyone’s expectations. Last but not least, we will be launching DESIGN > in Education at the beginning of next year. Enjoy the read, encourage your colleagues to subscribe, too, and most of all be creative at all times.

Cameron Bramley DESIGN > CEO and publisher formation




his edition of DESIGN > magazine started out with humble aims of looking at the role that design plays in the broad concept of the Creative Economy. It unintentionally ended up becoming the largest edition published yet.

The reason for this bumper edition is that the concept of the Creative Economy is vast. It encompasses many fields of practice and the editorial team became immersed in the theme. They soon found themselves exploring diverse avenues and angles on the topic. In the blink of an eye we had covered a range of disciplines and topics not originally intended. These range from music, cinematography, and puppetry to craft, textiles and ceramics to mention just a few. The dynamic development of this edition of DESIGN > signifies the multi-disciplinary nature of the design fields, as well as their dynamic and unpredictable developments. Design as a discipline is never static. It is in constant flux and is redefined continuously. The result? A worthwhile and insightful issue of DESIGN > covering 52 articles and 334 pages. Design is not just a tool that beneficiates commercial brand value – it entails much more. It’s more about an attitude anchored on innovative thinking; it is a service provider sector of problem-solving solutions; and a sector that stimulates new ways at looking at the world, how we think, how we view it, and how we respond to its challenges. More than 50 industry experts provided perspectives on these subjects. Yes, this issue is a demanding read, but then again, a little reading might not go amiss in our industry. I wish you an insightful and entertaining journey through the Creative Economy. Jacques Lange DESIGN > Editor formation


Architecture, Interior Design & Built Environment

Communication Design, Advertising, Animation & New Media

August 2009

September 2009

01 > 15th PG Bison student of the year (South Africa)

01 > Andreu World International Design Competition (International) 02 > Brick-stainable: Registration deadline (International) 03 > Think Outside the Parking Box (International)

01 > Print’s New Visual Artists Competition (International) 02 > Pixel Awards: Fourth Annual Call for Entries 03 > Taiwan International Poster Design Award 2009 (International)

01 > HOW International Design Awards (International) 02 > American Design Awards (Grace Period / Extension) 03 > Print magazine’s New Visual Artists Competition

Industrial Design

01 > Andreu World InternationalDesign Competition (International) 02 > Furniture Design Award 2010 (International)


01 > International Design Awards (International) 02 > Spark Design & Architecture Awards (International)

01 > iF awards: M Technology Award (International)

Research & Journalism


01 > Incheon International Design Award 2009: (International)


November 2009

December 2009

01 > 13th JAD International Design Competition (International) 02 > eVolo 2010 Skyscraper Competition (International)

01 > DNA +: Water and Wind (International) 31 > Guangzhou Design Week 2009 (International)

01 > SPTID: San Pellegrino Terme Identity (International)

01 > HOW Poster Design Awards (International)

01 > PDP Award: Andrea Pininfarina (International)

01 > L’argus European Design Competition for Students (International) 01 > Australian International Design Awards (International) 31 > Jump the Gap Competition (International)

01 > Rome Prize 2010 (International)



The Creative Economy > Winnie the Pooh dons a cape and tights By Jennie Fourie


here are many clichéd similarities between the creatives of this world and the lovable little bear that A.A. Milne created in 1926. Pooh’s main concern is to make his friends happy; with his head full of fluff, he is gifted with an uncommon, clear-eyed wisdom; he is an inventor of sorts, responsible for the famous game ‘Poohsticks’ and he always wears an old red T-shirt. He often creates little tunes, or hums, about almost anything at all. But now Pooh has donned a cape and tights – in true Superman fashion – in an attempt to save the world. In these bleak economic times, the concept ‘Creative Economy’ has become somewhat of a lifesaver. People and industries are disenchanted with mainstream economic endeavours that have created the mess in which we find ourselves and are looking elsewhere for viable economic models that could restore a semblance of order to life as we know it. But first things first: What is the creative economy? A plausible definition, commonly used in the USA and

one that was frequently cited by presenters at the international conference on the Creative Economy held in Glasgow, Scotland in November last year, refers to the creative economy as a collective term for industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation of ideas, products and/or services. In the early years of the new millennium, Prof. Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, already said that the design economy had emerged as the successor to the information economy, which in turn succeeded the manufacturing and service economies. So, thoughts about the creative economy have been around for almost ten years.

The Creative Economy Report 2008 – spanning a whopping 357 pages – was the first study to present the United Nations’ perspective on this emerging topic. It was an initiative of the partnership between the



The creative economy in action. Photographs by Mary Alexander, Jeffrey Barbee, Rodger Bosch, Hannelie Coetzee, Chris Kirchhoff, and Graeme Williams courtesy of

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) Special Unit for South-South Cooperation. According to this report the term ‘creative economy’ appeared in 2001 in John Howkins’s book about the relationship between creativity and economics. The report states: “For Howkins, ‘creativity is not new and neither is economics, but what is new is the nature and the extent of the relationship between them and how they combine to create extraordinary value and wealth’. Howkins’s use of the term ‘creative economy’ is broad, covering 15 creative industries extending from arts to the wider fields of science and technology. According to his estimates, in the year 2000, the creative economy was worth $2.2 trillion worldwide, and it was growing at 5% annually. For Howkins, there are two kinds of creativity: the kind that relates to people’s fulfilment as individuals and the kind that generates a product. The first one is a universal characteristic of humanity and is found in all societies and cultures. The second is stronger in industrial societies, which put a higher value on novelty, on science and technological innovation, and on intellectual property rights (IPRs).”

Is it worth it? The figures cited by Howkins indicate that the creative economy has become a force to be reckoned with. The Creative Economy Report shows that revenue derived from the creative industries is on the up and up. In the five years from 2000 to 2005 trade in creative goods and services increased at an average annual rate of 8.7%. World exports of creative products were valued at $424.4 billion in 2005 as compared to $227.5 billion in 1996, according to preliminary UNCTAD figures. Creative services, in particular, enjoyed rapid export growth – 8.8% annually between 1996 and 2005. Research conducted in the Netherlands in 2004 came up with interesting figures on the importance of Dutch design. The research study found that Dutch designers contributed €2.6 billion to the country’s gross national product (GNP) – almost half a billion more than the contribution of the petroleum industry and on a par with the air transport industry. The research findings also showed that for every €10 earned in the Netherlands, 7 cents was earned by Dutch design.

… And in South Africa?

The creative industries lie at the core of the creative economy. UNCTAD’s definition of the creative industries states that they are the cycles of creation, production and distribution of goods and services that use creativity and intellectual capital as primary inputs. They also constitute a set of knowledge-based activities, focused on, but not limited to arts, potentially generating revenues from trade and intellectual property rights. Furthermore, the creative industries comprise tangible products and intangible intellectual or artistic services with creative content, economic value and market objective and are at the cross-road among the artisan, services and industrial sectors, as well as constituting a new dynamic sector in world trade.

According to Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) estimates, South Africa’s craft sub-sector alone contributes about R2 billion or 0.14% to South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) annually, providing jobs and income for around 38 000 people through at least 7 000 small enterprises. According to an Elle Decoration statement, released when the winners of the South African leg of the 2007 Elle Decoration International Design Awards (EDIDA) were announced, “crafts could contribute R5 billion to the country’s GDP and 20 000 more jobs by 2015 if supported by more targeted interventions”.

This is quite a mouthful for any Pooh-Bear-wannabe, but it is reassuring in the sense that it offers legitimacy to that which creatives through millennia have known: What they do can make a difference to the world.

Ravi Naidoo, managing director of Interactive Africa and founder of the Design Indaba, is a great believer in the fact that the creative industries can make a significant difference to the South African economy. formation

16 > CREATIVE ECONOMY Three years ago, in 2006 already, he told Bizcommunity that design and creative-based businesses are outperforming their peers and offer huge potential for creating jobs, generating wealth and growing local and export markets. Naidoo believes that design is about problem solving. “In South Africa creative industries have the potential to be instrumental in addressing development challenges by creating jobs through cultural production. Globally creative industries have been identified as a high growth sector. South Africa has the opportunity to harness its creative diversity to create its own competitive advantage and to increase the capacity of its creative economy.”

Programme of UNCTAD. She presented a paper in Spain in March this year titled The challenges of assessing the creative economy: Towards informed policy-making. The main thrust of her presentation was that there was no one-size-fits-all recipe when it comes to creating a policy for the creative economy. She advocated that flexible and strategic choices should be made by national governments and that there was a need to reconcile national policy-making for the creative economy with ongoing multi-lateral processes. In this way the creative industries could offer new venues for countries to leapfrog into high-growth areas of the world economy.

Naidoo’s brainchild, the Design Indaba, is proof that if the creative industries – and design in particular – are marketed in the right way, the sky’s the limit. The Design Indaba has been presented since 1995 and has been committed to a vision that creativity will fuel an economic revolution in South Africa.

Another proponent for establishing a policy framework for the Creative Economy is Simon Ellis, Chief of Section: Science & Technology, Culture & Communication Section, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). As early as 2005, he played a key role in formulating the Jodhpur Initiatives, strategies that arose at an UNCTADorganised symposium held in Nagaur, India. The symposium focused on the role of cultural industries in development, with particular emphasis on the importance of local artistic and cultural activity as a means towards economic empowerment and poverty alleviation.

The Design Indaba website states: “By attracting the world’s brightest talent, Design Indaba has become a respected institution on the creative landscape and one of the few global events that celebrates all the creative sectors – graphic design, advertising, film, music, fashion design, industrial design, architecture, craft, visual art, new media, publishing, broadcasting and the performing arts sector. Besides the flagship conference and expo, Design Indaba has grown into a multi-tiered experience that incorporates an extensive range of elements such as events, publications, education, training, business, development and community initiatives.” The Design Indaba Conference was awarded the EIBTM award for Best Conference in the World in 2005 and won Best Live Event at the Loerie Awards 2007.

But first there shall be policy Does the names Edna dos Santos-Duisenberg and Simon Ellis mean anything to you? Well, they should, because these two people have been instrumental in policy-making around the creative economy. Dos Santos-Duisenberg is the chief of the Creative Economy

But what does all this policy-making mean to the designer in his studio, the crafter in a rural village in KwaZulu-Natal, the architect on the building site, the set designer in the theatre? How will policies assist these Pooh bears, who are trying on their red and blue capes for size? The answer is simple. As soon as governments realise that the creative economy is a force to be reckoned with – and they should start paying attention if the United Nations is getting excited – formal frameworks can be put into place that will make life easier for those populating the creative industries. It’s as simple as that.

The creative economy and the developing world The developing world is the new kid on the block when it comes to the creative economy. Or rather, the creative industries have always played an active role

in the generating income and providing a livelihood for people in the developing world – it was just not given a formal tag. UNCTAD has enlarged the focus of its policy-oriented analysis, emphasising four key objectives in its approach to the creative economy the developing world. The first is to reconcile national cultural objectives with technological and international trade policies; secondly, to deal with the asymmetries inhibiting the growth of creative industries in developing countries; thirdly, to reinforce the so-called ‘creative nexus’ between investment, technology, entrepreneurship and trade; and, lastly, to identify innovative policy responses for enhancing the creative economy for development gains.

The link between design and innovation Design and its role in the creative economy is hot news. At the World Economic Forum’s Summit on the Global Agenda held in Dubai in November last year, a design manifesto was developed that stated, inter alia that: “Now, at a time of crisis and unprecedented change in every area of our lives – economic, political, environmental, societal and in science and technology – design is more valuable than ever.” Along with well-being, sustainability and learning, innovation was cited as the biggest challenges, as well as opportunities for design. The discussion on innovation centred on the fact that “designers are continuing to develop and deliver innovative new products at a turbulent time when consumer attitudes are changing dramatically, thereby creating new and exciting entrepreneurial opportunities in the current crisis. They are increasingly using their expertise to innovate in new areas such as the creation of new business models and adoption of a strategic and systemic role in both the public and private sectors”. The World Economic Forum’s Competitive Report 2008-2009 also placed innovation as the 12th pillar for competitiveness. The report states that in order to be competitive, “firms … must design and develop cutting-edge products and processes to maintain a

competitive edge. This requires an environment that is conducive to innovative activity, supported by both the public and the private sectors. In particular, this means sufficient investment in research and development especially by the private sector, the presence of high-quality scientific research institutions, extensive collaboration in research between universities and industry, and the protection of intellectual property”.

The creative economy is alive and well and living in South Africa Creative industries are thriving in South Africa. This country has never been in a better position to let its creative industries go forth and generate income towards the GDP and to alleviate poverty amongst its people. Dr Nikolaus Eberl, author of the bestselling book BrandOvation™: How Germany won the World Cup of Nation Branding, and the sequel The Hero’s Journey: Building a Nation of World Champions, wrote in July that South Africa 2010 is set to beat Germany’s brand score. He wrote: “Following the FIFA Confederations Cup, a visitor satisfaction survey commissioned by Cape Town Tourism revealed that out of 323 international visitors canvassed only one said he would not recommend South Africa as a holiday destination. The answer “maybe” came from 3.68% of respondents, resulting into an aggregate brand advocacy score of 96% for destination South Africa. In terms of destination branding, this is the highest brand advocacy score achieved by a FIFA World Cup host yet, beating the benchmark set by Germany in 2006 by almost eight percentage points.” With less that 300 days to kick-off, now is the time for the creative industries to move into top gear to make their mark on the world in 2010. From designers, to crafters, to entertainers, to brand strategists … the stage is set for a creative revolution. Or, as Winnie the Pooh, who has a soft spot for honey – the currency of his world – loves to say: “Now would you aim me at the Bees, please.” < formation

18 > CREATIVE ECONOMY Tivoli Park by Ulrik Jantzen

Cultural and creative industries on the political agenda – taking the economy to the next stage By Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning,


overnments in Europe have started to realise

contributed 2.1% to EU GDP. The food, beverage and

the importance of the cultural and creative

tobacco manufacturing sector accounted for 1.9% of

industries. Cultural and creative industries

contribution to EU GDP. The textile industry accounted

have gone from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘need-to-have’ and

for 0.5% of contribution to EU GDP. The chemicals,

cultural policies have increasingly become an instrument

rubber and plastic products industry accounted for

for driving growth and creating jobs.

2.3% of contribution to EU GDP.

Looking at the Danish perspective, The Royal Danish

Contribution of EU growth: The overall growth of the

Ballet and local theatres still need public subsidies but

sector’s value add was 19.7% in 1999-2003. The sector’s

the cultural and creative sectors are now seen as busi-

growth in 1999-2003 was 12.3% higher than the growth

nesses in their own right. They also now deal with issues

of the general economy.

such as trade disputes, international intellectual property rights enforcement, media ownership, and more.

Employment: In 2004 5.8 million people worked in the sector, equivalent to 3.1% of total employed population

In 2006 the European Commission published a study

in EU. Whereas total employment in the EU decreased

titled The Economy of Culture in Europe which shows

in 2002-2004, employment in the sector increased by

that the cultural and creative industries drive economic

+1.85%. A total of 46.8% of workers in this sector have

growth and job creation – jobs that are difficult to out-

at least a university degree (compared to 25.7% in total

source to foreign markets. Although the data need to be

employment). The share of independents is more than

updated and statistics may be difficult to compare from

twice that of the total employment (28.8% against 14.1%).

one country to another, it clearly shows the importance

The sector records 17% of temporary workers (13.3% in

of the sector. Following are some of the findings of

total employment). The share of part-time workers is

the study:

higher (one worker out of four, against 17.6% in total employment).

Importance of cultural and creative industries in Europe Turnover: The sector had a turnover of more than € 654 billion in 2003. The turnover of the car manufacturing industry was € 271 billion in 2001 and the turnover gen-

Source: The Economy of Culture in Europe, European Commission, 2006.

Provide an experience and earn more

erated by ICT manufacturers was € 541 billion in 2003 (EU-15 figures).

The term ‘experience economy’ was coined by the American thinkers, Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore,

Value added to GDP: The sector contributed to 2.6% of

in a article published in Harvard Business Review in

EU GDP in 2003. In the same year real estate activities

1998. They developed the concept further in another



Scandinavia’s leading concert hall, VEGA by Jacob Dinesen

article titled: Welcome to the Experience Economy –

experiences. An experience occurs when a company

Work is theater & every business a stage, which was

uses services as the stage – and goods as props – for

published in 1999.

engaging individuals in a way that creates a memorable event. And while experiences have always been at

In this article, Pine and Gilmore, founders of the manage-

the heart of the entertainment business, any company

ment consulting firm Strategic Horizons, preview the

stages an experience when it engages customers in a

likely characteristics of the experience economy and

personal, memorable way.” Source: Harvard Business

the kinds of changes it will force companies to make.

Online, 2009

“First there was agriculture, then manufactured goods, and eventually services. Each change represented a step

It is not easy to precisely define the experience economy,

up in economic value – a way for producers to distinguish

as there are now many perceptions, angles and perspec-

their products from increasingly undifferentiated com-

tives relating to the term. Consequently, there has

petitive offerings. Now, as services are in their turn

been various political initiatives and the business sector

becoming commoditised, companies are looking for

has approached it with some scepticism. The approach

the next higher value in an economic offering. Leading-

to the experience economy will necessarily vary, depend-

edge companies are finding that it lies in staging

ing on standpoint and intention.

There is great potential for providing experiences where the combination of culture and business opens up for a whole new economy. A company can set itself apart from its competition by offering customers a unique and staged experience: Is the legendary restaurant El Bulli (Best Restaurant in the World, 2006 and 2007 – Restaurant Magazine) north of Barcelona offering a meal or a unique, themed experience involving all senses? The fact that over half a million people try to book one of the only 8 000 available seats, points to the fact that there is more to it than great cooking of celebrated chef, Fernando Adrià Acosta, who has often been hailed as the Salvador Dali of the kitchen. This approach creates a new economy where Function + Quality + Experience = Market Value.

Governments have recognised the potential of the cultural and creative industries, but are struggling to find the right policy mix and strategy. Some examples include: › L ight tower strategy, as in the Guggenheim Bilbao in Bilbao. pecialisation strategy, trying to create the next › S creative cluster such as Hollywood. eighbourhood strategy, as the Chaoyang business › N district in Beijing. ntrepreneur strategy, focusing on the many small › E and medium-sized companies in the sector. › Knowledge strategy, all levels of education, from

The experience economy helps cultural businesses, institutions, cities and regions, as well as traditional businesses to integrate culture and business, in order to create new products and develop existing ones.

Experience Economy in a value chain perspective

music in schools to life-long learning – which might explain Sweden’s success in the music business. › E vent strategy, attracting the next MTV Award or creating cultural festivals. › Framework strategy, supporting the cultural and creative sector with the business-oriented policies.

What is experience economy? Organisational driver >

Marketing >

Add-on services >

Design >

Pure experience >

Experience used to create dynamics in the organisation.

Experience used to improve marketing and sales.

Experience is an additional or supplemental product.

Design shapes the products, content and function and is part of the experience.

The product is an experience in itself.

Examples: Art/ business collaboration, team-building and promoting innovation.

Examples: Advertising, interactive campaigns and games.

Examples: Customer clubs and communities.

Examples: Fashion and design.

Examples: Travel, cultural events, music and movies.

Increasing value and importance for core business. Source: Ramboll Management Consulting, 2006. formation


In Denmark, there have been three waves of policy

Some € 67 million has been set aside for the Center for

initiatives in the area. The first in 2000 with the report

Culture & Experience Economy and € 5,4 million for the

Denmark’s creative potential that concluded that the

experience zones. Both the Ministry of Culture and

need for creative competencies in the business sector

the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs provide

are an important element for growth. The next initiative

the funding which shows the cross-sectoral nature of

was published in 2003 with the launch of Denmark in

the field.

the culture and experience economy, urging policy makers to promote the synergy between the culture

The Centre for Culture & Experience Economy will

and business sectors and realise the potential in the

promote and support collaboration between the business

culture and experience economy.

and cultural sectors. The aim is to make businesses more competitive internationally through experience-

In 2007 a political agreement involving both the govern-

based business development – or innovation driven by

ment and opposition parties in the parliament, launched

the creative competencies in the cultural and creative

two new initiatives. The first was establishing a Center

industries. For designers, architects and many others

for Culture & Experience Economy to support collabora-

their work is business.

tion between the business and cultural sectors and innovation through experience-based business development. The second initiative was creating four sector-specific experience zones, grouping together

About the Center for Culture and Experience Economy

stakeholders on all levels in the four areas of gaming,

The Center for Culture and Experience Economy (CCEE)

music, fashion and food.

is a public independent institution, established in 2008 by the Danish Ministry of Economics and Business

The following year, the Ministry of Economics and

Affairs and The Ministry of Culture.

Business Affairs published the study Growth Through

Experiences (available at

The CCEE’s aim is to promote growth through better


cooperation between businesses and the cultural and

presenting a number of projects where the cultural

creative sectors – and to strengthen the business com-

sector and the traditional business sectors collaborate

petencies of actors in the cultural sector.

and together develop new experiences in products and services. The cultural sector contributes with creative

The CCEE will gather and generate new knowledge

competencies and sees its own business competen-

about experience-based business development involving

cies strengthened in the process. The report analyses

both the business and cultural sectors. CCEE’s vision

the methods and presents cases of experience-based

is to advance the potential of culture and experience

business development creating commercial results

in businesses, and improve conditions for growth in

for the companies.

as a whole.

The CCEE’s target groups are broadly businesses and organisations that can benefit from integrating and

About the author

using creative competencies and elements of experience in products and services, as well as players in the cultural life who wish to engage in cooperation with businesses. CCEE’s work includes the following five main tasks: › Project support: Initiating and supporting projects which strengthen cooperation and exchange of competencies between the cultural/creative sector and businesses. › Promotion: Promoting the culture and experience economy and strengthening the cooperation between the institutions and stakeholders in this sector. › Knowledge: Gathering and generating knowledge, including from abroad, as well as promoting this

Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning is managing director of

knowledge to the public, to the cultural life and

Center for Culture & Experience Economy. He has 15


years of broad international experience in areas such

› Guidance: Giving guidance for businesses who wish to work with experience-based business development and creative competencies, and for players in the cultural arena who wish to engage in interaction with businesses.

as the cultural and creative industries, media, and European Union public affairs. He has substantial expertise in strategic consultancy and business development. He has been official speaker for the European Commission on issues related to media and culture for over ten years and is lecturer for the

› Assessment: Assessing consequences and perspec-

university-level course ‘Creative Industries: Business,

tives regarding culture and experience economy

Innovation, Politics & Culture’. He is board member

and focusing on commercial opportunities for

of the Danish Cultural Institute and Scandinavia’s

businesses using experiences.

leading concert hall, VEGA. <

For more information, contact the CCEE at Tel: +45 4674 0290 or E-mail



The power of industrial design in Africa By Tasos Calantzis

# Africa’s vibrant design industry comes as a surprise when outsiders first discover it. Typical impressions of the ‘Dark Continent’ don’t usually include one of the world’s best advertising and communication design industries where local studios regularly make off with Clios and Cannes Lions. Other creative industries do equally well; Newsweek called South Africa the number one destination for fashion design in 2004 and a small but increasingly recognised jewellery design industry is on the move.


ne gets the feeling that the world may be warming to a dose of earthy, rich, African flavour. From London to Dubai to Singapore, African designers are being noticed, but at first glance the euphoria doesn’t seem to have extended to industrial design on the continent. To understand why, it’s worth understanding when no design at all may suffice as well as understanding the value of style. It’s worth re-examining those old chestnuts; form and function, as well as the knotty question of solving problems; and it’s worth looking at the novel idea of achieving leadership through design.

No design, thanks Many designers will tell you with a straight face that design is the most important factor for any business, which is obviously just not true. Design evangelists may be aghast at such a statement but it is possible that design is just not a real requirement for some companies. For example, a company may simply have much more pressing operational problems than design. For design to be effective, quality and cost must be under control, engineering, inventory and supply chain must be efficient and marketing and sales must be in working order. Design may also be considered fundamental to a company’s functioning but it may simply not be the priority yet. A company could be functioning effectively but be working in an utterly commoditised area. Should the manufacturer of the yellow triangles that cleaning staff

around the world use to warn of slippery floors be looking for a design edge? There’s no doubt that the most moribund industry (coffins anyone?) can be attacked with design. Indeed these are often the juiciest targets for an ambitious company daring to redefine an industry, much like OXO did with its Good Grips line of kitchen utensils. The question is just whether this is a sure-fire requirement for every dull, worthy market. On the far end of the spectrum, highly sophisticated companies working in high technology areas could also see design as a less than strategic tool. Design thinker Steve Portigal has noted the irony of Flextronics, the $18bn global ODM, being voted one of the Wired 40 based on its design ambitions. In fact Flextronics caused a little seismic event amongst designers a few years ago when then CEO, Michael Marks announced to the world that design had become a commodity and was no longer a strategic advantage. This was shortly after the acquisition of Frog, the celebrated boutique shop and was duly followed by the shedding of Frog. Only time will tell how prophetic Marks’ words turn out to be. There are also cases where some other advantage; massive scale, superior reach, hyper vertical integration and so on, confers an advantage that design simply can’t match. However, these advantages boil down to cost. And cost is where the discussion winds up. For without design the reliable tools of quality and efficiency strive to lower the price without any hope of raising it sustainability. So there may be exceptions but for most companies another tool is required; one that can break the zero-sum game of cost-driven competition.



Style The most familiar image of design is one of a creator of style. In fact, despite the many other meaningful things that design can do, it could be argued that infusing products with designer style is the core competence of design. So we enter a discussion about beauty and the value of beauty. Cultures value style differently, which matters in understanding when design can be successfully exported across borders. When cultures meet, the results can be surprisingly beautiful, such as Capetonian Willard Musarurwa’s collaboration with New York-based Steven Burks on the Tatu range of wire furniture for Artechnica.

Similarly, Gaboronian Peter Mabeo’s collaboration with Patty Johnson from Toronto has produced a range of furniture that has been described as “stunning in its simplicity”. Commercially, these products have great value for their ability to woo customers but to artists, designers and all aesthetes, creating beauty is in itself valuable. In the world of designers, few are able to marry the high art of original, iconic style with the depth of technical and commercial abilities needed to succeed with complex consumer products. As successful as Michael Graves has been working together with Target designing coat hooks and wall clocks, his range of consumer electronics was a failure. Even Yves Behar of Fuseproject,

Gaboronian Peter Mabeo’s collaboration with Patty Johnson from Toronto has produced a range of beautifully simple furniture such as the Simple Bench and Chair.

who has an apparently technically competent portfolio, commented in a revealing interview that the $100 laptop project was much more difficult for his studio than their regular work designing slick lifestyle products. There is a downside to designer style. If style is the only reason for using design, the gain can turn out to be short term. Style is easy to copy (just ask Alessi) and in many cases requires constant revision as trends move on. Attractive or distinctive style does offer a business a significant advantage over competitors whose style is less so. It places the company near the head of the pack and can sometimes stop commoditisation and purely cost-driven competition.


Gaboronian Peter Mabeo’s collaboration with Patty Johnson from Toronto has produced a range of beautifully simple furniture such as the Maun Windsor chair.

If only designing successful new products was always as easy as making the new one work better than anything before it. Every product manager knows that it’s not – but not all designers do. Their training is in making things look and work better. What designers would call incremental functional improvement is one part of creating successful design, but it’s not enough to ensure success. That’s why adding blades to razors has been such a game of diminishing returns. Clearly there are good reasons to make something that works better than any competitor. This is the beginning of innovation. But that still doesn’t take us out of five-blade razor territory. The improvement must be much bigger than that. As Doug Hall of American inventor fame repeatedly points out, a big reason why many products fail is the ordinary person’s resistance to change. This means that a new

Willard Musarurwa collaborated with New York designer Stephen Burks to create the Tatu range of wire furniture.



The Arivi paraffin stove, designed by Readymade, is safe and efficient. Malawian William Kamkwamba built his family a windmill out of scrap to power two lightbulbs and a radio when he was 14 years old.

X7 2.jpg – Henk & I have collaborated with Zodiac on a range of award-winning pool cleaners.


San Francisco-based Project H collaborated with South African Grant Gibbs to redesign his Hippo Roller.


design has to be an extraordinary improvement over previous designs before someone is persuaded to give it a try. For example, the South African Arivi Paraffin Stove is designed to be completely safe in use by extinguishing its flame when knocked over and also producing very low emissions. The stove goes further though; saving users up to 32% of their fuel bill compared with older stove types. This type of design-minded improvement over existing devices is well in evidence across the African continent, notably in Henk & I’s long running series of awardwinning pool cleaners for Zodiac.

Solving problems

Amy Smith from Massachusetts Institute of Technology runs design projects to benefit Africans, including this wheelchair.

TED fellow, Amy Smith from Massachusetts Institute of Technology runs design projects ranging from stoves

Using design to improve the way things look and work

to wheelchairs in a mission to use design to save millions

may be an old-fashioned notion but it has served industry

of lives. It seems that using design to improve the lives

well for the whole of the last century and these remain

of Africans is attractive to many others such as San

some of the things that designers do best.

Francisco-based Project H who have collaborated with South African Grant Gibbs to redesign his Hippo

In this century, however, more is being asked of design;

Water Roller to be more cost effective.

it is being asked to meet the growing need for creative problem-solving in all spheres of life. This was antici-

Luckily, it turns out that this kind of design thinking is

pated in the previous century by the Bauhaus, the

well suited to solving all sorts of problems that don’t

Eamses and Bucky Fuller; but happily formal design

involve products. Organisations, both commercial and

training is not a prerequisite to apply design to prob-

non-commercial, looking for a steadier advantage have

lems. Malawian William Kamkwamba built his family

turned, amongst other things, to design. For example, the

a windmill out of scrap to power two light bulbs and

Praekelt Foundation worked with National Geographic,

a radio when he was 14 years old. His moving story

Nokia Siemens Networks, iTeach, Frog Design and

was brought to world attention when he spoke at TED

MTN to create Project Masiluleke, a mobile phone system

Global, the famous innovation conference. Another

that fights HIV/AIDS.



This type of organisation has had to start to figure out how

These are companies who aim to be the absolute

to think ahead of the field instead of merely reacting

leaders in their industries; unique and far ahead of

to change, especially with human behaviour. It’s probably

their competitors. They have discovered that the

true that design’s main advantage over other types of

tactical ability of solving business problems with design

problem solving is its ability to understand people’s

creates successes that can be knitted together with

needs and meet them in practical and desirable ways. To

an internal culture of innovation to create a strategic

do this, designers observe real people in real situations.

tool. For these leaders, design has become integrated

As humans, our actions betray needs that are simply too

into the business as a C-level function.

obvious to mention, sometimes pointing out unexplored day-to-day problem areas. This is where astute designers are able make life much richer. That’s not to say that design could supplant other types of problem solving, just that design could be thought of as a permanent, legitimate organisational function. This has changed design’s day-to-day role from thinking about individual products to also thinking about systems.

In organisations like these, one finds a system of design thinking. A robust design process produces individual ideas which are carefully considered to meet latent user needs and therefore ahead of current thinking. These form part of well-designed systems which solve problems. Finally, design thinking is applied by individuals across the organisation, transforming the organisation. It is this last layer of design thinking that contains the

All of which makes for a distinct advantage. However this does not yet add up to leadership in a field. For that, design needs to be a strategic tool.


true advantage. Design is not an activity that is owned by designers. It is merely a profitable use of creativity. It can be learnt and applied by anyone in any organisation. This is part of its power. Used correctly, design thinking can give any person in the organisation a new ability to create dramatically increased value.

In many cases a link can be found between how effec-

And this is perhaps where indigenous African examples

tively design is used in an organisation and the overall

are least in evidence. When Nokia decided to expand

success of that organisation.

aggressively in Africa, it used design in all of the ways discussed so far to crack open a massive market for its

A short list of global organisations who are undisputed

phones and outstrip the growth of its competitors. The

leaders could include Nike, Apple, Proctor & Gamble,

process clearly works on this continent.

Nokia, Toyota and Samsung. In each case, success can be attributed to other factors but the influence of

Design has the ability to create products, services and

design has been integral.

experiences that have never existed before. When



people all over the organisation are thinking in this way, the true originality of their ideas cannot be predicted. Competitors can only follow because the organisation is continuously disrupting the field. Design is not the only way of disrupting the field but design has a great ability to be used in collaboration with other areas of expertise. That’s why it works so well with branding, advertising, engineering and architecture and other fields; to the point that it sometimes becomes indistinguishable from them. That is perhaps the point. Design may be described and used in many ways but all it really is, is creating something with deliberate intent. That is the ability to conceive something new and valuable like so many African designers are doing in so many fields. Perhaps we are witnessing the rise of designers who will bring the richness of the African soul to a grateful world, creating style, improving things, solving problems and along the way becoming leaders. <

TOP: Robert Fabricant, creative director of Frog Design, speaks about the product design involved in creating an accessible self-testing kit for HIV/AIDS patients as part of Project Masiluleke at Pop!Tech 2008. CENTRE: Gustav Praekelt describes the workings of Project Masiluleke’s SMS system, which uses widespread mobile device messaging to attract untested citizens to obtain information and HIV/AIDS testing kits at Pop!Tech 2008. RIGHT: A community participant in Nokia’s Open Studios from Accra, Ghana.



The Arterial Network Winter School 2009: Designing a network for creative industries in Africa By Melanie Harteveld Becker


he Arterial Network is network of individual artists, companies, administrators, NGOs, donors and other civil society members engaged in developing and promoting the African creative sector (music, theatre, craft, design, film, literature, visual arts, dance, and more). It was launched on Goiree Island in Senegal in March 2007 when representatives from 14 African countries gathered to determine what should and could be done to ensure Africa’s place within the global creative economy. One of the recent activities the Arterial Network was the 2009 Winter School that was hosted at the Charterfield Guest House, Kalk Bay, Cape Town. Delegates form 17 African countries attended the Winter School in June. African countries represented were Zambia, Mozambique, Uganda, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Mali, Kenya, Namibia, Cameroon, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Senegal. The primary purpose of the 2009 Winter School was to extend the network for African creative industries by building capacity, providing information, facilitating contacts between activists from different countries and working towards building in-country networks that would feed into regional networks and ultimately a Pan African network of artists’ and creative industries’ networks. These will then become the voice of civil society to work with governments, multi-lateral agencies and international bodies to achieve the vision of a vibrant, sustainable African creative sector. The Arterial Network engaged in a process of design leadership when they planned the 2009 Winter School. Since design leadership is a proactive process that leads from a vision into a process of communication to attain the needs, accomplish changes and seeking of creative solutions to a given scenario. Design leadership describes future needs and chooses a certain direction to get to that described future. Thus, the vision of the Arterial Network to design a suitable and functional network for creative industries in Africa, complies with a design leadership process.

TOP: Back row, LTR are Emad Mabrouk (Egypt), Josh Nyapimbi (Zimbabwe), Maggie Otieno (Kenya), Deji Etiwe (Nigeria) and Mike van Graan (head of the Arterial Network Secretariat). Middle row: Igo Diarra (Mali), Melanie Harteveld Becker (Namibia), Bandile Gumbi (South Africa), Abdon Yezi (Zambia), Khadija El Bennaoui (Morocco), Peter Musa (Cameroon), Yarame Ndiaye (Senagal), Yvette Hardie (South Africa), Patrick Mudekereza (DRC), David Kwao-Sarbah (Ghana), Rasina Winfred Rasina (Botswana). Front row: Melanie Cournot (Arterial Network), Abel Dabula (Mozambique), Anita Seruwagi (Uganda), Margerie Vacle (Arterial Network) and Oumarou Sanfo (Burkina Faso). ABOVE: Down to business in Kalk Bay.

The actual design of the Network involved the setting up of a first-class plan and a programme was followed where facilitators introduced the participants to applicable theoretical information such as existing plans, policies and recommendations for the creative industries on the African continent. Participants were further introduced to new methods of creative industry management, formation

34 > CREATIVE ECONOMY The outcome was that a well-designed network will look at: representation of the right people, rather inclusive than exclusive, in order to reach a number of people; focused purpose or vision; effective communication – internal as well as external; collaboration and support to its members; involving a process of research to determine the need before the network is started; visibility via actual events and activities; establishing partnerships with other networks; maintaining and mobilising resources continuously; sharing of knowledge and experiences; respect for democracy and accountability; achieving financial and infrastructural sustainability; commitment and passion to achieve the vision; relevance and appropriateness of campaigns; management of an efficient headquarter; strong industrial and commercial awareness and leadership to execute the vision.

DESIGN > interviewed Mike van Graan (South Africa), head of the Secretariat of the Arterial Network. D > What did the Arterial Network achieve to date? TOP: Participants in the Winter School playing the entrepreneurship board game. ABOVE: The Winter School group on a visit to the BaxterTheatre in Cape Town.

including lobbying skills, creative cultural entrepreneurship, the use of new technologies in order to promote networks and so on. The plan also engaged the input of all the participants in order to establish suitable guidelines of how this network will be implemented. Since design management and design leadership depend on each other, design management needs design leadership to know where to go and design leadership needs design management to know how to go there, the 2009 Winter School facilitators and participants engaged in a process of design management while designing a suitable network for African creative industries. One of the topics discussed and brain-stormed in the was the question around what makes a good network.

MvG > The Arterial Network founding conference identified a range of challenges and projects were initiated and funds raised to address these. Thus far, we have run in-service training courses for arts journalists to improve critical engagement with the arts, produced a monthly newsletter distributed to an increasing database on the continent and around the world, launched a comprehensive website on the arts of Africa that serves as a directory on the arts in each country, conducted research into the economic impact of the arts in Africa, initiated work towards the establishment of a trans-national African Fund for Arts and Culture and hosted a winter school for delegates from 17 countries in order to build arts advocacy groups on the continent. D > How were the candidates selected for this Winter School and what role were they supposed to play? MvG > Delegates were recruited through existing networks and through applications that were sought via our newsletter. We received more than 90 applications

and selected 17 in this first round. We have funding for similar workshops over the next two years and hope to cover at least 37 countries, the intention being that we will ultimately have 25 to 30 active in-country networks affiliated to regional and continental networks. Delegates shared experiences from their particular countries but essentially were there to engage around how to build networks in their countries after the Winter School. D > How did you plan the programme of the Winter School and can you elaborate on the design of the plan? MvG > The programme was designed to do four things: 1. Provide theoretical input for delegates so that they were introduced to key documents such as the Belgrade Recommendation on the Status of the Artist, the Nairobi Plan of Action on the Cultural Industries and the UNESCO Convention on the Promotion and Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, all of which provide a great basis for lobbying our governments who are signatories to these documents. 2. Provide delegates with hard skills such as the use of the Internet for marketing purposes, cultural entrepreneurship insights, lobbying skills, and more. 3. Allow delegates to work together on particular projects so that they ‘practiced’ for the real world, as it were. 4. Facilitate networking so that people who did not know each other would establish relationships that would enhance networking after the Winter School. Then, of course, there was also time for delegates to experience various tourist and cultural elements of the host city, Cape Town. D > Would you agree that the Arterial Network Winter School was a process involving design management that resulted in the development of a suitable network for creative industries in Africa?

MvG > Essentially, the Winter School was a response to a need identified for sustainable civil society voices, partners and networks on the continent and the Winter School was designed – both in content and as part of a broader strategy – to address this need. It’s early days, but I believe that this has been a significant intervention towards the development of a sustainable network for the African creative sector. D > What are the most significant outcomes of the Winter School? MvG > Eighteen people from 17 countries now have a better understanding of the Arterial Network and have expressed a commitment to helping to develop the network in their countries in pursuit of the broader vision i.e. a sustainable and vibrant African creative sector. Then, there was also the networking and the provision of databases from each country that have now been added to our database and website to increase the amount of information about the arts on the continent and to facilitate increased networking. One of the key outcomes is a strong recommendation that the Arterial Network formalises itself as a legal entity and that it sustains its growing brand through a range of in-country, regional and continental activities. And, there is the basis for a plan as to how to proceed with this. D > Were the objectives of the Winter School met and how do you envisage the outcome of the Winter School will benefit creative industries in Africa? MvG > Based on the evaluations done by participants at the end of the Winter School, we believe the objectives for those ten days were largely met. The ultimate aim of the Winter School – to build networks – this will only be tested in a year’s time. I have no doubt, though, that numerous other initiatives will take off such as cultural entrepreneurship training using the cultural entrepreneurship board game that was used at the Winter School. <





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in south and southern africa, like elsewhere on the globe, computer and video games are a popular pastime and provide young and old with their cyber fix along with a good dollop of escapism. So, whether you like them or not, approve of them or not, they are firmly entrenched in our computergenerated landscape and are more likely than not here to stay.


ver since the development in the early sixties of Spacewar!, credited as the first ever computer game in the world, the scene was set for what was to become an addiction to

some and a source of huge concern to others. The industry responded to the demand and the proliferation of computer and video games that followed was astounding. For many computer games have long been a source of controversy. Concerns relate particularly to the violence that has become commonly associated with video gaming in Africa the video game. Images by Rapid Reality/ Africast Global Media.


40 > TECHNOLOGY general. The debate centres around the influence of objectionable content on the social development of minors, with organisations such as the American Psychological Association concluding that video game violence increases children’s aggression. Industry groups have responded by emphasising the responsibility of parents A demonstration of BugzVilla, an iPhone game developed by Leti Games.

in governing their children’s activities, while attempts in the United States to control the sale of objectionable games have generally been found unconstitutional. Video game addiction is another cultural aspect of gaming to draw criticism as it can have a negative influence on health and on social relations. Alongside the social and health problems associated with computer game addiction have grown similar worries about the effect of computer games on education. In the light of these concerns, the emergence of a new generation of games in South and southern Africa is heartening. Aimed at educating and enlightening, they make a welcome change from the earlier seek-anddestroy focus of many games. Researchers at the Meraka Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) have released

Safari Photo Africa: Wild Earth.

South Africa’s first computer spelling game in all 11 official South African languages. The game, OpenSpell, can be adapted for additional languages and is the inspiration of visiting American researcher and linguist, Dr Madelaine Plauché, who has been working in the human language technologies (HLT) research group. Version V1.00 of OpenSpell is available for downloading and comprises two parts: a simple interactive computer-based activity that can be set at three levels (easy, medium and hard) and an editor that allows a

OpenSpell, South Africa’s first computer spelling game in all 11 official languages. formation

tutor to edit the keyboard and record sounds. “Anyone can use the software to customise it to a language or

SECTION > 41 dialect,” Plauché explains. Feedback to learners is in

a prototype iPhone game called BugzVilla in which the

the form of ‘fun’ rewards or penalties.

player must tap the screen to crush insects, earning points and completing levels. The game offers many

And then there’s the grandson of a Ghanaian king and

clever and innovative features. Shaking the iPhone

a 19-year-old programmer in Atlanta who both agree

releases more bugs, red ants bite the player’s finger and

on one thing: The Western world doesn’t understand

‘clever’ bugs run away when players make an error.

Africa. Their solution is to make a video game about the continent, providing an opportunity to delve into a

While partners Eyram Tawia of Ghana and Wesley Kiriinya

land of 13th century African civilisation and mythology,

of Kenya are happy with their product and plan more,

crossing the virtual Sahara on a camel, journeying to

the two African game developers also wish to see more

Timbuktu and fighting as a Zulu warrior against the

game and software developers on the continent. “We

lion equivalent of a werewolf. This game promises to

would like to help grow this industry in Africa, establish

provide an African experience like no other.

support in the universities and eventually even have Masters Degrees in Game Design offered all over the

Another game with the same destination in mind is


Safari Photo Africa: Wild Earth. You’ll be sent on a mission to take photos of herds of wildlife in their native

If training and development in the industry is encouraged

habitat. Animal lovers and young gamers alike can find

and opportunities created, the game industry can only

something to enjoy in this game.For those still

grow from strength to strength. <

contemplating the ultimate African game, Joshua Dallman’s insightful analysis of the game industry in South Africa, following a six-month game-designing stint, will prove useful. He was particularly impressed with the wide use of cell phones in the country describing



it as “the mass market game platform of choice”. However, while the cell phone networks and coverage in South Africa rival those of the best in the world, he found Internet access by contrast extremely limited.



Internet is slow, rare, and expensive. He summed it up as: “not a good combination for game developers looking to the internet as the future of the industry.” For a full analysis, visit his blog at highlighted at the end of


this article. The iPhone platform’s portability appealed to the Ghanaian-based company Leti Games. The company


which was launched in early 2009 has already produced formation


The economics of design promotion


nowledge and creativity are becoming powerful drivers of economic growth in a globalised world. This fact was not only expounded in the United Nations’ Creative Economy Report 2008, but has been the topic for academic debate in the past few years. Prof. Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto has stated that the design economy had emerged as the successor to the information economy, which in turn succeeded the manufacturing and service economies. Martin affirms that real value is now created from using the designer’s foremost competitive weapon – his imagination – to devise solutions to problems. In a global economy, elegant design has become a critical competitive advantage. This was emphasised by South African designer Brian Steinhobel when he presented his range of taps designed for the South African company Cobra at a recent forum event. He spent 14 years trying to convince this 50-odd-year-old company that eloquent and purposeful design could turn the company’s fortunes around – especially with a huge influx of taps coming from China in the recent past. Cobra eventually bowed to Steinhobel’s wooing, resulting in a range of industrial-designed taps that has been marketed with the designer’s name as its competitive edge. Through

design Cobra has made a significant imprint on the South African plumbing supply market. But back to the academic debate – and more specifically the debate about the role of design promotion as a vehicle for economic growth. Prof. John Heskett, professor in the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, focuses his research at present on how design creates economic value and what should be contained in governmental and corporate design policies to drive economic growth. Other areas of his teaching and consultancy include the relationship between design and innovation, the problems of successfully changing the nature of markets and the problems of design in global markets. Heskett postulates that promoting technology and design has become a means of gaining economic advantage by enhancing national competitiveness. For the past 40 years, the SABS Design Institute has promoted the benefits of good design to stimulate economical and technological development, with the aim of creating prosperity for all South Africans. The Institute’s initiatives focus on education, industry support, marketing South African design and supporting the development of southern Africa, within the wider context of the African continent.

How design promotion translates into economic gain The UN’s Creative Economy Report 2008 states that the creative industries – of which design is most definitely part – have profound implications for trade and development in developing countries. Together with technology, the creative industries open up a huge potential to create wealth and employment possibilities that are in line with wider trends in the global economy. However, carefully formulated policy strategies are needed for developing countries to realise this potential. Governments should take strategic action at local, national and regional levels and cooperate with other countries internationally. The SABS Design Institute’s design promotion activities rest on four pillars – all four of them aimed at creating wealth and wellbeing through design. The first pillar is that of promoting leadership amongst young designers. Design leadership is imperative for momentum to grow the industry. Through the SABS Design Institute’s education initiatives young designers are groomed into leadership roles through the Design Achievers programme. Back in 1987, the Design Achievers Award was born of the

LTR: David Blyth speaking at the Africa Day 2008 conference; Presentation at the Design Summit 2008; Adrienne Viljoen and Prof. Carlos Carlos Hinrichsen at the 2008 SABS Design Excellence Awards exhibition; and guests viewing the 2005 Prototype exhibition at South African Reserve Bank.

belief that opportunities should be created for young designers to define the future and to prove that South Africa is a country with great creative potential. Design Achievers is a unique award scheme insofar as it not only recognises design talent, but also seeks out and awards leadership in design and entrepreneurial potential. The Institute believes that the design leaders of tomorrow will be instrumental in promoting and stimulating our country’s design, innovation and technology industries.

Design promotion for development The second leg of the Design Institute’s design promotion activities centres on design for development. Projects include the Prototype initiative, where fledgling designers are pointed in the right direction through consultations with industrial designers, intellectual property consultants and fund managers, Idea to Product seminars and participating in international Interdesign formation


LTR: Prototype exhibition at the South African Reserve Bank in 2006; Participants of the Interdesign 2005 interact with the local community; Presentation of prototypes developed during the Interdesign 2005; and the 2006 Design for Development exhibition.

Strategic Framework for 2009 to 2014, in July this year, one of the objectives stated in the framework was to improve mobility and access of rural communities – both of which are critical for enhanced socio-economic activity and, broadly, a better quality of life.

workshops. These projects have positioned the SABS Design Institute as a champion for design-for-development initiatives.

The UN’s Creative Economy Report 2008 demonstrates that the creative industries are a potential source of real development gains for countries in the developing world. The report states, however, that such gains cannot be achieved in a vacuum. They require carefully formulated policy strategies that recognise the complexities of the interaction between economic, cultural, technological and social dimensions of the development process and that are implemented on a multiagency basis.

The Icsid Interdesign workshop on Sustainable Rural Transport was organised by the Design Institute in 2005. Together with local communities in the Rustenburg area of the North-West Province, professional designers – from South Africa and abroad – focussed on existing rural transport problems and looked at ways in which appropriate technology and good design could be harnessed to provide solutions for sustainable rural transport for developing communities. A number of the design concepts created during the workshop were developed into prototypes. Rural communities tested the prototypes for functionality and social acceptability and the successful prototypes will be handed over to the Department of Transport in August. This project was visionary. When Trevor Manuel, Minister of Planning in the Presidency, released the Medium Term

Design promotion for economic growth A popular misconception is that all developing countries experience the same problems. This is just not true. That is why a uniform package of policy measures that will fit all circumstances on a one-size-fits-all basis would just not work. The Creative Economy Report, however, offers overall features of policy strategies that are likely to apply in most developing-country situations.


These include the need for strengthening the infrastructure that supports the creative economy; the desirability of capacity-building to ensure that countries can continue to oversee the development of their creative economies on a sustainable basis; and the critical role of finance and investment in areas where the government can play an important facilitating role. Then there are also the desirability of adopting measures to expand the exports of creative products and to foster import replacement, especially with respect to audiovisuals; the need for appropriate copyright legislation and the

administrative infrastructure to provide effective enforcement; and the importance of protecting the fundamental artistic and cultural resources on which the creative economy depends. As stated above, expanding export of creative products should be high on the policy-making strategies of developing countries. For the past 40 years, the SABS Design Institute has worked tirelessly to award South Africandesigned products and thus marketing them to the world and enhancing their export potential.

LTR: SABS Design Excellence Awards exhibitions in 2007 and 2008. formation

46 > DESIGN PROMOTION the average number of jobs; and made up of small and medium enterprises, the drivers of economic growth.

Design promotion for regional growth

Exhibition at the Design Achievers Awards 2009.

By evaluating and awarding South African designed products, the Design Institute deems that the bar will be lifted and that South Africa can become a major player in product design globally. In his book The Rise of the Creative Class, Canadian writer Richard Florida argues that human creativity is the ultimate economic resource. The ability to come up with new ideas and better ways of doing things ultimately raise productivity and thus, in turn, living standards. The SABS Design Excellence Awards scheme aims to do just that – awarding product designers who have come up with new ideas and better ways of doing things. Design and creativity are drivers of the economy, not just through the stimulation of new ideas and innovation, but also in their potential to generate wealth and create jobs. The creative industries are, generally, knowledge intensive, involving highly skilled workers; labour intensive, creating more than

T: +27 (0) 12 428 6326 F: +27 (0) 12 428 6546 E: W:

The Design Institute has been the driving force behind the Network of Africa Designers (NAD), established in 1999. The vision for this initiative has been to network with stakeholders involved with design in Africa to foster design for the sustainable development of the continent. By organising regular African Design Days and including design students from all over the continent in the Design Achievers workshops, the Design Institute has been spreading the word that design will make a difference in the way the world perceives the African continent. Through regular NAD events, professional designers from South Africa have been forging ties with likeminded professionals from other African countries and to see what was happening design-wise on the rest of the continent. The creative economy seems here to stay, as it has sustainability as its cornerstone. This bodes well for the design industry, as for the rest of the creative industries. Time will tell whether the creative economy will deliver on its promises. In the meantime, the Design Institute will continue promoting South African design for the benefit of all sections of the community. <


Potentials design seminar: Towards a social design mindseT By Melanie Harteveld Becker


he Pambili Association was founded in 2005 to introduce the concept of social design in certain Namibian communities. Since then the association has been involved in design and craft training and marketing. Pambili follows the approach of educating and empowering young designers, craft designers, producers, students and professionals so that they become aware, involved and active in social design issues. The focal points are on fashion, jewellery and interior design activities and product development. One of the activities Pambili engaged in the previous five years was the introduction of the Potentials design seminar in Namibia. The first Potentials was hosted in February 2006 at the Omba Gallery in Windhoek where some 30 participants engaged in a design training seminar and exhibition that included nine case studies presented by professional designers and design cases from Namibia, Indonesia, Finland, Lapland and Colombia. The theme of the first Potentials seminar simply focussed on design potentials in developing communities. The second Potentials seminar was hosted in June 2007 at Studio 77, Windhoek, and the cross-cutting theme selected was social design. This seminar introduced the concept of action station through which the participants were rotated through six action stations – each introducing a certain approach towards social design. Potentials 2 resulted in a publication, Design your Action. The exhibition included six case studies that were presented by professional designers and included design cases from Namibia, Brazil, Finland and Chile. Day 1 of the Potentials 3 workshop. formation

48 > DESIGN PROMOTION The third Potentials workshop was hosted in June 2009 at Studio77, as well as the Pambili studios, Windhoek. The workshop brought together students, entrepreneurs and other professionals from the craft and design fields and the cross-cutting theme of this workshop was design management. The exhibition included the outcome of the eight action stations that were facilitated by professional designers from Namibia and Finland. One of the aims of the Potentials 3 workshop was to strengthen networks between Namibian and Finnish design schools and universities, as well as between Namibian and Finnish designers, artisans and professionals. Other aims were the support national micro entrepreneurship through producing theoretical and practical knowledge and using design management to strengthen the practice of Namibian craft and design entrepreneurs, projects, associations and guilds. The two previous Potentials workshops had a more theoretical approach, concentrating on design theories and concepts. In Potentials 3 a more practical approach was followed where design concepts were developed. The participants created designs, mock-ups and prototypes with the assistance of the action station facilitators’ guidance, as well as their newly acquired theoretical and practical knowledge. The tutors guided the development and creation processes in line with a given action station task, relevant discussions, supplying different perspectives and making their expertise available. The action station concept that has been used in the previous Potentials workshops has been recognised to be an effective method for people from different disciplines to network, share ideas, study theory and practical skills together. The method has many advantages. Each station hosts producers, students and designers with different backgrounds. They learn from each other, sharing knowledge and experiences from the different disciplines that they represent. The station groups enjoy great advantages from this interdisciplinary approach to the given tasks and in

problem solving. Another advantage is that there is interaction between different stations as all are working under the same general theme and towards common goals. The first goal is to solve design problems in the various action stations according to the common theoretical theme and secondly, the practical results produced in the various action stations are jointly exhibited. The five-day Potentials 3 workshop consisted of eight different action stations, facilitated by 14 tutors from both Finland and Namibia. The tutors provided insights into various craft-design management tools and techniques. The facilitators hosted coherent stations by familiarising the participants with theoretical and practical aspects on the overall theme of Potentials 3, namely design management. On the first day all participants went through an orientation process in which they rotated through all eight stations. The tutors presented the theoretical background and practical tasks of their stations. On the second day the participants were divided into pre-selected groups in which they worked and learned for the remainder of the workshop. The participants were members of different communitybased craft projects, students from the University of Namibia, students from the College of the Arts, craft trainees and entrepreneurs. The melting pot included the tutors who were designers, professionals and design students, both from Namibia and Finland.

Jewellery design In the jewellery design station the participants were guided by an understanding of the symbolism found in objects of personal adornment. Participants learned the newly introduced techniques and all products designed and produced in this station were based on the designers’ personal memories and stories.

Fashion design In the fashion design station the participants were introduced to conceptualisation and planning of a

fashion shoot or presentation. The lessons learned from the preparation, planning and conceptualisation prepared students to be able to make associations during the photo shoot day. This newly acquired skill will help the participants on their journey to become skilled and professional designers.

Media station

Textile station The aim of the textile station was to learn how to make impressive fabrics using different techniques. All the participants learned that design originates from inspiration that is turned into a concept. Participants drew inspiration from their everyday lives for their textile designs.

In the media station the basic technical skills on how to use video as a design medium were introduced. Of special interest were the discussions on the rights and equality of women in both African society and the media industry. Human rights issues and life during and after apartheid were brought up as well.

Business gift design

TOP: Participants familiarising themselves with materials and jewellery making techniques. ABOVE: A group working at the fashion design station.

Participants finding inspiration at the fashion action station.

The station offered an intensive insight into business gift design, trying to answer a challenging brief given by two Namibian partnering companies: Corporate Connections and MTC. The participants created several product ideas, graphic elements and mock-ups based on guidelines provided, aiming to meet the needs of both customer companies. The most important outcomes of the station was the growing awareness of the participants about what business gifts are, what their purpose is and how to meet customers’ needs for specific or diverse target groups.



Design awareness

Graphic design

The design awareness action station’s participants produced several different prototypes and finished art pieces out of found and recycled material. Participants learnt to combine different recycled materials by producing functional objects and they became more aware of the material and how the production choices will impact on the environment.

Participants produced hand-made flyers and posters to promote the exhibition. Executing design by hand makes the creative thought process and implementation process more visible and tangible. Conceptual thinking and sketching are as important as design itself. Participants grasped the idea of design management to follow certain given rules, in this case the event color scheme.

Participant learning about camera techniques and directing at the media action station.

Day 3 at the textile action station.

Exhibition design station Participants of the exhibition design station realised the importance of planning and taking into consideration the exhibition interior, layout and decoration of the space. The station aimed at designing an entertaining exhibition experience that was created through planning the layout of the exhibition in harmonious sections

The business gift design action station produced mock-ups of business gifts for MTC.

The design awarness action station participants designed object made from found materials. formation

52 > DESIGN PROMOTION where the outcomes of the workshop were grouped

skills-sharing and cross fertilisation with regard to the

according to themes and action station results.

design management process.

Potentials Three turned out to be an efficient working

Networking opportunities amongst the participants

platform for many disciplines and media. Participants

were evident through the sharing of contact details

and tutors from the various stations not only cross-

on the final day of the workshop and the exhibition

communicated but also interacted amongst the stations.

opening. Most likely, various future co-operations have

All participants had different levels of skills and

been induced. The participants all learnt new design

knowledge and the tutors witnessed the production

concepts and prototypes were developed according

of many design ideas amongst the participants.

to the raised awareness of design management. Various

Participants advised each other from their personal

design management tools were developed in the action

perspectives. Students with a stronger background in

stations. The principle idea was to stress the importance

design processes co-worked with craft producers

of design leadership and design management and

who had stronger technical skills. This resulted in

the role they play in sustainable development. <

Participant finalising a design detail at the graphic design action station.

Opening of the Potentials 3 exhibition.


For more information or a complete brochure call toll free 08000 AVERY Email:


Green dynamics in Dubai By Chantal Ramcharan

Bigger, better, and most extraordinary, Dubai has recently been leading the pack in first-ofits-kind property developments. Nowhere in the world has dynamic architecture been applied to such an elaborate extent in an environmentally friendly manner as in Dubai. An 80-floor, 420 meter high structure planned to incorporate a 6-star hotel, offices, apartments and villas – the world’s first rotating skyscraper is still being touted to be completed by 2011. The developers are, however, keeping mum about the current status and construction kickoff.




Redefining building design Based on dynamic architecture concepts by Israeli-born, Italian architect, Dr David Fisher, the rotating structure will be powered by freely available, copious amounts of Arabian sunshine. Challenging traditional concepts of architecture, the tower will herald a new era of architecture, changing the look of cities and living concepts. The Rotating Tower will be the first 100% self-powered green building with the ability to generate electricity

Dr Fisher states: “Modern life is dynamic, so the space we are living in should be dynamic as well, adjustable to our needs that change continuously, to our concept of design and to our moods. Dynamic buildings will follow the rhythms of nature, changing their direction and shape, minute by minute, from sunrise to sunset, season to season, adjusting themselves to the environment. From now on, buildings will be alive, creating a fourth dimension of time, to become part of new architecture, and transforming the shape of the skylines of the world.”

for itself through the use of horizontal wind turbines and solar panels. With wind turbines fitted horizontally between each rotating floor, an 80-story building will have up to 79 wind turbine systems, making it a true green power plant. The Rotating Tower’s wind turbines are practically invisible and extremely quiet due to their special shape and their carbon-based fibre composition. It will constantly be in motion changing its doughnut shape as each floor will have the ability to move and rotate 360 degrees independently of each other. Not a Disneyland ride – but slow rotation offering changing views on a weekly basis. If initiated and completed, the Dynamic Rotating Tower will be the first ever skyscraper to be constructed through prefabrication, requiring 600 assembly employees and 80 technicians, as opposed to 2000 on-site construction workers. The independently rotating modules will be produced in an industrial factory set up in Jebel Ali, Dubai. Once completed each module will be trans-

The economic crunch has led to a multitude of project cancellations and postponements in the region, one of which being this amazingly innovative and trend setting project by developer Rotating Tower Dubai Development Limited. Tav Singh, director of Dubai Property Ring recently said that he is giving investors more time to come up with payments rather than push forward with construction. Other industry experts have expressed that delays on this project could be due to the time it takes to finalise safety requirements for such an extraordinary development.

UAE at the heart of renewable energy The Rotating Tower is merely a single example of environmentally friendly development efforts. Others include Dubai’s green communities and the Gulf state’s heavy investment in renewable energy. Abu Dhabi also had on its plans the development of an entire rotating city to be located on one of its islands!

ported to the construction site and assembled to a central core. A small portion of the building will be developed utilising traditional techniques to house

Although still regarded as a developing region, the UAE is taking guidance from the Kyoto Protocol principles by

elevators, staircases, plumbing and other utilities.

employing remarkable efforts towards energy efficiency.


58 > ARCHITECTURE Abu Dhabi has recently been awarded the host status for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) headquarters. This honour makes the UAE the first developing nation to be chosen in the history of international energy organisation locations. The importance of the selection goes beyond the UAE’s strategic and economic capacity. Outmatching both German and Austrian offers, the UAE has offered $135 million to sustain renewable energy projects in developing countries. The significance of IRENA lies in the fact that of the three international energy organisations (Opec, IAEA and IRENA), IRENA is responsible for shaping future energy prospects utilising inexhaustible resources such as solar, wind and waterfalls. Currently, renewable energy accounts for 3% of the international energy balance, compared to 80% of fossil energy. It is expected that this will climb to 30% by 2050. The UAE has, however, not been without criticism for its high carbon footprint due to energy-intensive desalination, air conditioning, and car usage. But they believe that this is their chance to give back and prove itself to the international community. Let’s hope that developments such as the rotating tower and green communities, which push the boundaries on design, green concepts, and engineering brilliance, still see the light of day. < All images © Dynamic ArchitectureTM, David Fisher Architect and Rotating Tower Technology International Limited.




A Don of Architecture By SunĂŠ Stassen

After completing his Masters in Architecture (Urban Design) at the University of California, Los Angeles, and spending another year as design associate at the office of AIA Gold Medallist Barton Myers, Beverly Hills, our home-grown Fulbright scholar, Don Albert returned home in 1999. What lay ahead was an interesting and challenging future in South Africa. formation


on Albert’s focus for his Masters degree is of great interest. During those days it was all about the pressing social and aesthetic issues, concerned with the emergence of large-scale develop-ments for emerging creatives and information-age industries which, might I add, are even more relevant today than before. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Conducting his research in South Africa, Malaysia, the US and Europe these new strategies for future work and living environments were based on typological, diagrammatic and computer-generated models that could simply be modified by inputs of specific environments and places.

Since his return Don has steered Don Albert & Partners towards a number of internationally published and awarded projects. And if you have never seen the award winning and impressive Millennium Tower or the Proud Heritage Clothing Campus both situated in Durban, you better get out there and take a look – especially because the Proud Heritage Clothing Campus has recently been published in Paidon’s World Atlas of 21st Century Architecture. This same structure has also received the KZNIA 2007 Award and the SAIA 2007 Merit Award. In addition to his professional commitments, having offices in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg, Don has an immense passion for sharing his knowledge and inspiring others, so it is never difficult to get this busy man to contribute. It is just in his nature. Between Cape Town and Durban I had the privilege to catch up with Don and asked him a few tough questions with regards to the current economic climate, the involvement and role of architecture and the direction he believes this industry should lead us. SS > Many of us passionately believe in the power of the creative industry and especially a rightful place for the creative economy. Most of us would like to think

that we talk the talk and walk the walk. But is this enough? What is your take on this and do you believe that this industry has the power to save the world, especially during the economic, environmental and social crises we face today? DA > To be honest, yes it must save the world, but it is not about design, design, design, as a lot of people make out. It is rather about collaborative working methods that allow for creativity, positive education, and ensuring participation from all stakeholders in development and consumer issues. The issue is fundamentally about lifestyle choices that affect the environment. We need to reduce energy consumption by looking at the bigger picture of how we live our lives, where we work, where we live and of course the transport we use. There is a macro-scale crisis about modern life that is unfolding and the creation of cutesy bric-a-brac that the so-called design industry thrives on is NOT the solution. SS > We are constantly made aware of the differences between first world, developing and third world countries. Most say that the creative industries are for the elite alone and have no place in a developing or third world country. What roles do you believe an industry like architecture can play, especially in a developing country like South Africa? DA > Firstly, we need to stop the bleeding to enable humanity’s survival – once we have stabilised the patient we then need to give it a reason to live – this is happening globally. I am not sure that the first world versus the third world simplification exists any more, so I would say globally – ‘functionality’ and ‘meaning/ beauty’ would have to go hand-in-hand. The art in design is what gives it its resonance – to enhance our lives. There is no point being alive without having uplifting beauty in man-made things, and preserving the beauty of the natural ones. SS > Today the whole frenzy around being a more responsible designer towards the environment and

< Don Albert (centre) and his team hard at work at their eye-catching Soundspace 1 offices in Cape Town. formation


The Millennium Tower in Durban.

developing social wellbeing for more communities are most definitely consuming everything we do, and rightfully so. How has this influenced the work you do, your selection of clients and specific projects you choose to get involved in, choice of materials and aesthetics of your design in general? DA > In general clients are more forthcoming with conscientious briefs these days, but to be honest I have not yet been able to employ at least 70% of my actual

training in terms of urban design and environmentally sustainable practices on account of the generally shortterm views of developers in South Africa. This is especially true for the banks – the very people who got us into the credit crisis! Until financiers and developers take a longer term view on returns on investment, we will continue to build the wrong kind of developments. SS > Do you find that different industries are working more towards integrated and collaborative strategies


The Organic House in Bishop’s Court, Cape Town, where renewable resources and solar energy were used as part of the sustainable design strategy.

to solve problems like the need for low-cost housing or for instance to strategise an infrastructure for Cape Town as one of the host cities for the FIFA World Cup? Or are industries and individual stakeholders still working in silos? DA > The realm of low-cost housing is poisoned by cultural perceptions that prevent the creation of medium and high-density housing in South Africa – which is the ONLY solution to the problem. Until government

and planners prevent the continual sprawl of single family residential developments – of all kinds – all attempts at jazzing up the ‘51/9’ model will simply not work, economically, or environmentally, and it doesn’t matter how collaborative that process is. It is fundamentally about space and access. Design Indaba persisted with their 10x10 low-cost housing project, at great expense and against the warning of a host of local architects on the basis of our dissatisfaction with the planning parameters into which they would be built formation

66 > ARCHITECTURE – and it has proved, yet again, that the model of lowcost freestanding houses is a non-starter. Regarding the World Cup stadiums, I still find it hard to believe that one German firm ended up being responsible for no less than three of the big stadiums. Silo indeed! So yes, we have a long way to go, if you ask me. SS > My personal favourite: Do you think elegant design still has a place in the global economy? DA > There is no point in living in an ugly world. SS > The pre-information age economies were built on industries like natural resources and raw materials. Due to our own greed we are now forced to look elsewhere. What potential do you believe the architecture industry has to fulfil a different role and become a vital player? DA > Architecture is a very broad discipline, but if it were treated with the respect it should be treated with, it would include more powers in the urban realm concerning what is generally regarded as ‘town planning issues’ – issues such as transportation, land-use, resources allocation and the like. The sad thing is that town planning in South Africa has been reduced to crisis management by city managers in Durban and we have had a general collapse of municipal service delivery throughout the country. Most importantly, there has been a legitimate collapse of trust in those in power. The damage that this collapse of town planning and city management is causing is something that architecture – as it is currently defined – cannot even begin to ameliorate. SS > How would you motivate and inspire aspirant young designers to consider architecture as a viable career option? I don’t know that it is a very viable career option, to be honest. Politics looks far more attractive!


The award-winning Proud Heritage Clothing Campus, which is based on sustainable design principles.



An ‘adaptive reuse’ project in Cape Town where the client maximised energy efficient lighting design and good passive design. The project was executed in association with ARC Architects Cape Town.

SS > Most designers in a variety of fields are facing the same dilemma – wanting to be more environmentally conscious, while some of these decisions are sometimes less cost effective. How do you overcome that? DA > The only way to persuade a client of these design choices is to look at overall life-cycle costs of building. Generally speaking, good design should not cost more, and there is a host of natural, logical and passive ways to maximise the thermal performance of buildings. But again the question for me is rather: Should we be building this building here at all? Is this the best use of existing resources? Should we not be converting existing building stock, adapting and reusing? When clients reuse existing buildings they can save a lot of money and plough that back into energy-saving technologies, so there is a double bonus for all. That is what we encourage our clients to do. Adapt and reuse. You know back in the days, in 1998 when I joined master architect Barton Myers as associate in charge formation

of design for the adaptation and re-use of 8601 Wilshire Boulevard and 421 South Beverley Drive in Beverly Hills, we did stunning renovations on existing 1960s office buildings – a very trendy and economical thing to do even here in South Africa. But we need to do more. SS > Currently Don Albert & Partners are engaged in a few high-end residential projects throughout South Africa, as well as a number of industrial projects. They are on a tender bid for the new KwaZulu Natal Legislature building in Pietermaritzburg. Later this year, in November to be more specific, be sure to look out for a 280 full-colour page monograph of the work of Don Albert & Partners entitled SOUND SPACE DESIGN. Published by Pythagoras Media, a new media company that is also behind the art, architecture, fashion, design and music website called, of which Don is editorin-chief. < All images courtesey of Don Albert & Partners.

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Modern technology and design help preserve ancient manuscripts By Estelle Walmsley

In an age where creative aid is highly rated and encouraged, it is heartening to find it being extended across international borders to preserve an ancient heritage that many were not aware of, or at most, thought was merely a mythical fabrication. The opening in January 2009 of the ultra-modern new library and archival facility at the Ahmad Baba Institute in Timbuktu to house the priceless Timbuktu manuscripts was a striking example of how creative solutions can be found.

Cultural co-operation South Africa’s involvement in preserving the Timbuktu manuscripts followed former president Thabo Mbeki’s state visit to Mali in 2001 and his offer to the Malian government to help preserve the ancient scripts and build a new library. At the time, the manuscripts still in the country were rapidly deteriorating and were being stored in the Ahmad Baba Institute and some 24 private libraries and collections in and around Timbuktu. The bilateral agreement signed between the two countries in 2001 saw the establishment of the Timbuktu Manuscripts Trust. Chaired by South Africa’s former minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, the mission of the trust was to raise funds for upgrading the Ahmad Baba Institute and to finance the building of a new library equipped with the necessary technology to preserve the manuscripts. The trust fund was managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa. The bilateral agreement also made provision for skills training in conservation techniques and the Department of Arts and Culture trained some 20 Malian conservators and helped repair and conserve manuscripts with the aid of the South African National Archives and National Library. A three-year training programme, which began in 2003, focussed on preventative conservation, basic conservation repairs, leather repair and exhibition mounting. The library project was the first official cultural project undertaken by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the socio-economic development plan of the African Union and was also a South African presidential project, co-ordinated by the Presidency and the Department of Arts and Culture.

TOP: Artist’s impression of the new library and archival facility at the Ahmad Baba Institute in Timbuktu. © DHK Architects. ABOVE: The building under construction. Image by 5cense.

Design and construction While the management of the project and much of the fundraising was handled from South Africa, most of the labour for the building of the library was sourced from Mali to empower Malians with skills in modern building techniques, rather than importing skills from elsewhere. Property developers COESSA Holdings and DHK Architects led the South African-based professional team responsible for the building of the new library. Letshabile Structural Engineers, Target Project Management,



Plan and model of the new library and archival facility at the Ahmad Baba Institute in Timbuktu. Images © DHK Architects.

LDV Quantity Surveyors and GJA Mechanical & Electrical completed the team. The design of the library was conceived to reflect the adobe style of Timbuktu, blended with contemporary architectural styles and is a combination of sun-baked mud bricks (reminiscent of the ‘old’ city) and off-shutter concrete (reminiscent of the ‘new’ city). These two materials form the main structural materials and are tectonically separated with glass. Sun filters are hand chiseled stone panels of varying sizes (about 2m x 1,5 m). The panels accentuate the Moroccan influence in Malian vernacular architecture. Utilising modern technology, the building was designed to protect the manuscripts against the threats of insect damage, natural elements such as dust and wind, chemical dangers such as acidity and moisture and the perils of careless human handling. Construction of the building was not without challenges, mainly due to the remote location of Timbuktu.

All of the construction material had to be brought into Mali with the exception of the limestone used for the façade of the building. Material was flown into Bamako and from there shipped upstream to Timbuktu once the level of the Niger River had risen sufficiently with the onset of the rainy season. Removal of earthworks on site started in 2006. On 24 January 2009 the new building was eventually inaugurated by former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe who handed the building over to president Amadou Touré and the people of Mali. Speaking at the inauguration ceremony president Motlanthe described the new building as a celebration of African co-operation and friendship. “It is our commitment to a common humanity,” he said. The buildings form a microcosm of the greater Timbuktu and offer an amazing experiential route which ties the main auditorium and outdoor amphitheatre to the library, restoration spaces and guest rooms to form an interactive educational centre.

Historical manuscripts The Timbuktu manuscripts, written moslty in Arabic, but also in indigenous languages such as Songhai and Hausa, cover topics as diverse as justice, religion, philosophy, history, medicine and the arts and include mathematical and scientific texts on astronomy. The texts clearly reflect Africa’s pre-colonial tradition of written academic excellence. Some of the manuscripts date back to the 13th century when the city was an important stop along the lucrative gold and salt trade route between West Africa and the Middle East. Timbuktu 500 years ago was not only a wealthy trading port, but also an important centre of learning and spiritualism and home to the renowned Koranic Sankore University. Scholars flocked to the city from all over the Islamic world. The city which was founded in 1100 in West Africa on the edge of the Sahara desert and on the northern-most

bend of the Niger River was named a World heritage Site in 1998.

Widening horisons While Timbuktu has long-since been a symbol of a remote and exotic destination in Western popular imagination, few people have actually known where this ancient city was located and fewer still ascribed any kind of civilization to this historic area. The Timbuktu library project and the media coverage which the project and the opening of the library facility generated have put paid to this ignorance. The awareness created of the manuscripts also put an end to the misconception that Africa relied solely on ‘oral tradition’ to pass on its history and knowledge. The written records reflect a long tradition of learning and a rich historical and cultural heritage. <





between Kerzner International, owned by lucrative South African businessman Sol Kerzner, developer and operator of destination resorts, and Isthithmar, a Dubai government-owned entity.

It is, therefore, understandable why the recreation of such a symbol is momentous to Dubai, the economic hub of the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states. Built on top of the crescent of the Palm Jumeirah, the US1.5bn Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah was a joint venture

The brief provided to the design team by Kerzner was to be exponentially grander than what had previously been designed at the Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas during phases I and II. The vision was to redefine tourism in Dubai by creating the first truly integrated entertainment resort that would transport guests into a dazzling imaginative world of mythical Atlantean fantasy – the wonder, the water and the sense of discovery – a self-proclaimed eighth wonder of the world with the Middle East’s largest water themed attraction.

he myth of the lost city and high civilisation of Atlantis, its location and significance, has long been part of enormous discussion and academic debate. According to Greek mythology, the island’s approximately 400 000 square miles was said to have been the centre of trade and commerce more than 11 000 years ago. To facilitate travel and trade, a water canal was cut through forming rings of land and water running south for 5.5 miles (~9 km) to the sea.



The view of Atlantis from the Palm monorail.

First impressions

Teams at work

Spanning a 46 hectare site, including an incredible water adventure at Aquaventure, Atlantis boasts luxury accommodation, a beautiful stretch of beach, luxury boutiques, numerous dining choices, including four celebrity chef restaurants, a nightclub, spa and fitness club, a marine habitat of 65 000 marine animals, a kids club for four to 12 year olds and a private club for teenagers.

The Atlantis design process, a six-year design effort, included 31 international contributing professionals – architects and interior designers, lighting consultants, mechanical engineers, signage and graphics consultants, quantity surveyors, marine engineers, night club and restaurant specialty designers and structural/civil engineers and many others.

By taking a trip via the Palm monorail one gets a glimpse (through a compact concentration of multi-pound villas and office buildings) of the expansive Atlantis gateway, a distinct pink structure, dotted by sea green and ‘salted’ marine figurines. Quite an unusual choice of exterior, and which seemed like a difficult task in merging Atlantean themes with Arabian influences.

When asked to be the interior architectural designer of The Atlantis, The Palm, Wilson Associates jumped at the challenge. As the 14th project they have worked on jointly, it was a milestone in their long standing relationship with Kerzner International. The Wilson Associates Team led by design director and specialist in Resort Design, James Carry, logged over one

The Royal Towers Grand Lobby and its centre piece.

TOP: Murals by Albino Gonzalez. ABOVE: Ambassador Lagoon.

million airline miles, with staff working 24 hours a day to complete the resort in time for its regal opening.

design traditions to meet the visual appeal of the project scope.

Months of research were involved in sourcing the world’s most exotic materials and antique artefacts. Shimmering semi-precious stones and intricate fossilised shell and fish stone are seen throughout this Dubai escape. Hints of Arabian architecture are revealed both in the exterior and interior of the resort. Geometry was consciously used as a design tool, from space planning to intricate pavement patterns.

“Wilson Associates truly raised the bar at the challenge of integrating the worlds of land and ocean into one,” says Trisha Wilson, founder and CEO of Wilson Associates.

According to Wilson Associates, their strong presence and experience in the Middle East allowed them to take the cultural aspect of the design and the Islamic architecture and reinterpret this into the Atlantis, blending experience and innovation with indigenous

Another world-renowned architect’s distinctive style is omnipresent throughout Atlantis. With over two decades of experience in both architecture and interior design, Jeffrey Beers of Jeffrey Beers International (JBI) has a reputation for creating unique and innovative designs that work in harmony with the location and environment. Recent national and international projects include The Cove Atlantis in the Bahamas and Cain at The Cove, to mention a few. formation

The lobby’s 19 metre high arched ceilings feature eight hand painted murals on canvas by Spanish artist Albino Gonzalez, one of the world’s foremost interpreters of ancient mythology. The murals depict the development of the solar calendar, highlighting various constellations and planets and tell the story of the ancient mythological city of Atlantis. The calendars are distributed throughout the eight murals and represent the seasons of the year including the solstices and the equinox (spring, summer, fall and winter) and the four elements (air, earth, fire, water). Gonzalez’s works capture the major themes of the Arabian mythology, a story that has been passed along throughout time. The hotel lobby leaves one in awe...not from the wonders of its high ceilings and elaborate water features, but from the mishmash of colour, texture and overall lack of creative cohesion. One wonders if the pre-launch fire that led to the destruction of the hotel lobby a few weeks prior to its grand opening resulted a quick-fix of such questionable taste.

Views of the Bridge Suite.

Lasting impressions The design intention throughout the resort was for guests to experience an immediate connection with their natural surroundings, highlighted by nature, art and Atlantean wonder. The wall of windows offering tranquil views of The Palm beaches certainly highlights this. However, the Royal Towers Grand Lobby presents an artificial, fantasy-like impression with churning pearls in water-filled oysters. Attention is quickly drawn to the colossal ten meter sculpture, a central blast of colourful glass twirls put together in an array of blues, greens, yellows and orange, a distasteful structure lying below a golden mosaic grand dome, representing the quartz crystal, considered a source of energy by the Atlanteans. For commissioned artist Dale Chihuly, the glass sculpture was his first installation in the Middle East, taking almost two years to create.

The inspiring Poseidon’s Court features a double-volume acrylic single sheet window revealing the Ambassador Lagoon, a ten-meter deep marine habitat, home to several hundred marine species. This very theatrical environment is a wonderful gathering place for guests, displaying a golden throne flanked by six customcrafted sea life columns over an intricately cut custom stone floor leading to the lagoon.

Land of extraordinary luxury Almost making up for the lack of creative cohesion of the Royal Lobby, majestic walkways lead to luxurious accommodation, clearly consistent with the high standards of five to seven-star resorts in the United Arab Emirates. Over 1 400 of the 1 539 guestrooms and suites in the Royal Towers feature inter-connecting doors, providing ideal accommodation for families. Each room and suite boasts breathtaking views of the azure Arabian Gulf or the tranquil waters of The Palm Jumeirah. Interiors are fashioned in elegantly understated

Interior of Rostang, The French Brasserie.

Interiors of Nobu (top) and Ronda Locatelli (above).

contemporary décor of earth tones, with splashes of colour bringing the ocean indoors. Bathrooms can only be described as ‘utter decadence’, outfitted with marble floors, granite vanities, rain showers and twin vessel sinks.

designers Jeffrey Beers, David Rockwell, Adam Tihany and Wilson and Associates. Among the rich and famous who have graced the marbled corridors have been worldclass master chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert DeNiro, British television personality and two star Michelin Chef Giorgio Locatelli, Parisian sensation and two star Michelin Chef Michel Rostang, and world-renowned three star Michelin Chef Santi Santamaria, known also as ‘The Architect of Food’.

What’s more, Atlantis commissioned King Coil to create exclusive roll-away beds with high quality mattresses to ensure guests of a good night’s sleep. Even the youngest guests are spoilt with bespoke cribs, complete with extra linens and delivered with products from some of JOHNSON’S favourite product line.

Dubai’s culinary destination The Avenues, including a collection of niche retail outlets, is a haven of extravagant and diverse dining experiences. Atlantis showcases four celebrity restaurants designed with their own unique style, created by

Jeffrey Beers worked in partnership with Parisian chef Michel Rostang to create Rostang, The French Brasserie, and with Italian chef and British television personality Giorgio Locatelli to design Ronda Locatelli. Beers also created Sanctuary, offering a sophisticated nightlife experience. For Rostang’s, Beers designed a traditional 836 square metre French restaurant. Antique mirrors contrast with modern design elements of exposed metal along a formation


A view of Aquaventure.

curved vaulted barrel ceiling reminiscent of the Paris Metro, while free-standing bread stations, glass-blown light fixtures and a distinctive macaroon display, all designed with glass and metal, add a contemporary flair to the dining area. Styled with deep raspberry walls and contrasting dark mahogany wood mill work reminiscent of pastries, a custom in-house patisserie features an open baking kitchen. Beers blended the charm of the Italian countryside with the modernity of Dubai in creating rustic Ronda Locatelli. A calming water pond placed side by side with a custombuilt fireplace greets guests upon entering, while a central stone clad structure houses four pizza ovens and grounds the space. Diners relax on specially designed wood basket seating pods, and various sized circular wood trellis adorned with fiery custom glass light fixtures suspended over the dining area, lending a sense of intimacy.

The Rockwell Group collaborated with world-renowned master chef Nobu Matsuhisa to create Nobu. Using traditional and modern Japanese elements, the 1 068 square metre space features natural elements of ash, river stones, branches, woven textiles and fishing baskets. A curved river rock wall spanning 18 metres marks the entry to the Nobu bar, providing casual seating for dinner guests and a hot spot for those looking to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail. Rectilinear sushi bar, encased in black bamboo and embedded terrazzo, private dining room flanked by a frosted blue mirror service bar, and three dimensional woven abaca panels surround the main dining room, giving one the aura of the ocean.

Water wonder In designing AQUAVENTURE, the Atlantis team challenged the best designers, creative minds and water

SECTION > 81 ride technologists to take the water experience to a different level. “We believe there is something innate within human beings that cause them to react to water. We believe that the excitement of AQUAVENTURE, coupled with the sophisticated beach experience, makes this unlike anything in the region,” says Alan Leibman, president and managing director, Kerzner International. Sol Kerzner, executive chairman, Kerzner International adds: “It is simply not enough for us to deliver new water rides. Our goal was to redefine the concept of a water park.” The AQUAVENTURE waterscape contains 18 million litres of fresh water used to power seven thrilling waterslides, a 2.3 kilometre river ride with tidal waves and pools, water rapids and white water chargers. Using the latest technology, AQUAVENTURE is capable of using over 750 000 litres per minute to create water surges and waves with swells reaching almost 2 metres high. Guests are propelled through the waterscape, never having to leave their inner tubes as innovative water escalators carry participants up slide towers and down through rapids. The Lost Chambers is a maze of underground tunnels offering underwater views, which were designed to bring the myth of Atlantis to life. The waterscape features two pools: the Royal Pool, a sophisticated serene experience and the Zero Entry Pool, an energetic, engaging experience, ideal for families. There is an inviting 1.4 kilometre white sand beach which hosts a variety of watersports including windsurfing, kayaking, and floating climbing walls. Dolphin Bay is a 4.5 hectare state-of-the-art dolphin education and conservation centre allowing guests the chance to interact with the world’s most charming and lovable sea animals. The Ambassador Lagoon, utilising 11 million litres of water, is a marine habitat and underwater exhibit to several hundred species of marine life. This being the most positive contribution the resort offers from an educational perspective for children. Guests at Atlantis can explore the marine habitat on their own or choose to interact with a ‘Navigator’, who

The Lost Chambers and a Seakeeper interacting with a dolphin in the Dolphin Bay.

shares educational facts and details on the mythical elements of Atlantis (how man and marine life first connected) and the Atlantis family of marine inhabitants. Daily feedings in the lagoons and sanctuaries are supervised by Atlantis ‘Seakeepers’ affording guests the opportunity to interact with the sea life. Raising awareness of the ocean’s ecosystems and promoting ocean conservation is a key dimension to the overall guest experience at the resort.

Sustainability and environmental impact In order to bring the Atlantis to life, the Palm Jumeirah project launched in 2001 in an effort to reclaim land off the shore of Dubai to create a man-made island in the shape of a cultural icon. According to Palm developer formation


A branch off the Palm Jumeirah.

Nakeel, Palm Jumeirah has increased Dubai’s shore- United Arab Emirates was the famously publicised line by 100% and envisioned the creation of a destination Trump Towers, to be located on the trunk of The Palm of world-class hotels, retail, homes, leisure and Jumeirah. entertainment. In its drive to build an economic hub through aggressive The Palm Jumeirah, in the shape of a palm tree, consists commercialisation and creating a globally unmatched of a trunk, a crown with 17 fronds, and a surrounding tourism destination, Dubai developers have received crescent island that forms an 11 kilometer long break- numerous negative comments on the impact of the water a total area larger than 800 football pitches. The artificial islands on natural ecosystems. The concerns crown is connected to the mainland by a 300-metre of environmentalists range from burying coral reefs, bridge and the crescent is connected to the top of the threatening local marine species, erosion of coastal palm by a subsea tunnel. The Palm Jumeirah is touted areas and disrupting natural currents. to be one of the world’s premier resorts as tourism develops in the region. Nakeel states that from before the first grain of sand was laid, through the reclamation stage to present day, With the global economy struggling to pick up the they have conducted a wide range of impact studies, pieces of the recession and Dubai industries feeling developed and implemented policies, guidelines and the squeeze, one cannot help but question the sustain- standards and taken appropriate actions to ensure ability of this ambition. Among the major cancellations that The Palm Jumeirah contributes positively to the and postponement of infrastructure projects in the environment.


Dr Peter Sale, assistant director of United Nations University’s International Network on Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), who recently won the Bleeker Award for his contributions to world knowledge of fish communities, particularly those in coral reefs, led the scientific team advising measures to minimise the impacts of off-shore construction projects in Dubai. These included Nakheel’s Palm Jumeirah and Palm Jebel Ali developments. In February 2009 UNU-INWEH confirmed that early results of its joint monitoring programme with Nakheel suggested that the constructed environments of Nakheel’s coastal development are developing into rich ecosystems compatible with healthy coastal waters. One of the most favourable contributions Kerzner International has brought to the United Arab Emirates through Atlantis is awareness creation around marine life and environmental habitats. Frank Murru, Kerzner

International’s chief marine officer, further emphasises the company’s policy on observance of international and local environmental and animal-care standards. “Aquariums and marine habitats have been the key to educating children and adults about our oceans and the animals that live in them. Public display of marine animals, education, conservation and research go hand in hand to benefit all marine life,” says Murru. Is this enough? Is this the legacy African and global designers, entrepreneurs and businesspeople want to leave the world? These are important questions, of which the answers need to be balanced with aspects such as economic growth, knowledge transformation and business ethics. <

Photos courtesy of Kerzner International Holdings Ltd. and Dirk Kotze.


a reflection of you

Designer range styled by


Leading Edge


The Steinhobel designer range of taps and mixers, exquisitely elegant in form and function, design and detail.

You’re the epitomy of glamour. You lead enviable lifestyle. You accept nothing but the best. Nowhere is this more evident than in your home, which reflects your unique personality and desire for perfection.

The Cobra Designer range, a symphony of sophistication.

Visit our new showroom in Bryanston, c/o Main Road & Bryanston Drive, Bryanston, Tel: 011 875 7400, or Cape Town, M5 Business Park, 2A Camp Road, Maitland, Tel: 021 510 0970. For your nearest Cobra stockist call 0861 21 21 21 or visit e-mail:

Member of the Dawn Group


Define your products according to your market’s requirements


here is a temptation amongst manufacturers whose products have become household names, to sit back and bask in the glory of their recognition. However, those arrogant enough to retort: ‘everyone knows us, so we don’t need to do anything more!’ will invariably find themselves left behind over time. One should never be too complacent – even market leaders and consumer giants such as Lever Ponds know this. They have huge R&D budgets and regularly conduct extensive consumer research and market analysis to stay ahead of the game. No one is immune, as we have recently seen with the migration from Facebook to Twitter on the social network scene. On occasion, keeping up with market trends can mean having to re-engineer the business, as manufacturers of local taps, Cobra Watertech found out. “In the past,

taps and sanitaryware were chosen by plumbers. We made a reliable range of taps that had very good acceptance by the market and were installed for a wide range of residential and commercial uses. In the last ten years, though, people have started being more selective and prefer to choose their own sanitaryware and bathroom fittings,” says Ken Kearns, Sales and Marketing Director of Cobra Watertech. “Bathrooms are being sold differently and in response, we found that the best way to serve the local market’s needs was to segment the market into what we now call the Economy, Classic, Style and Designer ranges.” For the Designer range, Cobra commissioned world renowned industrial designer, Brian Steinhobel, to develop a collection of distinctive taps for them. To date, he has created three different designs – the Callisto, the Tapno and the Leading Edge. “The Designer

From left to right: Leading edge range, Tapno range, Mona Lisa Bath & Callisto range formation


range has been created for the top end of the market,” says Kearns. “By having this range designed by a specialist in product design, we have been able to charge a premium, which the market has been more than willing to pay.” Besides segmenting their tap ranges, they have introduced sanitaryware, a new range of showers, a range of electronic taps and many extras that address the changing face of the marketplace. “The bathroom mixers are made to the correct height and dimensions for the basins and baths that we supply. We have a range of sink mixers that match the style of the bathroom ranges. Then we have a range of chromotherapy showers that have lights in them which you can programme to give you a blue, green or red shower – each colour has a different effect on the psyche,” he continues. “To cope with environmental issues, we supply a range of water-saving adapters and aerators that reduce the water flow and actually make the water feel softer. Our shower roses have rubber teats that help prevent lime build-up. Then, for public places, we have taps with vandal-resistant features that prevent them from being removed and for the informal settlements, we have developed taps that turn off at intervals to prevent water wastage. In fact, for every problem or need, we try to find a solution.”


Top left: Cobra chromotherapy shower Top right: Cobra Tapno range

In addition to making products that satisfy the socioeconomic dynamics of the country, Cobra Watertech also has ensured that all their products are made to international standards so that they can be exported. For the hospitality industry, they have the ability to custom-design and embellish the taps and sanitaryware with the logo of the establishments, to add an extra touch of exclusivity. By paying attention to the profiles of the various market segments, therefore, they have been able to satisfy a far larger cross-section of needs, which has helped them to retain a healthy position in the marketplace. <

SECTION > 89 There is a temptation amongst manufacturers whose products have become household names, to sit back and bask in the glory of their recognition. However, those arrogant enough to retort: ‘everyone knows us, so we don’t need to do anything more!’ will invariably find themselves left behind over time. One should never be too complacent – even market leaders and consumer giants such as Lever Ponds know this. They have huge R&D budgets and regularly conduct extensive consumer research and market analysis to stay ahead of the game. No one is immune, as we have recently seen with the migration from Facebook to Twitter on the social network scene. On occasion, keeping up with market trends can mean having to re-engineer the business, as manufacturers of local taps, Cobra Watertech found out. “In the past, taps and sanitaryware were chosen by plumbers. We made a reliable range of taps that had very good acceptance by the market and were installed for a wide range of residential and commercial uses. In the last ten years, though, people have started being more selective and prefer to choose their own sanitaryware and bathroom fittings,” says Ken Kearns, Sales and Marketing Director of Cobra Watertech. “Bathrooms are being sold differently and in response, we found that the best way to serve the local market’s needs was to segment the market into what we now call the Economy, Classic, Style and Designer ranges.” For the Designer range, Cobra commissioned world renowned industrial designer, Brian Steinhobel, to develop a collection of distinctive taps for them. To date, he has created three different designs – the Callisto, the Tapno and the Leading Edge. “The Designer range has been created for the top end of the market,” says Kearns. “By having this range designed by a specialist in product design, we have been able to charge a premium, which the market has been more than willing to pay.”

Besides segmenting their tap ranges, they have introduced sanitaryware, a new range of showers, a range of electronic taps and many extras that address the changing face of the marketplace. “The bathroom mixers are made to the correct height and dimensions for the basins and baths that we supply. We have a range of sink mixers that match the style of the bathroom ranges. Then we have a range of chromotherapy showers that have lights in them which you can programme to give you a blue, green or red shower – each colour has a different effect on the psyche,” he continues. “ To cope with environmental issues, we supply a range of watersaving adapters and aerators that reduce the water flow and actually make the water feel softer. Our shower roses have rubber teats that help prevent lime build-up. Then, for public places, we have taps with vandal-resistant features that prevent them from being removed and for the informal settlements, we have developed taps that turn off at intervals to prevent water wastage. In fact, for every problem or need, we try to find a solution.” In addition to making products that satisfy the socioeconomic dynamics of the country, Cobra Watertech also has ensured that all their products are made to international standards so that they can be exported. For the hospitality industry, they have the ability to custom-design and embellish the taps and sanitaryware with the logo of the establishments, to add an extra touch of exclusivity. By paying attention to the profiles of the various market segments, therefore, they have been able to satisfy a far larger cross-section of needs, which has helped them to retain a healthy position in the marketplace. <


The Infusion Lounge > Building a brand through interior design By Jacques Lange

“The purpose of interior design is to pass the message and ideology of a brand to customers directly and sharply,” says interior designer, Kinney Chan of Hong Kong-based Kinney Chan & Associates. He believes that excellent design magnifies advantages and sharpens business competitiveness. He also believes that branding is not restricted to the graphic design and advertising: “Brands develop from an overall impression and perception of a company. Environment, atmosphere, decor, music and even aroma play an active role in altering the emotions of people.” One of Chan’s recently completed projects, The Infusion Lounge, illustrates the strong relationship between interior design and the customer’s experience in shaping a strong brand. The Infusion Lounge was selected as one of the winners of the prestigious IF Communication Design Award 2009 based on Chan’s innovative approach and attention to incorporate detail to vividly enhance the consumer experience, thereby establishing the brand in an iconic manner. This 6 500-square-foot upmarket lounge/bar, located in the epicentre of San Francisco’s Union Square at the Fusion Hotel, combines first-rate service, extravagant ambiance and innovative design. This sophisticated, Asian-inspired venue, completed in January 2009, is said to leave profound impressions on first-time visitors and are redefining not only upscale nightlife in the city by becoming the must-see destination, but also redefining the industry itself. The bar with the its full-colour animated hologram.


92 > INTERIOR DESIGN The Infusion Lounge features a main room with a bar, an elevated VIP area and a multi-purpose space the north lounge – designed to be a used for banquets, fashion shows and other events, which also incorporates a dance space. According to Chan, the most arresting area of the club is the unisex restroom. Chan and his team filled this multifunction and multi-space venue with many unique design features and details. He says: “An anchor design element within the venue is the custom-designed red columns which form the signature grid pattern throughout.” The columns in the main room are surrounded by striking latticed ‘cages’ based on Chinese architecture and window patterns, which act as the binding element of the project’s visual language. In the north lounge dance floor area, the columns are encased in etched glass, which are illuminated by programmable LED lighting. In the elevated VIP bay areas, large dark brown wooden screens provide privacy to the back wall of the main space, which creates a prime area for intimate dinners. Extending the length of the main bar is an illuminated stainless steel mesh canopy. The canopy’s illumination can be adjusted to create different atmospheres. Another special feature is a large-scale, full-colour, animated hologram that sits in the centre of the bar. Chan’s pride and joy, the unisex restroom, offers multiple surprises and sensory delight. The restroom foyer is framed by a polished stainless steel archway that leads visitors into a curved space consisting of a common vanity area and multiple stalls. The stalls are enclosed with custom-made grey-coloured glass doors with stainless steel frames that follow the curves of the space. Elaborate auburn, black, and gold patterned mosaic clad the radius walls inside and out. The vanity has four surface-mounted basins that sit on a polished granite surface with wall The unisex bathroom and the view when walking out back into the lounge.



The dance floor and moulded dragon/phoenix medallion backdrop of the DJ booth.

mirrors that stretch up to the ceiling. High-tech Dyson hand dryers are a main feature on the way out. Some of the other elaborate details are found in the north lounge are five screens that accent the dance floor space. The largest screen, a moulded dragon/phoenix medallion, contains LED lighting which forms the backdrop for the DJ booth. The other four screens also echo Asian architecture with their striking red lattice patterns. The Infusion Lounge is said to have costs $4.6 million and took three years to build. During this time, the design team worked closely with the management of Hotel Fusion and great attention was paid to integrate the interior, the entertainment offering and the cuisine to create an exceptional customer experience. Executive chef, Brian Beach, explains the result as follows: “Infusion Lounge is San Francisco’s first true hybrid venue. We offer a distinctive fusion of the three dominant aspects of the city’s nightlife scene: innovative and refined dining, a sophisticated precision-mixology driven bar, and a stateof-the-art venue drawing some of the world’s most exclusive and sought-after DJs. From these three elements, each of our guests is free to create his or her ideal experience.” < formation




Reviving the lost art of blacksmithing in modern furniture production

A bed that evokes fairytale images, a table that seems to shoot directly out of the soil, a chair that links us with to our primal past: these are all things that spring to mind on viewing the pieces of new and exciting young Polish designer, Ola Voyna.


ounded and based in 2005 in Lodz, Poland’s second largest city and centre of the country’s film industry playing host to the nation’s Film School, Aleksandra PPHU, trading as Ola VoynaTM is a young company. Ola Voyna, the eponymous owner and sole designer in the firm has this to say about the environment that shaped her unique creative spirit: “The city in which I was born, Lodz, is a place full of contrasts; beauty and ugliness, darkness and brightness. It is reflected in my work – a mix of hard steel and soft fabric and shapes.” The city was also a major centre for Central and Eastern Europe’s textile industry, dating back from the mid-19th century, until the early 1990s when many of the largescale, state-run textile mills were privatised, downsized or shut down. Today, the textile industry thrives, continuing in the form of more specialised branches of the industry such as fashion, homeware, and, of course, upholstery. It is in this rich backdrop of the mix of beauty – both in the centre of the town with its pre-war architecture, and in the scenery of the city’s outskirts, the drab facades of some districts in the ‘post-industrial’ era, and Lodz’s role as a centre for textiles, that has given Ola a ready store of inspiration from which she has single-handedly created her collection. The idyllic surroundings of her home, ringed by woods and cornfields on the outer fringes of the city, adds extra impetus to her creative energy: “Life in the big city made me want to move to a place surrounded by peace and quiet. My home is the place where I can live, create and rest.” Living with her seven dogs, which she adores with a maternal affection, it is no surprise that animals are another theme that punctuates much of her work, with product names like ‘Snail’, ‘Elephant’, ‘Salamander’ and ‘Mammoth’. Since its launch at the International Furniture Fair (IMM) in Cologne in 2006, Ola Voyna has attracted the attention of private and corporate customers the world over, and the acclaim of design and luxury lifestyle press in America and Europe. From the company’s base in



Lodz, customers in Western Europe, the United States, and the Gulf States have been taken aback by the originality of the company’s furniture, some of which – in an outdoor setting – one could be forgiven for mistaking as part of the scenery. The company is currently launching distributorship as far a field as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Africa. “Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore are very mature consumer markets we are very keen to tap into,” says Andrew Repas, director of customer relations, who is in charge of the marketing strategy. “South Africa is a big deal for us. With 2010 looming and all the construction going on in preparation, the time is ripe for us to enter this market.” Furniture design is something Ola fell into when designing the interior of her house. Her choice of vivid colours like violet, yellow, orange and brown, creating earthy motifs inspired by the natural environment, would define the trajectory of her furniture design. Combining this with her talent in fusing elements such as stone,

The Ivy is a table with asymmetrical leg supports with leaves growing out of each corner of the tabletop.

metal, glass and fabric led her into creating her own furniture from scratch to complete the vibrant ambience of the interior. Creating a business of her initial designs was something that developed quite organically as the concepts and drawings multiplied, and were realised in production and in the photography in preparation for the website to showcase her work. Ola VoynaTM, the company was born.

Creative approach Ola draws inspiration from nature and the elements, subconsciously fusing an eclectic mix of the best of all major movements in design and art, simultaneously morphing creative aesthetics entirely her own. Ola Voyna’s unique creations combine her raw imagination to form the essence of the Ola Voyna design ethos. “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you,” she says, quoting Frank Lloyd Wright. “This sentence often enters my mind, while I’m designing. Nature is a constant source of my inspiration.”

Ivory Carriage is romantically redolent of fairytales with luxurious details forged with iron and clad in leather.

Wicker captures the natural woven beauty of rattan and cane in iron.

Inspired by a lunar eclipse, the Lunar Red with its striking colour has a delicate balance of straight edges and spirals.

Inspired by the eponymous lizard, the Salamander combines comfort and elegance..

Tribe fuses the motifs of nomad cultures with contemporary ironwork.

Wistaria is a graphite-coloured armchair with a stool, upholstered with beige, floral patterned fabric. formation


Scarlet is a romantically inspired two-seater sofa upholstered with silk.

Oyster is bed inspired by fairytales.

Moren is a coffee table forged from a single sheet of metal with a marble table top.

Graphite is a coffee table forged from a single sheet of metal with a riveted trim pattern.

Mammoth is an ivory coloured collection inspired by the tusks of a mammoth.

Sign is a straight-edged two seater with a coffee table composed of glass and Star Galaxy granite.

Unique production approach A central aspect of the firm’s creative culture is the handcrafting of everything they produce. Metal, fire and effort are the key elements in converting these masterful works of art from bold concepts on paper to real-life creations. In an age when mass-production, automation, and blind faith in the cult of minimalism have held sway in furniture design, reviving the lost art of blacksmithing in modern furniture production and giving it a firm place on the world stage of luxury furniture design is a key strategic component in building Ola Voyna into a global brand. Ola has this to say about her production methods: “As far as the production of my collections is concerned, I am focused on revitalising traditional methods and place emphasis on human skill and the individual character of every piece.” Since everything is made by hand, each item that leaves the foundry floor is slightly different. For those looking for alternatives to mechanical uniformity in production, the uniqueness of each and every piece is a breath of fresh air. Designer, Ola Voyna.

One of the most enigmatic aspects of this young designer is her seemingly boundless imagination, and constantly evolving and expanding collection. “I constantly expand my collection. I don’t want to focus only on furniture, as I have hundreds of ideas entering my mind. Now I’m concentrating on developing my jewellery collection, and also expanding my furniture collection.” Ola Voyna’s new jewellery collection is truly a revelation to the senses. There are two major materials around on which her jewellery is based – striped flint, affectionately known as ‘Polish diamond’ an extremely rare and beautiful stone, harder than steel and exceeded in hardness only by diamonds, is found only in one part of the world, near the ancient city of Sandomierz in the south-east of Poland. The other range, only recently launched, is amber, sourced from the Baltic coast, from which 90% of the world’s amber is found.

Modern technology, however, does have an important role to play in the rise of this flamboyant, inspirational young designer’s brand – namely in marketing. “I am aware of the important role of modern technologies,” she says. “However, I deliberately avoid it in the creation process, preferring to use it as a part of my everyday work with customers. I have recently launched my blog platform, where I share my ideas, plans, current work and things I find valuable with other people.” The combination of the firm’s unique creative contribution to the world of modern furniture design, age-old production methods, and the use of modern communications technology are at the core of the Ola Voyna corporate identity. <




Handles Inc. goes green There’s nothing quite like the plush look and feel of exclusive packaging to elevate a brand to be a cut above the rest. The aura of luxury imparted by leathers, suedes, specially treated papers, heavy flocks and woven textiles can make an emphatic difference to the positioning of a brand in the marketplace.


ith green being the new black and focus of 2009, Handles Inc, leaders in door couture, has increased its exclusive imported range of chic eco-conscious Italian handles by Olivari for the South African market. Olivari that started its activity in Borgomanero, Italy, in 1911 with the production of handles for doors and windows in brass, bronze and nickel silver, has always been one step ahead in the handle industry, creating elegant handles which demand attention. Seemingly a simple accent to any door or window, collaborations between Olivari and several of the most prestigious names in the field of architecture have resulted in some of the most attractive art pieces being created. By constantly researching new manufacturing and finishing processes, Olivari maintains its forward thinking positioning. Biochrome, an innovative and environmentally friendly chroming process, patented by Olivari, makes the company the first in the world that has succeeded in applying trivalent chrome on

brass instead of hexavalent chrome; a pollutant which is harmful to our health and the environment. Another offering from Olivari is the breakthrough of Superfinish, a patented technological cycle which keeps the surface brightness and colour of the handle unchanged for years. With a 30-year guarantee, only your changing taste will persuade a change of handle. Handles Inc. stocks this entire bio-finished and stateof-the-art Italian range of handles at its two showrooms in Johannesburg and Cape Town. For more information, visit for a comprehensive look at these eco-friendly leaders.

About Handles Inc. Handles Inc was started seven years ago by Lawrence Koff who saw an opportunity in the market to establish an all-in-one shop for fittings and handles. Currently stocking 11 exclusive international brands, such as Olivari, Zack and Mandelli to name but a few, Handles Inc takes pride in innovative products and personalised door couture for the discerning South African market. With two showrooms, based in Cape Town and Johannesburg, the products are readily available for architects, designers and the end users, allowing consumers to walk into the showroom and sample one of their 6000 products. Lawrence identified a need for consumers to visit a single showroom and find everything they need. He felt that in building a house there are 2000 crucial decisions and at least the last 150 could be taken care efficiently and simply with all the necessary products under one roof and readily available.




“Where am I? What can I do here? Where can I go from here? How do I get out of here? Consciously or not, we ask such questions every day as we navigate the places and spaces of our lives” – Two Twelve.

“We discover the hidden logic within each design project, the secret structure of a confusing campus, the undisclosed order in a complex body of information, the unknown essence of a new identity,” says David Gibson, one of the world’s most experienced and respected wayfinding design specialists. Gibson, a founding partner and principal of New Yorkbased Two Twelve, has leveraged the power of design to transform people’s experience of public spaces for the past 30 years. With sensitivity to context and a talent for consensus-building, he leads comprehensive wayfinding strategy and signage programmes for leading institutions and organisations around the USA. Two Twelve’s 35-plus staff includes professionals who come from around the world with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Gibson says: “Our diversity and passion enrich the work we do and fuel our creative energies. We are always moving forward, always learning, and always challenging each other.”

Because of his passion for learning and sharing, Gibson decided to put pen to paper and write The Wayfinding Handbook: Information Design for Public Spaces, which was published with great acclaim earlier this year. The book draws on his rich experiences of collaborating with architects, planners, developers, facilities managers, and civic leaders to offer an insider’s view of this rapidly evolving discipline. Using real-life examples, Gibson illustrates the way type, colour, mapmaking, dimensional forms, material selection, and new media are used to create effective wayfinding systems. In his foreword Gibson writes: “The wayfinding designer’s work lies at the intersection of people and places. It is a collective enterprise, done with and for people, seeking to make extraordinary, interesting, and accessible places. This discipline is engaging because it allows one to learn about fascinating institutions, meet interesting people, and use design to transform public spaces. In comparison, other types of design problems seem rather




CITY OF CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA The City of Charlotte is one of the great cities of the New South. Shaped by its history as a center for banking and trade, Charlotte comprises several historic neighborhoods and growing suburbs, with a revitalised uptown at its cultural and commercial heart. A client team headed by the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte Area Transit System, and Charlotte Center City Partners commissioned Two Twelve to create a pedestrian wayfinding system to help inform and direct a growing population of new residents. Since installation began in 2007, the sign system has received enthusiastic praise from residents and officials throughout the city. A complementary vehicular wayfinding sign system is presently in development.

narrowly focused. Wayfinding projects are often complex and influential because they affect large populations.”

DESIGN > asked Gibson to share a few of his experiences and insights. D > What was the very first wayfinding project that you worked on? DG > It was the Millender Center in Detroit, a mixed-use hotel, office, retail and apartment development with an internal transit connection. The job came to Two Twelve through a family connection in the mid-1980s and I collaborated with an industrial designer to help on the three-dimensional aspects of the work. This opened the door to the discipline for me and allowed me to see how interesting and complex it is. D > You say that most wayfinding specialists have an eclectic backgrounds. What aspects of your background make you the wayfinding designer that you are? DG > It was a natural evolution that started with my studies in architecture at Cornell and was furthered by

my graphic design education at Yale, which was multidisciplinary and allowed me to see the mix of possibilities for design work in my world. I took this approach in setting up my business at Two Twelve, and a variety of projects came our way organically. Over time I have become a specialist, and handle wayfinding and signage design projects almost exclusively now. But what’s so exciting is that each new project still offers fresh challenges and avenues for exploration and collaboration, so I’m still seeing new possibilities for using design thinking in the world. D > When you are visiting a public space, are you David Gibson the visitor or David Gibson the wayfinding designer? DG > Both. When I am being the visitor, I am curious, I encounter the unexpected, I am an adventurer. When I am being a wayfinding designer, I am trained to look for wayfinding cues and find wayfinding tools. Inevitably, when I explore unfamiliar places, I am both simultaneously. I use the wayfinding tools at hand to make my way, but I am also cranky and critical when they don’t work or make sense, or have not been used well. It drives me

crazy when dynamic message displays don’t provide current information! D > In your book, The wayfinding handbook, you talk about the ‘hidden logic’ of a place. What happens when that logic is not ‘logical’? Isn’t it sometimes exciting for you to visit ‘chaotic’ environments? DG > Yes! Wandering a special place like the médina of Marrakesh is scary and exciting—but even that has a kind of logic. To me it’s a question of whether or not the logic of a place has been revealed, and whether I’ve been hired to reveal it to other people or am just figuring out how to navigate it for myself. D > What are the most exciting and demanding three projects that you have worked on? DG > I should maybe pick one from each decade that I have been working as a wayfinding designer. Central Park Zoo, New York City, mid ‘80s: the zoo is organised around ecosystems rather than single species, which gave us the opportunity to look at the visitor experience in a different way, to tell rich stories about

animals and environments, and to use new materials and processes. We produced four-colour interpretive signage on porcelain enamel, which was new at the time. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, late ‘90s: this Harvard Medical School affiliate is a world-class health care institution housed in a large urban complex. It was both the first time I worked on a hospital and the first time I really delved deep into the idea of a wayfinding strategy. The client was engaging, the team was highly collaborative, and the concept of patientcentred care was new. Our work redefined the conception of the hospital from being a set of medical buildings where doctors work to being an experience of entrances, pathways and destinations that lead patients to their health care providers. City of Charlotte wayfinding system, ’06-present: for this prosperous southern US city in North Carolina, we are collaborating with an interesting mix of city agencies, engineers, and consultants to bring people in vehicles from highways on the outer limits to city streets and parking and then guide them as pedestrians – it’s the complete urban wayfinding system. To make it formation


CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS Two Twelve Associates designed a new wayfinding system for Children’s Hospital Boston, one of the USA’s leading pediatric medical centers. The first phase of the system, incorporating the distinctive use of language, colors, symbols and forms, helps over 450 000 patients, visitors and hospital staff navigate the hospital’s five-building campus. “The new signage system reflects our core values of excellence, sensitivity and leadership,” said Sandra Fenwick, COO of Children’s Hospital Boston. “Going to the doctor’s office or hospital can be an unsettling experience for children and their families. This new system is one of the many ways we aim to make a visit as friendly and uncomplicated as possible. It provides our visitors with the information they need, where and when they need it, without adding confusion to what may already be a stressful situation.”

work, we clarified what the inner city neighbourhoods are called, conceived an innovative map to make its parts visible and memorable, and then designed the signage and all of its elements – symbols, typography, palette, and more – to express and support the wayfinding strategy.

D > You refer to the beginning of the 21st century as possibly becoming ‘wayfinding’s renaissance’. What are some the most important developments and challenges facing the discipline?

D > If you could choose, what would your dream wayfinding project be and why?

In terms of sustainable design, wayfinding experts need to think more broadly and on a longer term about the costs associated with our work. It’s not only about making responsible material and fabrication choices, but designing for the lifespan of a project, finding ways to make it as extensible as possible, and otherwise minimising negative impacts on the environment.

DG > A dream project would be an urban wayfinding system for a regional city in Africa – a place where I don’t know the culture, I don’t know the language, I don’t know how people see their city, and I would need to collaborate with them to learn everything about a place we need to know to create a wayfinding system that works for them. That would be a huge challenge and potentially rewarding for everyone involved. D > What is the best example of wayfinding that you have ever encountered in the world? DG > For me the best example of wayfinding without signs is the Forbidden City in Beijing and the best with signs is Paris.

DG > Sustainability, technology, and politics.

With regard to technology, electronic message displays, handheld devices/PDAs (personal digital assistants) and mapping applications are exciting and powerful, but not everyone can or wants to use them. Technology offers great potential for easy updating, customisation, personalisation and security, but it can also be problematic: expensive to procure and install; energy- and labour-intensive to maintain; sensitive to temperature and other conditions; quickly outdated, and so on. There

is a constant stream of new discoveries and products to consider, so it’s a challenge to understand how, when and whether to use newer media and devices on balance with traditional signage and wayfinding tools. And then there are the political issues. In recent decades our industry was focused on business and the private realm, but with changes in the world economy and an inspired Obama administration in the US, we are designing for more public places and services again. This is a different way of thinking and working which can be difficult for the uninitiated. Two Twelve has always had a mission to serve the public through our work, so it’s a good moment for us. We’re used to dealing with large, complex clients and projects and excited about helping to create better public experiences. D > In a globalised world, some design disciplines may seek to create a universal language, can or should we seek to create a universal wayfinding system and to what extent does the culture of a space influence the wayfinding design solutions? DG > On the one hand, there could be an argument for a universal wayfinding system for airports, for example,

but it would be next to impossible to create one for cities or neighbourhoods. For signage-based wayfinding systems throughout the world, there is a common framework of four major types of signs: identification, directions, rules, and orientation. How and where these types are used and what is put on them – words, symbols, colours – is inevitably site-specific. D > You describe the job of the wayfinding designer as to “facilitate a seamless visitor experience”. What are the most innovative new technologies that aid in achieving this goal? DG > There are new technologies appearing all the time, but in terms of creating a seamless visitor experience the tools are not really the point. It’s how they’re integrated that matters. The consistent use of clear terminology and images across whatever media you choose – a sign, a screen, a human being, a portable device – is the key to making a strong system that yields a good wayfinding experience. D > How do you avoid information overload? DG > We think very carefully about the messaging strategy so we can keep the words and images on signs formation

112 > COMMUNICATION DESIGN as simple as possible. Generally, we provide more and more specific information as you get closer to a destination. D > What are the financial benefits of wayfinding systems?


DG > Enhancing the visitor experience does have an economic impact, in both direct and not-so-obvious ways.

Two Twelve created a widely acclaimed signage and interpretive graphics program for the landmark Central Park Zoo, located on New York City’s famed Museum Mile.

In a commercial environment, wayfinding is a brand experience, and protecting brand value is a serious corporate objective. Our vehicular wayfinding system for Disneyland, for example, is the first step in making a guest feel welcome. The use of trademarked characters on signage for parking facilities creates a first impression and sparks the initial feelings of “Disney magic”. A guest thus primed is likelier to spend more money and return again than one who got lost, confused and cranky just getting to the amusement park. At a hospital, good wayfinding offsets labour costs and may even contribute to health outcomes. Our clients at Children’s Hospital Boston recognised that staff who were constantly being interrupted to give directions to lost visitors were losing time to do other, more important jobs such as caring for patients and running the operation. Research has shown that patients who are stressed and disoriented recover more slowly than those who feel welcomed and safe. Good wayfinding can thus play a role in creating a more positive health care experience. For the City of Charlotte project, visitor experience objectives were similar, but there was a public health goal as well. Some of the funding for the sign system came from the government to help abate air pollution. Visitors entering the city who find parking, public transit and local attractions easily emit less carbon dioxide than those who drive around and around looking for their destinations.

The program includes identification and interpretive signage for all the ecosystems represented in the sixacre zoo, as well as donor recognition elements. The large scale interpretive panels provide multi-layered background information about species and climate conditions. Graphics provide consistency across the visual presentation even though exterior panels are made of full-color, weather-resistant porcelain enamel, while interior installations are rear-lit transparencies. Through sophisticated design and a unique approach to interpretive content, our work orients, informs and entertains visitors to this popular urban destination.

These kinds of benefits are indeed difficult to measure but once they are identified and supported, relatively easy to justify. D > In your experience, what are the fundamental differences in approach to wayfinding in different parts of the world? DG > The general framework for wayfinding systems may be universal, but local culture and politics dictate what is revealed and to whom. The more a people or organisation welcomes diversity and exploration, the easier they make it for almost anyone to navigate their place or space. Imagine the difference in public information at a train station in Switzerland, for example, versus a government compound in North Korea. I would suggest there is even a correlation between tolerance and accessibility.

D > It is said that a wayfinding system’s success is measured by how ‘invisible’ it is. Can you unpack this statement? DG > A truly successful wayfinding system works without the user being aware of it. He or she just effortlessly gets to where they want to go. A few years ago I got a call from my client at Severance Hall, the home of the Cleveland Orchestra, on the day after the grand re-opening of the renovated Beaux Arts facility. He congratulated me and said he knew our sign system was successful “because nobody mentioned it”! D > In conclusion, does the education system provide adequate training opportunities for environmental graphic design?

DG > Not yet. I am aware of only a few institutions that are starting to offer courses in environmental graphic design in the US. With the publication of The wayfinding handbook, I hope to make it easier for teachers to teach it. Gibson says that he also wrote the book to be a resource for recent graduates and mature designers interested in wayfinding, as well as a source of ideas and inspiration for practicing professionals, managers, and owners of public spaces. It is indeed a worthwhile resource and a great read. <




Hitting the right notes in tough times By Bev Hermanson

Communication design, as a contributor to the creative economy, has come a long way from the days when merely high profile retail lines were given an identity. Now, even PR agencies, government departments, fundraising organisations, professional bodies, sports events and the like take much pride in establishing and promoting their identities.


or anyone wanting to establish a significant

inks printed on paper or vinyl, your designs must

presence, it is critical to have the correct branding

specifically use colours that will show up well on

that consistently reflects both the external and

computer screens. The colour considerations and

internal identities. Nowadays, this extends to all the

legibility issues are entirely different,” elaborates

electronic media as well. “Hand-in-hand with any print,

Hemphill. “Then there are other dynamics that come

outdoor, or TV campaign, an online campaign that

into play – such as the capabilities of the creative

includes website content, web links, electronic news-

software and whether the hardware and software of

letters and even SMS messages, has become essential

the target audience can cope with the messages both

to re-inforce and extend the brand message,” says James

from a file size and file format point of view.”

Hemphill of ThoughtCapital. “This is particularly important in tough times.”

As most designers work with creative software on a daily basis, it’s all too easy to forget that the target

It is important to note, though, that designing for online

audience may not have equipment with the same soft-

communication requires different considerations when

ware and hardware capabilities. If you are only design-

starting the design process. “You’re not designing for

ing for an audience that is equally as up-to-date as



yourself, you’re living in a perfect world and success is assured. However, invariably, you will have at least a percentage of your audience that is technologicallychallenged, operating with outdated software and equipment. You will lose those people entirely if they are not able to download, open or access your messages. “There is another side to electronic communication that makes it even more challenging than print,” Hemphill continues. “The retention factor is a problem. If, for instance, you are opting for an e-mail campaign, you will find that you’re often competing with hundreds of other e-mails and you have to take into account the fact that most people receive a rush of messages during their initial download for the day. Due to the sheer number of e-mails flowing backwards and forwards, people have had to adapt their reading habits. Your mail has to be easy to open or easy to download. Messages must be short and concise. The reader must be able to distinguish the intent of the message immediately and if there’s a call to action, it must be easy to identify and easy to follow.”

The before and after versions of the redeveloped identity for The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA), designed by ThoughtCapital.



SAB Internal Communications, designed by ThoughtCapital.

While the digital world has made it easier to track statistics, any strategy that requires a recipient to register or log in can be more of an annoyance than it’s worth. Online loyalty programmes with a host of pre-conditions and convoluted qualifying procedures could become a negative, rather than a beneficial association with the brand. Confusing or complicated messages can be discarded at the click of a button and then your entire campaign, as far as the reader is concerned, is over. “With most budgets having been slashed and margins squeezed even more, you have to be really thorough in order to survive. Simplicity and clarity are vitally important. Now, more than ever, your identity must reflect who you are and what you represent without any blurred lines. Your vision, mission statement and brand strategy must resonate in unison. The correct positioning and a clear, consistent and visually appropriate The Wedding Expo website & poster, designed by ThoughtCapital.


brand message will save you thousands of words of explanation in the long run,� he concludes. <


「XIN –信」

The Manifesto


Organiser: China Central Academy of Fine Arts / Beijing Gehua Cultural Development Group

Literally signifying human speaking and hence message/letter in Chinese, XIN - 信 represents a primitive means of communication. Ye Y t today XIN has come to encompass more dimensions than ever before. Through the theme of XIN - 信 , Icograda World Design Congress 2009 Beijing, seeks to explore contemporary issues and challenges facing communication design. The Congress will address these issues and challenges in four dimensions: A((ccess))— design democracy and accessibility, B((alance))—unity, harmony, C((ommunicate))—Information and crosscultural communication, D((efine))—design of the future and for the future. The UN General Assembly instituted World Development Information Day in 1972, drawing attention of global public opinion to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them (resolution 3038). The assembly decided that the date for the day should coincide in principle with United Nations Day, 24 October, r which was als o r, the date of the adoption, in 1970 of the International Development Strategy. 24 October is also the first day of XIN Beijing. The UN General Assembly believed, like designers that improving the dissemination of information through communication design and the mobilisation of public opinion, particularly among young people would lead to greater awareness and cooperation in solving the problems of international development. Communication designers of the world, join us in action at XIN - 信 , Icograda World Design Congress in Beijing from 24-30 October 2009. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

「XIN - 信」


T: +86 10 8418 6844 F: +86 10 8418 6840 E: Official Media

Corporate Partner

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Have your cake and eat it too By Sidhika Sooklal

Cupcakes. What a wonderful decadent thought. Cupcakes evoke nostalgic thoughts of childhood birthday parties, where little moreish cakes were crowned in luscious, sweet, creamy goodness and bejewelled accordingly. Everyone loves cupcakes and very few people could easily say no to an innocent delicious cupcake.


ne business that saw the need to fulfil the starving cupcake market is ilovecupcake. The business, now with three stores in Parkhurst, Centurion and Melrose, cater to an exclusive, niche market. Decadent treats for not only children, but the child within us all.

The concept of the retail design is based on French patisserie – a lot of pink, white and black with sprinklings of cheeky, fun, tongue-in-cheek elements like birds and cats. Christa says “if you’ve ever seen the ceiling in the Parkhurst store you would know what I mean about fun elements”.

Christa Kearns, general manager, of ilovecupcake and her business partner, Roelof van Wyk, explain that they felt that there was a need for a store that stocked a variety of cupcakes – the classics like vanilla, chocolate and maybe strawberry were available but they wanted to extend that selection to offer more. They also decided to provide the best quality cupcake, not the cheapest.

Gustav Greffrath is the designer responsible for capturing the fun elements Christa is speaking about is. A colleague of Roelof’s, Gustav explains that the process for coming up with the visual concepts behind the solution was based on eating a lot of cupcakes. Sounds like one of those horrible jobs someone has to have their rubber arm twisted to do.

Various components of the brand’s identity programme.


122 > COMMUNICATION DESIGN Gustav explains that with his visual solutions “the focus was the product, so the solution was to visually communicate the brand in an interesting and fun way. This was achieved by creating individual logos for each of the cupcakes. Other elements that communicated a storybook or fairytale concept were also incorporated into both the printed identity and the physical store. Every element was treated as a stand-alone device rather than a part of a typical visual identity. This allowed a lot of freedom and it kept the design elements fresh”. Gustav believes that this is a good solution because it gives depth to the brand and moves it beyond just a logo and colour palette. Gustav continues: “The brand ilovecupcake keeps evolving and its identity seems to be coping without having to redo or re-look elements.

There is enough depth in the identity to allow for different outcomes every time it is applied. It is a flexible identity that does not limit creative solutions. To me that is the characteristics of a successful visual identity.” Christa Kearns describes the delights and downfalls of opening one’s own business. “We have worked very hard to make our name a recognisable one – we had fantastic exposure when we opened and the brand has become very popular. I am in the fortunate position to have a very creative person as a business partner. It’s the little things that make the difference. When you start a niche business you unfortunately have no other model to refer to or steal ideas from, we have made a few mistakes like choosing the wrong display fridges for our first store. We learnt very quickly that

The focus of the brand was the product. This was achieved by creating individual logos for each of the cupcakes.

we had to change them but unfortunately we had spent the money. We also chose to open a central bakery in Centurion and to supply the Johannesburg stores from there, however Sanral decided more or less at the same time to start with extensive roadworks between Johannesburg and Centurion – this meant that we were stuck in massive traffic jams with orders and stock and unfortunately we could not predict when there would be an accident and so forth, so we frequently had to deal with irate customers. We have sorted out that problem as far as possible.” The business has grown exponentially. Christa explains: “We started in November 2007 with the bakery and Blubird store; in August 2008 we opened the Parkhurst store. Currently we are working on plans to change

our shop in Blubird around by building in a small bakery, we have also employed a qualified chef who will bake on site, not really the usual cupcakes but a more out of the box cupcake that you can sit and have at the shop. Watch that space! We want to focus more on a business model that we can franchise and that’s what we are working towards with Blubird. We have been inundated with requests about franchising.” It seems like the concept of fusing a unique entrepreneurial idea and a beautiful graphic aesthetic, quite like the icing on a luscious little cake, is leading ilovecupcake into the future. But all this talk is making my mouth water and I bet yours too, what a treat! <



Is it simple? Is it clear?

Is it beautiful?


implicity, clarity and beauty: This is the design mantra that Justin Plunkett applies to all his projects, from high-profile illustrations for

leading brands to the quirky products he produces under the banner of his design studio, Joom. He explains that each design element is consciously considered against these criteria, so that every creative decision is driven not only by aesthetics, but by a clear focus on creating something that really works. His most recent illustrations were for TBWA\Hunt\ Lascaris as part of the Standard Bank ‘Moving Forward’ campaign which launched on 18 July. The agency set out to create a unique look-and-feel to help Standard Bank cut through the sameness and clutter of the financial services market, and they gave Justin free reign to interpret their conceptual brief. He created a series of 3D visualisations of their ‘Moving Forward’ positioning, which were then incorporated into their campaign elements. Watch out for a giant building wrap-around in Sandton City in the near future featuring one of his designs.

Why rock when you can sproinnnng? The plucky little Springbuck takes the blah out of ride-on toys with an unmistakeable African flavour and a heap of springy fun. At last, the bushveld meets the rocking horse meets the pogo stick. Kids will wish they had one, parents will wish they came in grown-up sizes.

Working in 3D is a somewhat recent addition to Justin’s design toolkit – he’s been a sought-after illustrator for many years due to his ability to work in many styles, but has now started to explore the possibilites of threedimensional modelling as well. That’s not to say that his portfolio previously included only two-dimensional design work – far from it. He has undertaken succesful projects that were quite literally


3D in nature, including interior design for a local retail outlet and a Middle Eastern branding and design studio. For the latter project, he created an entire range of bespoke furnishings. He is also well known for his whimsical Mooj bookcase, which was named a finalist in the ‘Most Beautiful Object in South Africa’ competition held at the 2007 Design Indaba Expo. All finalists were nominated by a high-profile curator panel made up of leading South African designers, critics, stylists and editors, and judged by renowned Dutch designer Jurgen Bey. Justin’s Springbuck ride-on toy also debuted to industry acclaim, and was featured in New York’s I.D. magazine,

Dwell magazine in California and numerous other local and international design publications. Earlier in his career, Justin had the opportunity to work as a senior designer for Adidas in Germany, and as creative director of a succession of agencies including Neutone, where he won one gold and two bronze Loerie Awards for a Cell C campaign. His agency background gives him strategic branding know-how to back up his design skills. Despite his undeniable accomplishments, when asked which of his work he’s most proud of in his whole career, he immediately refers to a kiaat dining table he recently designed and which was built for him by John Vogel of Vogel Design. His passion and enthusiasm in talking about the lines and angles of this piece reveals that his future almost certainly lies in furniture and product design. <


ABOVE: Cell C. This campaign, ‘Art of Conversation’, won three Loerie Awards, including one Gold. Working with photographer Crispian Plunkett, Justin illustrated two billboards and retouched the entire campaign for agency Network BBDO. FAR LEFT: Illustrations for Standard Bank, commissioned by TBWA Hunt/Lascaris. This rocket will be a monumental billboard wrapping Sandton City.

TOP: Lobola* will never be the same again. This life-sized bovine behemoth is inspired by the humble African cow in form, and a room-dividing bookcase in function. Solidly constructed but set onto sturdy wheels, Mooj is a whole lot easier to move around than a real cow, and infinitely less likely to leave any surprises behind the sofa. No bull. *bride price, typically in cattle, paid to the bride’s father among some Southern African tribal groups. ABOVE: A new project, table and bench prototype.



Annual reporting breaks the traditional mould and gets creative

The Cotlands Annual Report 2008, designed by HKLM


raditionally, corporate annual reports have been

(editorial) of the report, together with its design, are

regarded purely as a source of a company’s

where companies can really stand out. Corporates whose

financial information – deemed a somewhat

reports combine form with function and target a broad

complicated, if not tedious and boring read.

audience can successfully unleash the annual report’s true power as a reputation-enhancing tool,” adds

According to Karin Boshoff, head of HKLM Exchange,


the annual report and investor relations specialist division within strategic design and branding agency,

Granted, investors aren’t specifically interested in the

HKLM, this is changing fast.

design of a company’s annual report, and any decisions taken are unlikely to be greatly influenced by the report’s

“Companies are increasingly realising that annual

style. But the better an analyst or investor perceives a

reports are actually essential, strategic communication

company, the greater the likelihood of increased

tools that allow interested stakeholders to fully under-

positive supportive behaviour.

stand, evaluate and form their opinions of an organisation. Such reports are costly, but corporates are

“International trends point to three major factors in

realising the business benefits. Seeing that they are

annual reporting that influence stakeholders’ percep-

spending the money anyway, they might as well get

tions: content, design and form, and service and

return on their investment and make it work harder

delivery. Content relates to the facts and figures – the

and better,” says Boshoff.

meat – of the report, and service and delivery to the timely delivery of reports, as well as online access to

The annual report has evolved from a static purveyor of

supporting information and general follow-up. Design

financial information into a dynamic and highly acces-

factors include the look-and-feel of the report and,

sible document that influences the way companies

more importantly, the degree to which the company’s

are perceived by those that matter to them, whether

own corporate brand is conveyed and how design

investors, potential investors, employees, potential

aids the reader in accessing information. The most

employees or competitors and other stakeholders. It

admired companies stamp their identity throughout

has become an important reputation management

the report while not allowing form to overtake


function. These are the same companies that, through consistency and authenticity, allow their annual

With this renewed focus and understanding of the

report to work in tandem with all other corporate

annual report and its strategic role has come a greater

communications in managing the firm’s reputation,”

emphasis on good information design.

Boshoff explains.

“The communication of operational and financial infor-

US-based ( specialises in

mation is fast becoming standardised through market

report input, evaluation, analysis and benchmarking.

requirements and regulation. But the front sections

It is the researcher and publisher of the Annual Report




on Annual Reports – the only global report ranking. In assessing reports, the company not only weighs up the document’s content, and service and delivery, but also its presentation in terms of the cover, pictures, layout, typography, visual elements and design, specifically as it relates to conveying the report’s core messages. In South Africa, Ernst & Young publishes a survey of annual reports from SA’s top 100 companies and top ten parastatals. It too considers the design of the report when judging and ranking companies’ corporate reporting efforts. At least 8% of the marking plan is reserved for the report’s presentation, which includes “overall impressions as to the layout and accessibility of information and innovation shown in presenting the annual report”. In September 2007, Brunswick rated South Africa as one of the best in its class in its review of the FTSE500’s annual reports and 200 global ‘mega caps’. The SA reports scored highest against the criteria, ‘clearly articulated strategy’, ‘relationships with suppliers’, ‘details of senior management’, ‘corporate responsiThe Cotlands Annual Report 2008, designed by HKLM.

bility reporting’ and ‘clear investment proposition’. So if design is so important, what are the critical design success factors in the annual report? “The report’s tone is usually set by the CEO’s letter to shareholders, which should be a performance-based message, providing a snapshot of results and the business outlook. It should establish the company’s strategy and portray its short and long term vision. The first 20 pages are the most important” says Boshoff.



The Cotlands Annual Report 2007, designed by HKLM.

“Good pictures are crucial, especially of the CEO and

increasingly interested in the corporate governance

chairman. But pictures shouldn’t replace the facts – a

information and management incentives. Good reports

report filled with images is often seen as a mask for are fed by good information, but the best reports feed companies that don’t want to say too much.” back management and strategy.” “The visuals should be striking, beginning with the “It’s ultimately the report’s design that pulls all these report cover (which should reflect a personality, answer- features together to create one, cohesive document ing to the company’s brand platform), creative, relevant, in line with other attributes of the report. Pictures used for any reason other than to convey information, are useless.”

that allows companies to enhance the way the reader perceives it on all fronts,” says Boshoff. “It is estimated that the Top 100 companies spend on

“Signposting is essential. The annual report can comprise of up to 200 pages. To be effective, readers must be able to navigate their way around the report and find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Pull

average R51 million annually on these publications, thus, annual reporting shouldn’t be left to the last minute... To get the best value for money, companies need to plan ahead and give the designers sufficient

quotes, bullet points and typography that highlight

time to do their financial investment justice. Although

key data and provide a hierarchy of information with-

necessary, annual reports aren’t a necessary evil and

in specific sections, are also critical.”

should reflect this commitment.

“The notion that investors are only interested in the

“At HKLM, we take the time to understand the content so

financial facts is false. They are interested in the report’s

that we know what is most important to communicate.

tone and emphasis, messages from management and

Because a report that informs is good, but a report

the forward-looking information. Shareholders are

that communicates is better,” concludes Boshoff. <


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n our capitalist world, the constant jostling of attention by brands takes many forms. Appealing to the consumer’s ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘something for nothing’ mentality, marketers have found competitions and ‘free’ giveaways a brilliant way to attract attention and ultimately market share.

On a more professional level, competitions tend to have a slightly different impact and often far more meaningful outcomes for the participants. The Art of Design competition staged bi-annually by creative paper merchants, Antalis South Africa, is an excellent example of how the hype surrounding a competition can raise awareness of a company, its products, the entrants and the industry as a whole.

Creative papers can be used as an art medium, as was illustrated by the series of paper sculptures of various recipes created by Hazel Buchan, which were photographed and included in the “The Designer SmörgåsBox” presented at the launch of the Art of Design 2010 competition.

Now in its 23rd year, the Art of Design competition for 2010 was recently launched at venues in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. Graphic designers and selected printers were treated to the delights of The “SmörgåsBox”, crafted from the original idea of a Smorgasbord made from paper as a stimulus to kick-start the competition. “The aim of Art of Design is to encourage designers to push the boundaries of their capabilities through the creative use of paper,” says Antalis Marketing Manager, Caroline Coughlan. “Just putting the brief together for the competition involved thinking ‘out of the box’ and as executors of the concepts, 2008 Grand Prix winner, Breinstorm Brand Architects, used many unusual elements.” A competition of this nature does more than raise the level of awareness of the sponsor’s brand. It draws participants in, to examine the intricacies of the product offering, to explore the different creative options and to measure themselves against other entrants. It’s an exercise in perspectives and creative outcomes. “The competition was first launched by the then Wiggins Teape in 1985, continued by First Paper, and is now exclusively managed, staged and hosted by Antalis,” says Marketing and Purchasing Director, David James. “In a way, Antalis provides the platform for Art of Design to attract designer entries and the judges are drawn from the design industry.”

Stimulating student participation Although Antalis’ clients are primarily printers, it’s the creative processes leading up to the printing that caught

the paper merchants’ attention. The competition has 8 categories including the student category, as a way of stimulating the next generation to focus on the dynamics of designing for print. It was this category that proved somewhat challenging for this year’s competition and in an effort to raise the standard of entries, Breinstorm Brand Architects persuaded Darden Studios in New York to give Antalis access to some of their font glyphs for the competition. “The brief for the student category is for each entrant to choose a fictitious company for which they must create branding using the glyphs,” explains Eben Keun of Breinstorm Brand Architects “This is a highly beneficial formation

136 > PAPER & PACKAGING exercise as they then learn what typography is all about, instead of relying merely on what they can source on their computers.”

A foundation for communication One of the most important aspects of the competition is that it gets the entrants thinking more about what can be achieved through an appropriate choice of paper as the basic foundation for communication. It is not necessary to over-do the designs if the paper choice is right in the first place. “Many people think that 8colour printing makes good design, but design can be just as effective with a simple 2-colour print job. In fact,

Caroline Coughlan, Antalis Marketing Manager, speaking at the launch of the Art of Design 2010 competition.

minimal printing on a more tactile paper can produce stunning results,” explains Coughlan. “Another way of extending the brand message is through the use of FSC accredited and recycled papers that convey the correct message of the company’s concern for the future of the environment. The Art of Design 2010 piece a ‘SmörgåsBox’ was crafted using a recycled grade Environment printed in black with an opaque white showcasing the concept of less is more.” Creative papers, of course, can be used for far more than merely one dimensional printing. They can be used as an art form, too, as was illustrated by the series of paper sculptures of various recipes created by Hazel Buchan, which were photographed and included in the ‘The Designer SmörgåsBox’ presented at the launch of the competition. There’s no doubt that a competition such as the Art of Design opens many doors for the winners and enhances their reputations as designers of note. There is, then, a double spin-off if a competition is well thoughtthrough and well presented, attracting just the right calibre of entrant to give meaning and stature to the whole event. < formation

Guests exploring their ‘SmörgåsBoxes’at the launch of the Art of Design 2010 competition.

Design your way to The Big Apple!* Entries open!


Work produced between 1 July 2008 & 30 June 2010 and printed on exclusive Antalis papers are eligible for entry in the following categories:

Cards Bound Brochures Unbound Brochures Corporate Identity Open Category Digital Category Annual Reports Student Category √

All entries need to reach Antalis by 23 July 2010

Visit for information or request your entry kit for all competition details at * The Antalis Art of Design Grand Prix winner gets a trip to New York worth R50 000!

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IDEAS THAT MATTER 10: euroPean Winners announceD

A Decade of Giving photo album 2003 - 2007 Grant recipients from North America.


he results of the 10th Ideas that Matter

Winners were selected from 113 applicants including

initiative by Sappi has recently been revealed

individual designers, design firms, in-house design

with ten winners and four runners-up selected

departments, design teachers and students. The inter-

from five countries across Europe.

national committee based their decisions on the originality, relevance and commitment of the print-

Sappi’s Ideas that Matter programme awards grants

based creative ideas to a chosen cause.

worth US$1 million each year to graphic designers globally, enabling them to promote their chosen social,

The judging panel consisted of Helmut Langer, graphic

environmental or humanitarian causes. Applicants

designer and former president of Icograda, Germany;

are required to submit their print-based creative ideas

Dominic Lyle, European Association of Communications

supporting their cause, a description of the campaign

Agencies (EACA), Belgium; and Michel Chanaud,

and its objectives, cost estimates for implementation

managing director Pyramyd, France.

and information about the non-profit organisation involved. The campaigns must exploit the effective-

Helmut Langer commented, “The Ideas that Matter

ness of ideas on paper, with applicants required to

initiative attracted a very high number of inspiring entries

explain how the success of their campaigns will be

all supporting causes that would be more than worthy


of the grants.�



The 10 winners Designers – Alexander Zelmanovics, Dieter Pivmec, Nikolaus Leischko, Saskia Beck, Michael Grill, Hannes Böcker, Werner Bühringer & Martina Raminger, Lowe GGK Werbeagentur, Wien. Country – Austria. Campaign title – This is how life feels to butterfly children. Organisation – debra-austria, Wien. >

Designers – Dentsu Production Concepts & Philip Tetley-Jones, Brussels. Country – Belgium. Campaign title – Help us to help them. Organisation – Rafiki Ya Watoto, Brussels >

Campaign title – “Papers”: a gateway Organisation – Blonba, Fontenay-sous-bois Designers – Stefan Gebhard, Jürgen Uhl & Chris Weinmann, Graphikbuero Gebhard/Uhl, Freiburg Country – Germany Campaign title – No milk today. Let’s talk about cows. Organisation – Animal’s angels, Frankfurt >

Designers – Kurt Steinebrunner & Nadja Riedel, S1 Büro für Gestaltung, Augsburg. Country – Germany Campaign title – We can do everything but hear Organisation – Netzwerk der GehörlosenStadtverbände.e. V., München >

Designer – Antoine Olivier, Paris. Country – France. Campaign title – Keepers of the Amazon. A look through the lens at people who protect the forest. Organisation – Autres Brésils, Paris

Designers – Alexandra Bald, Ana Lessing & Esra Rotthoff, Haushoch, Berlin; Uggi Kaldan & Skateistan team, Essen Country – Germany Campaign title – Skateistan, Support the freedom of skateboarding! Organisation – Skateistan e. V.

Designers – Claire Darmon, Margaux Elissalde, Pauline Country – France

Designers – John Corcoran, Dan Collins, Peter Higgins & Tim Sawford, Wire Design Ltd, London

Dominic Lyle, EACA, Belgium, “Overall we were very

areas such as biodiversity. However there is plenty of

impressed by the standard of entries and it was a difficult

scope for future projects and inspiration.”





decision to whittle the entries down to 10. However, we have selected the projects that we felt demonstrated

Manue Gheysen from Sappi, who chaired the judging,

unique creativity and an innovative use of design and

commented, “Every year we are impressed by the

print applications to promote the causes.”

levels of creativity and the willingness of the design community to support social causes. This year we

Michel Chanaud, Pyramyd, France, “There were many

have seen a trend towards tackling an issue from a

entries addressing a range of issues but next year, we

positive angle, for example demonstrating possible

would like to see even more entries representing

or existing results, as opposed to highlighting what

Country – UK Campaign title – Beyond Big Type Organisation – Employers Forum on Disability, London Designers – Emmi Salonen, Emmi, London Country – UK Campaign title – Catalyst inspiring Arts ideas for teachers Organisation – The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts (CATA), London >

Designers – Marie Benstead, Eve Design Ltd, London Country – UK Campaign title – Close to the edge Organisation – Changing Tunes, Bristol >

Designers – Clemens Slama, Graphische Lehrund Versuchsanstalt, Wien. Teachers: Werner Gregori, Giovanni Corsaro, Hermann Schindler & Gudi Schwien. Country – Austria Campaign title – Anti-racism-column Organisation – Zara Zivilcourage und AntiRassismus-Arbeit, Wien >

Designers – Julien Carlier, Laurent Sick & ESAT, Colmar Country – France Campaign title – An affirmed difference Organisation – Etablissement et service d’aide par le travail (ESAT) l’Evasion- APEI Centre Alsace, Sélestat >

Designers – Petra Matijevic & Blaz Ritmanic, Ljubliana Country – Slovenia Campaign title – Prolong life Organisation – Institute for Transplantation of organs and tissues of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubliana. >

The 4 runners-up Designers – Claude Assel, Die Graphische, Wien. Teachers: Werner Gregori & Giovanni Corsaro Country – Austria Campaign title – Against racism for civil courage Organisation – Zara Zivilcourage und AntiRassismus-Arbeit, Wien >

is wrong. It was also very interesting to witness the

For further details on Sappi Ideas that Matter and other

different approaches used ranging from very subtle

Sappi activities visit the Sappi website at

messaging to hard-hitting and emotional.”

or join the Ideas that Matter community on Facebook and LinkedIn. <

This year, Sappi will donate €1,000 to the non-profit organisations of the four runners-up. Certificates of achievement will be given to the winners and runnersup, as well as an invitation to celebrate a decade of ‘Ideas that Matter’ in style at the European awards ceremony in Brussels, Belgium on 10th October 2009. formation

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“I see the book as a living organism� By Jacques Lange

The fusion of contemporary design and ancient symbolism are the hallmarks of the elegant and transfixing books designed by Ulhas Moses. And off course, one cannot ignore the spectacular explosions of colour that he creates to take readers on inspiring reading journeys.


lhas Moses is an emerging designer and artist from India with a bright future. After graduating

On book design

with a Masters degree in Visual Communica-

Ulhas Moses has a deep-rooted passion for books and

tion from the Industrial Design Centre, IIT Bombay, he

he loves designing them. “I see the book as a ‘living

founded UMS Design Studio. The studio’s work has

organism’, and treat it as a ecosystem of thought,

recently won a string of awards and has been featured

words, typography, images, colours, while also con-

in some of the most prominent international annuals

sidering the intention of the author, the subject matter

and books.

and the reader, as they all interact over the pages over time and space.” As a book designer, he believes that

Moses says that his focus is on innovation. He states:

one should not separated as inner pages and outer

“The most innovative aspect of my practice is how I

cover but the whole should rather be treated as a

combine the energies and sensibilities of Art+ Craft+

single body. “The book starts with one singular sheet

Design – an approach engaging contemporary graphic

of paper which contains information, several such

design with traditional Indian symbolism and ideology

single sheets of paper are then collected together

to form a new Asian design language – a language

and ordered by a binding system or spine to create a

with a conflating soul, logic and vision.”

‘whole ecosystem’.”

His work is vivid, lush, mystical and often has a pain-

When talking about the issue of reading or navigation,

terly quality, using vibrant colours, bold brush strokes, splashes, explosions and intersections, and intricate line work which achieves an aesthetic level that has few comparisons. “My work defies description or category because it is multilingual. It is simply this: the foundation for superb work that travels far, far beyond the borders of India to communicate with audiences in many places who speak many languages. Polyglot? No. Universally articulate, significant, evocative and real. Yes,” he says. Explaining his convergent ‘Art+Craft+Design’ philosophy, Moses says: “I seek a delicate balance between these three elements. Art deals with heightened emo-

Moses says, “for me, the navigation through a book is very important, especially the element of creating surprise over a page turn and the treatment of opposing parts – the left page and right page of the book. Furthermore, I explore and challenge the concept of traditional pagination which can be altered through different fold out pages, paper cutting, folding or new binding systems to create innovative book structures.” “I also like to employ paper engineering techniques to create three-dimensional pages that can have depth and movable or kinetic structures which add dynamism and I particularly enjoy experimenting with printing techniques on various types of paper to create unique colour and tactile sensations.”

tional responses, intuition, perception and vision. Craft deals with skill, understanding materials and tech-

For Moses, every book that he designs needs to have a

niques. It has a lot to do with working with one’s hand to

core creative idea which informes its physical structure

lend the human touch (soul) to the work. Design is

and architecture. “The core idea gives birth to the

about creating order, the encoding of signs, information,

form of the book. The form can then manifest in many

structure, typography and production and manufactur-

aesthetic and creative ways but it must always com-

ing process.”

municate that core idea and most importantly engage formation


the five senses of the reader at all times, thus creating a constant dialogue between the two ultimately making the book a precious friend,” he explains.

Favorite projects The best way to understand and appreciate Moses’s design philosophy and approach to book design is to look at a few of his favourite projects.

Children of Balwadi

Children of the Balwadi Client: International Centre for Ethographic Studies This 368-page book documents the Balwadi education system in India. Balwadi education is a free education system provided to children from economically challenged sections of society in India. Moses explains that “the subject matter could have been dull and drab and therefore I heightened interest by the use of exciting and brightly-coloured illustrations which I derived from the very children’s artworks and scribbles. I intensified the impact of the illustrations by printing certain elements in fluorescent inks. In addition, the inner pages feature dramatic black and white photographs and bright chapter intro spreads that add colour relief throughout.”

Creative Future

Creative Future Client: British Council, India This is a commemorative book designed for the ‘Creative Future’ entrepreneurship awards. Moses says: “The yellow butterfly has often been used as a metaphor for creativity and innovation. The design uses futuristic pixel-style graphics fused with Indian motifs. Yellow and black have been boldly

Social Entrepreneurship


150 > PAPER & PACKAGING represents the grassroots work that social entrepreneurs do. Its mandala-like structure and pattern expands outwards and shows growth and positive radiance.” The organic motif starts from a small green dot in the centre of the book. This green dot represents a small seed sown by a social entrepreneur. This green dot also represents the ‘bindu’ or the ‘origin of creation’ of Indian philosophy. The motif is printed on several pages and concentric circles are cut into the pages. This forms a ‘tunnel structure’ which gives the book its 3-D depth. As the pages are turned, the organic pattern grows and the static design becomes kinetic, thus indicating transformation and social change.” Scriptwriting print piece

Scriptwriting print piece contrasted to generate movement and excitement. The design uses crafty and modern trompe l’oeil devices to covey the message. He explains that on the souvenir book cover, the butterfly has been made to pop-up using origami production techniques to simulate the butterfly taking off in flight. On the inner page there are 20 butterfly wings, which have been die-cut into the pages, on lifting the wing the picture, the 20 finalists for the awards and their names are revealed. Moses says that with this project he intentionally challenged the limits of design, printing and production.

Social Entrepreneurship in India Client: UnLtd India This book design was created for the first international conference on social entrepreneurship in India. Moses explains that the anchor concepts of this book design are growth and transformation. “The design uses Indian Iconography in a contemporary context. A hand-drawn traditional mandala-like organic growth motif forms the main visual element. This organic motif formation

Client: British Council, India This print piece was created for a scriptwriting workshop conducted by the British Council for scriptwriters working in Indian cinema. The design solution is entirely typographic. Moses explains that the publication is packed in a slipcase and uses a visual illusion device. When the piece is inserted into its slipcase one can read the word ‘SCRIPT’, but when it is taken out of its case it morphs into an abstract typographical composition of Indian scripts, which shows the rich diversity of the various forms of cinema and languages in India. Moses further explains that it then unfolds again into a typographic photo collage of various Indian scripts and there are three more ‘hidden’ smaller information books which are randomly placed at angles. They appear disguised as if under the collage of scripts creating the feeling of searching under the collage to reveal the three books. In addition, Moses used sepia-toned photo collages, which are juxtaposed with bright fluorescent green to represent the old and modern ways of writing and interpreting screenplays. <




ood designers know that designing is all about fun and self-enjoyment. Kinda like breaking it down on the dance floor on a Friday night…the infamous ‘spinning wheel of hell’ a weak substitute for the glittering disco ball above the dance floor of their desktop. During most days (and nights) designers’ faithful dance partner is the lone speaker or headphones, blaring repetitive beats, cheery lyrics and toe-tapping tunes. We find solace in words and sounds that creative people, like us, have produced. In the past few decades both the design and music industry have become to rely on one another. Remember the fifties, during the Pop Art movement? Andy Warhol used contemporary

design techniques such as silk screening to create his interpretations of Elvis, Lisa Minnelli and Mick Jager, immortalising them on canvas. Across the ocean, English pop artist, Peter Blake created album sleeves for both Elvis and The Beatles. In 2006, at the age of 71, Blake designed the album cover for Oasis’s greatest hits album, Stop the Clocks, proving that design and music can transcend and unite age groups and paradigms. During the last decade, music and design have gone from best friends to lovers. Several companies and individuals have emerged creating the many faces and images of our favourite bands and musicians.

Maybe Dutch graphic designer Andre Toet says it best: “F**k design, let’s dance.” There are designers who strive to do exactly that – dance to their own beat.

We all have heard of the great collaborations: Stefan Sagmeister (Aerosmith, David Byrne and The Rolling Stones), Jonathan Barnbrook (David Bowie and Tuxedomoon), David Carson (Nine Inch Nails and Bush) and Neville Brody (James Brown, Depeche Mode and Kurtis Blow). South African born duo Carin Standford and Casper Franken formed SHOTOPOP which is based in the UK ( They are responsible for the likes of PET (now called CRAY), Chris Chameleon, Format 3, The ocean doesn’t want me and Skunk Anansie. Their most recent endevour is the redesign of the logo, website and the new video for the UK group Skunk Anansie’s Smashes & Trashes album.

South African companies such as iamcollective and Tennant Mckay have been linked to the likes of aKING and Jack Johnson, respectively. Even back in the days – who can forget William Kentridge’s epic music video for Mango Groove’s Another Country? The two industries seem to be diverging and African designers are often at the cutting edge, pushing all possible boundaries. During 2008, four young South African designers collaborated with the band 5menthreemissing to produce formation


Skunk Anasie’s Because of you, the first single from the new album, Smashes & Trashes. The video was directed by SHOTOPOP. Directors of photography were Fractured Films.



a concept called Original Dolphins. Art directors and designers Koos Groenewald, Moira-Gene Sephton , Jana Hamman and copywriter Rory MacRobert are all currently working at Hello World Agency and Coenraad Grebe (art director/designer) who works at TBWA Hunt/ Lascaris met up with their friends Joao and Emil (5menthreemissing) who were playing their third gig. The band wanted to do something that would grab people’s attention and make them engage with their music. 5menthreemissing wanted to do musically what the designers do through their design: create experiences that are, engaging, relevant and memorable. And hence the Dolphinarium was born, a side-project driven by a very real need to do work that they love,

just because they could – removed from the reality of clients and budgets. Hamman described Dolphinarium as “an experimental, electronic music experience. Watching the band perform is as satisfying as listening to their music. They believe that audience interaction and involvement is as important as the music they play. They are a new breed that goes against mainstream radio shit that conforms to popular musical norms. Therefore, we decided to ‘manufacture’ them a new breed of fan, ones that would unconform to their music.” The final result? A playful theme that represented their approach to music – robo fans. The robo heads were individually silkscreened and used as invites to the gig. Emailable and downloadable mini-heads were sent out to a database,

also inviting them to the event but doubling as roboheads for their vinyl toys. “We built a giant robo head stage for the duo to perform on, and finished it off by advertising the band’s next gig on Polaroid pics that we took of individuals in the crowd.” There’s a lot of pretty cool stuff happening between music and design. The way of the world now allows people to infiltrate and merge their interests creating careers that span across different disciplines. The hybrid is born: The designer|musician continually transforms the way we live, what we listen to and what shows we go to. Some hybrids of the past include: Freddy Mercury (graphic design), Brian Eno (graphic design), Corrine Drewery (fashion design), M.I.A (design and fine arts), Jack Johnson (film), Jim Morrison (film), Peter Gabriel

(graphic design), whilst Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Richard Wright of Pink Floyd met at architecture school. Let’s venture in the hybrid minds of Johnny Kotze (Johnny Neon), Givan Lötz and Nigel Moore (former frontman of Howard Roark), all South African born and bred.

Johnny Kotze, owner of The Motel | Johnny neon SS > Describe both your musical and design background: JK > I studied design and illustration at Stellenbosch and started making electronic music with a friend while we were at university together... After the four-year

Dolphinarium; robo fans; the downloadable mini-heads for vinyl toys and a polaroid advert for the next 5menthreemissing gig.



Johnny Neon

course I took some time and started making music for about a year and put together the Johnny Neon album.

enjoyed drawing and illustration … so I guess it was a pretty natural thing to combine the two.

SS > Do you think design and music relate to one another?

SS > What is the main aim of your work?

JK > I guess it works well because they are both outlets for my ideas and they are part of what I do and feel and listen to. It’s not like a mainstream album or illustration piece where it’s all done and controlled by a hundred different people. I’m a total control freak and I would rather do it all myself. I think the two are linked in many ways, I guess. I have always liked music and writing music and I have always

JK > To be honest, I don’t really know where any of it is going. I just do it because I have to. I need to make music and I need to do my illustration and design work. There’s not one without the other. SS > Which artists, both locally and internationally, do you think integrate the two disciplines effectively? JK > Alex Trochet’s work is a big inspiration. His typography is out of this world and the quality, detail


and concepts are amazing. He also does lots of musicrelated work like album covers for the Rolling Stones, for instance. SS > What bands, live acts or albums do you think are beautifully designed, both musically and visually? JK > Locally the aKING work by Marchand is great .. and there’s definitely a current going through the work that ties it all together. I like that it’s thought out and planned and not just random all over the place. Plus the illustrations are great. SS > What new and exciting projects are you working on currently? JK > I’m doing my illustration work with my company ‘the motel’ and then I also have my electro synth rock music with Johnny Neon. I also have an old grunge rock band The Firebirds which is a new project that I want to play with and see where it goes. I’m currently also working on producing music with other bands.

JK > You’ve got the super conservatives side by side with the super indie and ’alternative’ people. It makes it interesting. Both kind of feed off each other and I think and they are both a result of each other. SS > What CDs are you currently listening to? JK > La roux, ladyhawke, empire of the sun, Neil Young, fleet foxes, justice .. the list goes on forever. SS > Would you encourage students to study both fields or can one be mastered in other ways than the technical know-how of a university degree? JK > I think people should be encouraged to study. I don’t think you can ever be taught how to make good music or write a good song – it’s probably one of the hardest things to do – writing a good song. If you’ve got some talent in either one then go study design or illustration and start writing your own songs on the way.

SS > From where do you draw inspiration?

Givan Lötz: Designer at Rex Worldwide / Singer

JK > I used to go through tons of my dad’s old National Geographics from the seventies. I could draw stuff out of those for hours. It was a good way to develop my style of illustration – you’ve got to keep on top of what’s happening in the world as wel,l so I look online and at exhibitions all the time.

SS > Describe both your musical and design background:

SS > You describe both your design and music as ‘alternative’. Is it challenging or exciting to confront the conservative SA market?


GL > I have a degree in Information Design from the University of Pretoria. In addition to a standard folk training, I have training in classical composition and performance on guitar and trumpet. Singing I learnt in the shower. SS > Do you ever integrate your music and design?




Promotional elements for the launch of Givian Lötz’s album Easy Now.

GL > Yes. Most obviously, having a design background is useful when the time comes to package an album or make a flyer for a gig. As author of both the music and visual there is a tighter correlation between the two. There’s one message. Sometimes I also create motion graphics that are projected during my performance, enhancing the audio visual experience and adding extra layers of meaning.

SS > What is the main aim of your work? GL > It’s mainly about being covertly transgressive – or at least surprising. Typically, I exploit the seduction of a traditional form, like folk music, and subvert it with unexpected or jarring content. Or the reverse, or not. It’s not about being cool or crazy. In order to be surprising the viewer or listener first has to have some expectation.

SS > Do you think the two fields relate to one another? GL > They are outputs of the same process, based on creativity. They’re not just linked to each other, but to art, dance and writing. I’m uncomfortable with pigeonhole titles such as musician or artist or designer or writer. As the author, I’m all of these things.

SS > What international or local bands, live acts or albums do you think are beautifully designed both musically and visually? GL > I think South African examples are still in short supply. There’s a difference between contriving an


image as a market reaction to boost sales and the honest route that actually shows something worth looking at. There are bands that have a strong popular image (aKING, Van Coke Kartel, etc.) but I personally find them boring and flat and wanting. The problem is that for music labels the music is about business. They’ve forgotten the music part. Compromise is rarely a good thing. SS > What new and exciting projects are you working on currently? GL > I’m letting the current album, Easy Now, do its thing while preparing material for a new release next year. I have enough music for four full-length albums so I’ve decided to release all four simultaneously, simply because I can. As always, they will exist as a

limited edition and will be extravagantly expensive. Also, I might decide to not do this. SS > What are the challenges in coordinating two careers? GL > My employer, Rex, is not only accommodating but also supportive of my music. We have an understanding whereby we take care of each other. When that balance is in place it’s about being good enough to do both well, not just okay. Okay isn’t worth the time it takes. SS > From where do you draw inspiration? GL > I don’t. I’m never inspired, at least not in the

Givan Lötz | The Bear album cover | On a Quiet Night poster designed by Lotz.



standard understanding of that word. It’s a bad word. Inspiration sounds reactive. It sounds trying. SS > You describe both your design and music work as ‘alternative’. Do you think there is a market for both in South Africa?

project was Sub_UrbanMagazine, which won the 2005 Design Indaba Construction New Media Awards Grand Prix for innovation in new media design. I took some time off at the end of 2004 for travelling and then started a creative agency, pre|set, with one of my mentors, Daniel Siegler. From mid-2007 I went freelance to make more time for my musical projects and worked for personal clients such as Levi’s Strauss; Orange Films; Lark; Capsule Creative & SL Magazine.

GL > In order to be even remotely interested in what I do an audience has to have some predisposition to my approach. I’m happiest expressing exactly what I want. If that resonates with someone, that’s a bonus. If it’s doomed for obscurity, so be it. Basically I’m not trying to please anyone other than myself. I can afford this freedom because I don’t rely on music to make a living.

Recently I have completed the art direction and design for the Fokofpolisiekar: forgive them for they know not what they do documentary by Fly On The Wall but my main focus has been Voice Magazine.

SS > If you could change one aspect of your career(s), what would it be?

Music has always been a passion. I taught myself guitar, playing in a few school bands in 2006 to do something

GL > I wouldn’t change anything. I’m happy with the current course. Change happens by itself. Oh, I want a washing machine.

nigel moore: creative director and editor of voice Magazine and mooredesign, and former frontman of howard roark SS > Describe both your musical and design background: NM > I did a three-year graphic design diploma at the Cape Technikon and graduated in 2001. Afterwards I formed the Sub_Urban Collective with Bryan Little (FlyOnTheWall), Dominique Gawlowski (Griet Artist Management) and Sean Smith (BoyBlack). Our biggest Nigel Moore.

in music a weekly jam session with friends. I eventually landed which resulted in Howard Roark. In 2007 Howard Roark opened for Lark at the Independent Armchair Theatre. After a year we disbanded. I have since relocated to Auckland, New Zealand. SS > Do you think the two fields relate to one another? NM > Graphic design and music are both sensory stimuli, when used together they create a multi-media experience for the audience. SS > Is it your intention for both your music and design work to act as some sort of social commentary? NM > Definitely. I think any artist wants the freedom to communicate messages beyond consuming. Lark was a great experience and opportunity. It was really

exciting to visualise what I thought the music looked like and the process that resulted in the final products. SS > What is the main aim of your work? NM > My aim: to try show people that life is for living. Perspective, experimentation and self-evaluation are powerful tools. You create your own reality simply by imagining it first. SS > Which artists, both locally and internationally, do you think integrate the two disciplines effectively? NM > Wow, well the list is long... the collaboration of Peter Saville and Joy Division; Stanley Donwood & Radiohead; Pearl Jam. The Rolling Stones were one of the first bands to utilise the power of merchandising. I heard a rumour they have made more money out of

Art direction for SL Magazine covers | Poster design for Howard Roark.



their Lips and Tongue design T-shirt than album sales. Michael Jackson had some of my favourite visual packages. Locally – of course Fokofpolisiekar, New Holland has had some great visuals circulating recently. SS > Which bands would you like to collaborate with in future, both in your musical and design capacity? NM > A wish list? Cool...! Design: Billy Talent’s Crystal Castles would be awesome to package. In Auckland there is an amasing indie band called Brain Slaves. SS > Tell us about What is your involvement? NM > Currently I’m the founding editor, art director and designer. Voice Magazine is a collaboration between

mooredesign & MagMagMagazines (a division of Tiger Media Ltd). The result is a progressive platform for the exploration of online communities and networks. Voice Magazine hopes to create an evolving publication, free of guidelines and restrictions of content. A pure VOICE for everyone. We sought what brings us all together, despite our differences of physical locations and local traditions and realised that being human is the answer to this question. I want to feature people from all walks of life, cultures, demographics, job descriptions, religions, physical appearances, etc. to create a journal of human emotions, interpretations, goals and dreams. Something that will break down the walls we have put up between us and our neighbours, both literally and metaphorically.

Fokofolisiekar Encounters Festival poster | CircusNinja identity | LARK Razbliuto! flyer and album cover



SS > Do you think that as with and the abundance of music available freely on the Internet, the future of both industries lies digitally? NM > There is definitely truth in that statement. Digital is catering for our new market driven by instant gratification. This does sadden me but it has to be embraced. Digital paper might replace magazines completely which will have to explored creatively too from a design perspective to utilise this new format.

will hopefully put more money into the artwork solutions if they want to still sell hard copies of published music and media. This will hopefully drive desire to own graphic design as a product and not just a packaging solution and generally undervalued communication tool. SS > What advice do you have for young aspiring designer/musicians? NM > It’s hard, but don’t give up. People often don’t like //slash/eesh// in any form, they are hard to predict but that’s to our advantage. <

I see print becoming a luxury and will gain value in the form of coffee table books and special CD packaging which for me as a designer is just fine. Record companies

Poster for Nigel James Moore solo album | Personal work, Ignorance Is Bliss | Voice The Third



Why should designers blog? By Stratos Bacalis


professional who will centre it on his metier. Is it worth all those hours spent in front of a screen, but instead of designing, say, the perfect chair, writing about designing one?

Should a designer blog then? How can it be possible for people that are so creative in their work, to step aside for a moment (or hours in many cases) and delve into a previously unknown world to them, the one of creative writing? Keeping a blog is no mean deal – if it is serious, that is. It is not merely a personal diary, especially for a

Holly Becker, the well known Decor8 blogger (http://, who is a writer and interior design consultant, seems to think it does. “I think designers should blog because clients enjoy having access to them day and night – they are able to gain insight into your inspirations and ideas 24 hours a day, seven days a week”, she says. ”It also helps them to learn more about your personality and to deepen their relationship with you. They can view links, shops and other things that you highlight so that they can learn more about the

ince blogging started becoming the next big thing, years ago, more and more designers from all walks of the industry have started, phraseby-phrase, paragraph-by-paragraph, post-by-post, becoming seduced by it. Sharing their thoughts, ideas, knowledge about their respective fields, they connect every day with people all over the world with whom otherwise there would be no contact whatsoever.

things that you find as a designer. Interior design should not be some mystery society in my opinion; I enjoy sharing what I find with all who visit my site. I believe everyone should have access to good design!”

Writing also improves the designer’s communication skills, in writing and otherwise, while at the same time providing a nice variety and distraction from a routine workload.

Increased exposure seems to be a major advantage of blogging for a designer. Making him or her stand out amongst colleagues, a designer’s blog helps to reach out to an international audience, reach people from all kinds of professions and fields and makes their ideas and work known in places that they otherwise could never reach, or have to spend a huge amount of money doing so. That of course leads to another bonus: name recognition. Decor8 had 16 readers when it opened, most of them Holly’s clients. Now she has over 25 000 daily readers and one of the most popular design blogs in the world.

The blog also can be a pivotal component of an official website, which is the more traditional means of an online presence. It improves the site content for search engines, gets more indexed pages, provides fresh and updated content frequently and also feeds the Internet with keywords and phrases that lead straight to the designer and his/her work when one looks for it online.

The learning experience is another valuable aspect of blogging. Writing about one’s designs and inspiration leads the designer to further solidify his/her personal style and tastes, find out what he/she likes or dislikes in a more precise way, and have the archive to shift through whenever one feels like it. It also helps the designer become more aware of his/her personal style. The obvious reason to blog, of course, would be networking. Getting in touch with colleagues, possible collaborators and clients from all over the world is a tempting option for the designer/blogger. Richard Haines, illustrator for In Style magazine, J Crew and 5 star-luxury hotels, ( http://designerman-whatisawtoday. wonders why most fashion designers don’t have their own blogs, especially the more famous ones. And having such an immediate and easy way of communicating makes realising projects that much easier. It also provides an easy access between designers and clients, who can comment on their projects without spending time and money on expensive long-distance telephone calls. The instant feedback one gets on your work through a blog is as valuable a tool as any.

Writing about one’s respective field also demonstrates knowledge about it, which of course is another way of promoting oneself. It also provides potential promotion opportunities, as the designers can post their upcoming projects or exhibitions or events and make them known to a wider audience. In combination with social networking sites, this can be a powerful advertising tool with minimum cost. Is it worth then to steal some time from honing one’s talent, perfecting one’s work, to deal with the hassles and travails of blogging? The answer is yes and I am particularly surprised that more designers have not yet caught up with it: they would be pleasantly surprised with the results.

About the author Stratos Bacalis is an interior designer who also studied fashion design and civil engineering. He works for an architectural firm that is based in Thessaloniki, Greece. The company specialises in exhibition design for museums, offices, shops, showrooms and special installations, as well as public spaces. Bacalis’s broad background informs his blogging endeavours which he publishes at amongst others. <






+27 (0)12 346 7788


New boost for Nollywood By Nicky Rehbock


igeria’s film industry, the second largest in

Although still in the early stages of planning, developers

the world after Bollywood, is about to be taken

envision the project to also offer retail and residential

to another level with the building of an ultra-

areas along with the elaborate theme park.

modern film studio and entertainment complex with a Disneyland-style theme park. Because Nollywood – the popular nickname for Nigeria’s film industry – is often criticised for poor production standards and sub-standard acting, the proposed new development aims to shake things up and turn the country into a world-class filming destination.

Abuja ideal location The film village is the dream of AFVI managing director Segun Oyekunle, who lived and worked in Los Angeles, US, for almost 30 years and relishes the idea of a Nigerian Disneyland. “We want to provide state-of-the-art infrastructure for film, music, television, as well as a theme

According to the Abuja Film Village International (AFVI),

park,” he said.

the company in charge of the project, the development plans to provide a place where local and international

The project will be financed by the administration body

filmmakers can flock for pre-production planning, produc-

overseeing Abuja, local developers, as well as Nigerian

tion, post-production and the premiering of their films.

and international investors. formation


AFVI has teamed up with the Landmark Entertainment

In addition, the AFVI plans to run workshops in all

Group, which has overseen a range of impressive

areas of filmmaking before construction of the village

entertainment-based real estate developments across

actually starts.

the world, including theme parks for Universal Studios and design work for many Las Vegas casinos.

Oyekunle says that, “50% of our vision is geared towards improving and developing Nollywood but we

The development will also boast environmental

also aim to provide equipment such as cameras and

friendliness, with part of the village running on solar

editing suites on a rental basis, or even take a stake in

and hydro-electric power. Landmark president Tony Christopher is upbeat about the plans. “A few reasons to put the project here in Abuja [as opposed to Lagos or other locations in Nigeria] would be based on the large land site, the fact that Abuja is a tourist-friendly city, as well as the need to develop the capital into an entertainment

certain projects – this is strictly business you know”. Besides providing film-production and entertainment facilities, AFVI will also produce its own films with the first one called Seeds of Nationhood: The Sokoto Caliphate Story. Before colonisation, Sokoto Caliphate was one of the most powerful Islamic empires in sub-

and cultural destination,” he said.

Saharan Africa.

“In my opinion Nigeria needs to offer more support to

With a mainstream Hollywood production costing as

the creative people making films. They need educa-

much as US$100-million (R811-million) to produce,

tion, more professional facilities, and the infrastructure

Oyekunle says the Abuja village will offer a more

to build the talent pool in the country. This is exactly

cost-effective filming location.

why the Abuja Film Village is being created at this time … it will allow more opportunities for Nigeria to

“We aim to provide a modern alternative and hope they

compete with films internationally.”

will seriously consider producing their films in Abuja

… we want to stop films that are set in Nigeria or

low number of cinemas in Nigeria, films go straight to

elsewhere in Africa – such as Tears of the Sun – being

DVD or video compact disc (VCD) and are snapped up

produced in Hawaii.”

at outdoor markets for $2 (R16) to $3 (R24) a piece.

A multimillion-dollar industry

Traditionally Nigeria’s movie videos are shot on location throughout Nigeria with hotels, homes and offices often being rented out by their owners for

The Nigerian film industry emerged in the late 1970s

filming purposes. The most popular film locations are

amid the country’s crumbling economy. Due to many

currently Lagos, Enugu and Abuja. Most of the movies

financial obstacles, public funding of movies and

are in English, allowing for the widest-possible

original television programming collapsed, and spiralling


crime made cinemas too dangerous to visit. The quick turnaround in making a Nollywood movie European and American shows soon dominated

allows directors and producers to make films with

television, but the absence of an African flavour irked

plotlines that reflect the ever-changing political and

the country’s fledgling filmmakers, who soon began

cultural climate, and often include aspects of current

screening vibrant tribal productions. By the early

events. Storylines revolve around corruption, prosti-

1990s filming on celluloid became too expensive and

tution, folklore, HIV/Aids, romance or slavery and

production shifted to video.

civil wars.

Today, the $250-million (R2-billion) industry produces about 1 500 feature films a year, many shot only in a


week on a shoestring budget of between $17 000 (R138 000 ) and $23 000 (R187 000). Because of the



Support non human rights No access to non-humans By Jennie Fourie

Visiting the District 9 website turns the stomach – not because it’s not a good website – in fact, it’s brilliant. The unease has more to do the reality we knew during the 60s, 70s and 80s in the heyday of apartheid in South Africa. The same reality was revisited last year during the xenophobic attacks in communities throughout the country. It wants to make you cry out: “No, not again!”


huge hype was created for the movie District 9 before its worldwide release in August. Geoff Boucher, blogging for the Los Angeles Times

calls it “the world’s first autobiographical alien apartheid movie”. Co-written and directed by 29-year-old Johannesburgborn Neill Blomkamp, District 9 has been produced by Peter Jackson, Oscar-winning writer and director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Los Angeles Times’ blogger caught up with Jackson in July when he visited Comic-Con International in San Diego to promote District 9. Jackson and Blomkamp “met a couple of years back when Jackson was set to produce the big-screen adaptation of the popular video game Halo, which Blomkamp had been hired to direct; when that project fell apart, Jackson encouraged Blomkamp to make a movie independently and signed on to produce what would become District 9. “Jackson said he knew just from Blomkamp’s short films, one of which inspired District 9, and the commercials he had directed that he possessed a singular talent. “This was a guy who knew how to use a camera, he understood visual effects, he wasn’t scared of science fiction,”…”There was a courageous sense that you could feel. I think that’s one of the things about filmmaking. You’ve got to be brave. You’ve got to take risks and not be too conservative and nervous, and you could sense that in the work that Neill had done.”

Jackson explained his involvement in the film as follows: “Because (Blomkamp) grew up in South Africa, he had witnessed the end of the apartheid era and all the ugliness that came with apartheid and also the difficulties that the country’s gone through since then. That was his life and I thought it was really terrific; often young directors make their first movie based on popular culture. They don’t base it on something that they’ve actually experienced. They base it on something they read or a comic book that they liked or a TV show they liked. But I thought it was really neat that Neill was affected by apartheid to the degree that he felt he had something to say about it through aspects of it being used in a genre film. And so we financed the development of it ourselves.” Jackson continues: “My partner and I just paid for the development of the project out of our own pocket and (Blomkamp) went to South Africa. He shot some test film of his friend Sharlto Copley, who’s not a professional actor as such. He’s an old buddy of Neill’s ... they used to know each other when they were young and Neill wanted Sharlto to be the lead in the film. And he’s actually really, really great. You’ll see that for yourself when you see the film. But we’d never met Sharlto so we sent Neill to South Africa to shoot a little 10-minute test of Sharlto and to shoot some more South African stuff just to sort of inspire the story. And then he came back and we wrote a script with him – or, more precisely, he did the script and we sort of helped him and advised him with the structure and stuff. And then it was all go and we raised the money through QED, an independent finance company. And it all happened quietly and below the radar.”


174 > PRODUCTION DESIGN But back to the District 9 website ( The site opens with a menacing trailer on the arrival of nonhumans, 28 years ago. The site is “hosted” by MultiNational United, a Big Brother agency that aims to protect Humans from Non-Humans with information on non-human sightings, safety tips and clear segregation between the two groups. The website viewer must make the call right upfront: Are you a Human or a Non-Human? If you click on “Human” you can read the text, you are guided through the site and you can get information that will help protect you from Non-Humans. Clicking on the “Non-Human” icon makes you feel…well, non-human.

A clever marketing campaign was launched to promote the movie. It is amazing to read comments on YouTube when clicking on District 9 security alerts or accessing the Multi-National United’s messages. It seems as if people react quite violently – lots of swearing and angst – some commentators thinking its real, other mocking them in return. A non-official trailer was also launched where nonhumans’ features are blocked out. The entire District 9 experience challenges the viewer: What is real and what is not?

Various interactive websites form part of ‘The District 9 Movie Experience’ campaign.

The plot The plot of District 9 is a simple one. About 30 years

work. So far, they have failed; activation of the weaponry

ago aliens visited planet Earth. These aliens were

requires alien DNA.

refugees – the last survivors of their home world. The creatures were set up in a makeshift home in South

The tension between the aliens and the humans

Africa’s District 9 as the world’s nations argued over

comes to a head when an MNU field operative, Wikus

what to do with them.

van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), contracts a mysterious virus that begins changing his DNA. Wikus

Now, patience over the alien situation has run out. Control

quickly becomes the most hunted man in the world,

over the aliens has been contracted out to Multi-

as well as the most valuable – he is the key to

National United (MNU), a private company uninterested

unlocking the secrets of alien technology. Ostracised

in the aliens’ welfare – they will receive tremendous

and friendless, there is only one place left for him to

profits if they can make the aliens’ awesome weaponry

hide: District 9.

Advertising campaign in the United States for District 9. Images © district9pics.



Eerie reality The official movie trailer has an eerie reality about it. At one point a sub-title placed over a non-human states: “We just want to go home”. Now where have we heard those words in the recent past? O, yes. The same words were used by a Zimbabwean refugee in Jo’burg not a week ago. Suffice to say, in the words of the District 9 trailer, “co-existence has never been easy”.

About Neill Blomkamp Neill Blomkamp is a talented young director from Johannesburg South Africa who was first spotted for his work on the transforming robot commercial for Renault. Blomkamp enjoys employing a documentarystyle, hand-held, cinéma vérité technique, blending seamlessly with naturalistic and photo-realistic computer-generated imagery effects.

Promotional material released by Sony Pictures.

Neill also directed a series of three short films set in the Halo universe and was hired to direct the movie adaptation of the series before financial problems forced the project to be indefinitely postponed. In 2008 he won the Cannes Lions – Film Lions – Grand Prix for the HALO “combat” web commercial.

District 9 credits › Directed by: Neill Blomkamp › Written by: Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell roduced by: Peter Jackson and Carolynne › P Cunningham xecutive producers: Ken Kamins, Bill Block. Paul › E Hanson and Elliot Ferwerda › Cast: Sharlto Copley and David James < formation


The Charge from War Horse. National Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand.

AFRICAN puppets takE the world by storm By Estelle Walmsley

A South African company has proved that puppet theatre is not an art of the past, nor is it only for children. Masters of their art, the puppeteers of the Handspring Puppet Company have designed and produced spectacular stage productions during the past two decades that have truly made their local and international audiences think.




he internationally renowned Handspring Puppet Company has been in the forefront of adult puppeteering since 1985. Based in Cape Town, Handspring explores the boundaries of adult puppet theatre within an African context and has taken the magic of real-size puppets to many corners of the globe. Handspring Puppet Company was founded in Cape Town in 1981 by Basil Jones, Adrian Kohler, Jill Joubert and Jon Weinberg. The company’s original focus was the creation of new South African plays for children and for the first five years they toured educational shows to primary schools throughout Southern Africa. In 1986 they moved to Johannesburg and began work in children’s educational television. Between 1990 and 1995 they produced a multimedia science education programme with teacher development outreach. However, Handspring had always felt the challenge of developing an adult audience for the theatre of puppets and began to workshop stage productions for adults. The first step in this unmarked territory was Episodes

of an Easter Rising in 1985, performed in Cape Town, Grahamstown and Johannesburg. They were overwhelmed by the support the production received from adult audiences and the media. Exposure to international theatre for puppets at the 7th international Festival of Puppet Theatre in Charleville-Mezzieres in 1985 increased their resolve to work for adults. Their first international success came in 1991 with the production of Starbrites directed by Barney Simon, which toured to Europe and had a London season. In 1992 they began work with the internationally acclaimed African

Joey with puppeteer, Craig Leo. War Horse. National Theatre, London 2007. Photo by Simon Annand. formation


artist William Kentridge. Their first collaboration, Woyzeck on the Highveld won many awards in South Africa and was highly acclaimed at festivals around the world. Since then, the company has collaborated with Kentridge on several other multimedia productions including Faustus in Africa!, Ubu and the Truth Commission, Zeno at 4 am and Confessions of Zeno.

Puppet design Handspring had many opportunities to work with top South African directors. Each provoked new and unexpected developments in the way they made and worked with puppets. Some of the changes stemmed from the performers’ interaction with the materials and the demands of the performance. For rod manipulators like Handspring, the weight of the puppet was an important criterion. Kohler, the master puppeteer and puppet maker, has spent his life developing simple mechanical devices to maximize the range and power of fingers and hands, partner Jones explains. During the period of the children’s plays this problem was solved largely through the use of polystyrene covered in layers of paper. However, Kohler always found this to be an unsympathetic material. Once Handspring entered into collaboration with Kentridge who is known for his works in the field of animated charcoal drawing, sculpture and printmaking, carved wood appeared to be the most appropriate once again. As a teenage puppeteer, Kohler had grown up

with this medium, but he now used it roughly carved to fit the look of the charcoal drawings that were the backbone of Kentridge’s animated films. Since then, a central design concern has been how to make this weighty material light enough for the puppeteers to hold aloft for the duration of their 90 minute performances. Solid wooden heads are therefore carved to be split in half, and hollowed out, leaving a cranium-like wall about 4mm thick. The bodies themselves are made of lightweight ply. Natural materials such as cane, cotton and silk are also used. If a metal is required, aluminium is the choice. In Tooth and Nail Kohler allowed some of this skeletal structure to be seen by the audience and since then has further developed this style. In The Chimp Project all the puppets, both animal and human had whole-bodied skeletal structures covered with gauze. This resulted in puppets which were fully three-dimensional, lightweight, but whose transparency evoked a lantern-like ghostliness which somehow seemed right for the play. “When designing,” Jones explains “the movements of the puppets and how they will function in the play are taken into consideration and the anatomy of the person or animal to be depicted is closely studied. For instance for The Chimp Project in 2000 we spent ten days studying the movement and anatomy of chimpanzees at Jane Goodall’s Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.” Although manipulators are very visible in their shows, they magically disappear if the puppet movement is completely committed and natural, he says.

TOP LEFT: Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler, co-founders of Handspring Puppet Company. Photo by Simon Annand. TOP RIGHT: Craig Leo with the head of Joey, the lead character in War Horse. Photo by Simon Annand. LEFT: Joey as a foal with puppeteers (LTR) Emily Mytton, Jane Leaney, Tommy Goodrich. War Horse. National Theatre, London 2007. Photo by Simon Annand.



Puppeteer, Luke Treadaway, inside the body of Joey. War Horse. Photo by Simon Annand.

Top UK award With puppets of the caliber that Handspring has produced, it is small wonder that they have received numerous awards over the years – locally and internationally. The highlight must undoubtedly have been the prestigious Evening Standard Theatre Award for the Best Design – one of the four most important theatre awards in the UK – received in London in 2007 for War Horse. The play also won the London Critic’s Circle Theatre Award for Design. In recognition of the award, former Arts and Culture Minister Dr Pallo Jordan praised Handspring for its accomplishment. “Their achievement has not only put this country on the global map but reveals the now obvious fact that South African talent is of world standard, if not above. The winning of the Evening Standard Theatre Award for the Best Design marks a turning point in how indigenous creativity, especially cultural production and export, shall be perceived by the world,” the minister’s statement read. The brilliantly realised stage version of Michael Morpurgo’s novel set in the First World War about a Devonshire farm horse named Joey who is sold to the cavalry and thrown into the carnage of the war was the result of a collaboration between Handspring and top English theatre designer Rae Smith. Jones says working on War Horse was an amazing experience. He describes the process of putting together the puppet element of the show as very intricate and involved. “It took about a year to design a life-size functioning horse,” said Jones. “We had to ensure that the mechanics of the horse were right for the manipulators.

“In the beginning, we made a horse that functioned well, but the ergonomics were not right. After consulting with a physiotherapist, we needed to tweak and revise the mechanisms, as we wanted to ensure that in the long run we wouldn’t have a case of repetitive stress syndrome for the puppeteers.” It took a further 18 months before eight similar horses were created and shipped to England. The show ran at the National Theatre in London until 14 February 2009 and was seen by 220 000 people. It is currently running in the West End and plans are afoot for a touring version of the show with a Broadway opening mooted for 2011, says Jones.

Future Handspring is now in its 28th year and is as creative and productive as ever. Plans for the future include a chamber piece for small audiences. “We do get pushed towards ever larger productions, but we are keen to explore intimate relationships between puppets characters. There is scope for great emotional range when working at this level,” says Jones. The company continues to provide an artistic home and professional base for a core group of performers, designers, theatre artists and technicians who have found an outlet for their creative talents in an age-old art form. Handspring does not often run puppet theatre courses, though two week-long courses for professional puppeteers are being planned for March 2010 in Cape Town to coincide with the Out of the Box puppetry festival. <



186 > ART & CRAFT

“I am an artworker” By Suné Stassen

Louise Gelderblom is not only a creative mind but also has natural business skills or at least a true understanding of what it takes to be successful in the creative industry. She comes from a background of graphic design and marketing, so the idea of her work and herself as a brand has never been a foreign concept. She says that the only time that she draws people in to help is with her website –


188 > ART & CRAFT


ouise Gelderblom is one of Africa’s leading ceramicists. She uses the age-old coiling technique to create spectacular and larger-than-life ceramic artworks with totem proportions. In the process, she has also managed to fuse her professional design background with her passion for ceramics, thereby building an admirable reputation and personal brand. Gelderblom shared some thoughts on the industry as well as her work in an interview with DESIGN >

SS > Being a well established ceramicist, locally and internationally, how do you see the Louise Gelderblom brand? LG > I have a specific brand identity, which is separate from my personality, yet somehow closely connected due to the nature of my work, which has everything to do with self-expression. Louise Gelderblom as a brand is quite out there and fearless. As a person I am a lot more reserved and private. I am best known for my ceramic work, but I also work in a wide range of other creative fields. For instance: I draw, I paint, I write, I work in textiles, I work in product design, in wood, beadwork, food, and then of course, ceramics. Through all these mediums my trademark muted tones, contemplative mark making and organic patterns are evident. It is my hope that those who interact with my work are moved by it and can derive pleasure from the many shapes, rhythms, textures and colours. Who knows, perhaps my meditative energy is passed on to the viewer. That would be good. Then I can start claiming to be a player in the quest-for-world-peace game. SS > I have noticed that you prefer to call yourself an artworker rather than an artist, crafter or ceramicist. Though ceramics is a curious field that is firmly embedded in the arts as a tool for self-expression, as well as in the design industry that is traditionally less about self-expression and more about the contribution made to an environment, while producing a decorative or functional product. Please comment on this. formation

LG > I call myself an ‘artworker’ because I work in the area of the arts. Very few people in this world should be calling themselves artists, and I think the title has been totally bastardised by all and sundry, so I am an artworker. I am not a crafter. I make unique, un-repeatable oneoff things with no utilitarian function other than to be objects to contemplate, inspire and improve your environment. This is a strange category of design to be dabbling in. So, I think, in the broader sense of the word, I am closer to an artist or a sculptor. At this stage, the fact that I use clay is completely coincidental. I also feel quite cynical about the lofty importance of the artist in society. That is why I prefer to call myself an artworker, not an artist. If we all lived mindful lives – emotionally, visually, materialistically, spiritually,

intellectually – the world would probably be a very beautiful place, with no need for additional objects with a purely aesthetic purpose. SS > You recently won the Elle Decoration International Design Awards (EDIDA) for Best Craft Designer South Africa. What meaning does this hold for you? LG > I must admit this award pleasantly surprised me, as I am not the new kid on the block anymore. I have been developing my work for the past 16 years, and it is a wonderful acknowledgement for the time and effort that has gone into making the work that I do. Because South Africa has a rich heritage of craft design that mostly uses low tech techniques, Elle Decoration SA specifically created this category, Best Craft Designer, and I am really honoured to be the first recipient of

this award. This is lovely for an old dog like me, might I add? Then of course there is always the business side of everything. Winning an award of this calibre is usually also good for business. So I can’t complain. SS > Being the mother of two creative youngsters, do you think creative subject choices at school like Visual Art and Design can contribute to the development of a selected and talented few, or do you think the impact can be spread much wider? LG > The problem with Design as a school subject is that so few teachers are trained specifically in this field. I do not think that learners are exposed to enough quality design, in a manner that would lead to constructive discussion and understanding of the design process.


190 > ART & CRAFT So often you see hordes of bored teenagers swamping the Design Indaba Expo, grabbing business cards and other information off the stands to stick into their visual diaries, not engaging with the work at all, and the teachers are having a cappuccino around the corner at the pre-arranged meeting spot from where they will depart in an hour and return back to school. It would be so much greater if the teacher had identified three or four designers, and by prior arrangement with the designers, taken the learners to those stands so that they can really interact and look in more detail at the design process. It has to add educational value. I am afraid teachers must do a whole lot more work before they interact with their learners. And the Department of Education must put a whole lot more into training teachers to make it all happen. I think Design at school can definitely spark an interest in the field and make it more accessible as a career option to learners who would not usually be exposed to it in a conscious way. but I also think that talent is talent, and the passion and interest will manifest itself, irrespective of whether the person did design at school or not. You have to have a certain kind of mind to excel at design and a love for the field. SS > Coming primarily from a design background and moving past self-expression, how do you apply your design knowledge like the basic principles and elements of design? LG > In my ceramic work it is my design background that makes my work not only beautiful, but also workable. It is all about scale, proportion, surface, balance. A well-known designer – can’t remember who though – gave these criteria to measure if something is working: › Does it bring joy? › Is there a sense of wonder? › Does it invoke curiosity? › Could it inspire?

› Is it unusual? › Does it have humour? Does it make me smile?

from my gut. I believe it is the only way to make work that has integrity. Yellow might be the new pink, but it is not going to happen in my work!

I like that. It is an articulate list of things to consider. SS > Do trends play a role and inform the work that you do? LG > I look at trends, and I think I have a very finely tuned sense of future trends, but it does not really inform my work. Having said that, it is interesting how often my work relates to future trends. To me that indicates a prevailing worldview that is global in its reach. I make things that will remain for longer than the lifespan of the average trend, unless of course you place it in the immediate environment of a couple of boisterous puppies and the under 9 soccer team. My work comes

SS > This might be a strange question, but do you deal with clients who commission you based on their appreciation for your style of work? What about the uninformed client who has no understanding of style and simply wants to commission you because they need to get a job done? LG > I do work on a commission basis from time to time. It works when the client loves my work, but needs something that is site-specific. I love working with those people. It doesn’t work when the client starts designing the piece that he/she has always fantasised about. The formation

192 > ART & CRAFT stuff then looks like a weird hybrid of your own work and inevitably the client doesn’t like it. There are people who do that sort of thing – I am not one of them.

missed opportunities, here I am, still alive and happy. Might not have been that necessary after all. SS > Any favourite creators, artists, designers?

SS > What other career fields really tickle your fancy? LG > Walter Meyer, painter; Hylton Nel, ceramicist; LG > Architecture, some aspects of industrial design, garden and landscape design, organic fruit and vegetable farming and I love cooking.

David Goldblatt, photographer; Ry Cooder, musician; Neville Brody, typographer; Ian Mc Ewan, author; J.S. Bach, composer; Sam and Sam Clarke, chefs and authors; k.d. lang, musician; Annie Leibovitz, photographer;

SS > Choose: Mountain, sea or forest? LG > Definitely something to do with the sea SS > If you had all the money in the world, what would you consider to buy first? LG > If I had all the money in the world? World peace! Get rid of my debt. A smallish piece of very fertile land (with a large body of water on it) on which to build my own dwelling. Rural, but not too far from the city. Water purifiers for all of Africa. Food, shelter and education for a vast number of children who really need it. SS > What would be your dream holiday?

Ali Farka Toure, musician; Henri Matisse, painter; Irma Stern, painter; Pablo Picasso, sculptor and ceramicist; Pedro Almodovar, film maker; Issey Miyaki, fibre wizard; Louise Bourgeois, art maker; Tim Winton, author, amongst many more. Does anybody in today’s globally connected world seriously still have one favourite? SS > In closing: You and I know that we will continue to fight for the credibility of most creative fields as a viable career option. No matter how many good examples we can find to counteract others’ opinion, for some reason they will always continue to feel sorry for the ‘creative sods’ who are struggling to make a living. Being creative

LG > Dream holiday? Hmmm, I don’t do holidays very well.

is your bread and butter. What is your take on this?

I have just walked the Transkei coast – that was pretty good. I would love to go to Antarctica before it melts. I also like times when I do as little as possible other than lie on my bed with a fantastic book and my cat nearby. So, if that can count then I have a mini dream holiday almost every day.

tinue to struggle throughout their lives. I have been lucky,

LG > Some people, who do truly wonderful work, conI suppose. In a way I think it has to do with being in the right place at the right time with the right price and the right people to see your work. I believe there is a very fine balance between under- and over-pricing one’s work and creative output. After all, this indicates how you value your own work. And shallow as this may seem, success

SS > Any bargain opportunities you have missed and still think about today?

is often missed or gained through the finish, presentation and marketing of the work. <

LG > Well there have been properties and artwork and books and specials in Clarins. But despite all those formation

All images courtesy of Louise Gelderblom.

194 > ART & CRAFT

CEDARTE > managing a creative industry in Mozambique By Melanie Harteveld Becker


EDARTE – Centro de Estudos e Desenvolvimento de Artesano – was established in 2006 in Maputo, Mozambique as a result of the Aid to Artisans project that was already running for seven years previously. Aid to Artisans has its roots in an American initiative with a healthy international infrastructure and marketing department that brings the knowledge from market research back to the producers. They use craft product marketing strategies and supply chains that adhere strictly to market needs when it comes to product design, shapes and colours in order to get desirable products produced. Established as an NPO/NGO and with the aim to take the spirit and beauty of Mozambican crafts to an international audience, CEDARTE promotes a healthy and competitive business environment within the craft sector. They do this by implementing sustainable marketing actions, developing and products and initiating training, advocacy and knowledge management, increasing the income of Mozambican artisans and their communities. The primary vision of CEDARTE is to see itself as the main reference centre in Mozambique when it comes to the dissemination and distribution of knowledge in the development and promotion of national crafts. CEDARTE serves the Mozambican craft sector, including all the players of the sector in the value chain. Their

strategic plan includes five programmes: Training and capacity building of entrepreneurs, marketing, communication and networking within the sector, establishing market access, sustainable use of resources and the programme for development, innovation and product design. The most significant strength of CEDARTE is that it is a local organisation that works for the benefit of the local artisans in Mozambique. CEDARTE is an organisation that hosts local knowledge, it understands the local culture, it builds good networks and through previous connections to Aid to Artisans, it continues to benefit the local craft sector in Mozambique. CEDARTE has a wellestablished background, ample previous experience and a management team who is passionate about serving the craft industry in Mozambique. The organisation continues to fight for change and to alleviate poverty via the sustainable management of the Mozambican craft sector. This organisation is well aware of the reality of the crafters – how hard they work and how marginalised they really are. The reality of weather conditions and seasonal flooding Mozambique, the circumstances in which craft-producing families have to work and survive, transport and infrastructural challenges and difficulties in sourcing of raw materials have a real impact on the survival of sustainable craft production. Therefore, CEDARTE works effortlessly to

LTR: Wooden flask, Artes Wache | Cylinder vesseL, Artes Mabanda | Vessel with lid, Artes Mambo | Alien heads, Artes Wache | Wooden bowl, Artes Wache | Wooden bead necklace, Artes Mambo


196 > ART & CRAFT give recognition to the craft sector and the people working in this sector.

purpose. Complying with the original plans means that the organisation is well-managed and stable.”

CEDARTE brings design leadership to Mozambique’s creative economy. The organisation enthusiastically and pro-actively leads in the Mozambican design domain. Guided by its vision to communicate, collaborate and convey the meaning of design by finding creative solutions and innovation for existing needs, it aims to set a clear management direction to obtain a sustainable future for Mozambican crafts. The four pillars of CEDARTE’s management structure are capacity building, design, innovation and product development, market access and institutional development.

On the design management front CEDARTE clearly sets directions for product-sizing, colour combinations, finish and quality. Other design management tools used are branding design, as well as the development of well-coordinated product families or product lines. “For CEDARTE design is crucial in all areas. First design is used to design a project; to think it through and plan it properly. Then the products need to be designed, the processes of manufacturing, marketing and sales should be designed. Design should always be there and how people see CEDARTE is intrinsically linked to design. International and SADC designers were brought in to assist the local projects with product development, because Mozambique doesn’t have designers. Now CEDARTE uses young people who have natural design skills and we bring in designers to train young Mozambican designers. We even invest in design contest to try and find new and talented designers in Mozambique. We also offer small internships for young designers and we occupy them in craft projects all over Mozambique, thus investing in social design aspects,” says Lino.

Management is one of the most valuable development tools CEDARTE employs. Says Ms Chila Lino, marketing director of CEDARTE: “Management is the key issue for CEDARTE. We do not implement without management. CEDARTE is a hybrid organisation that should remain adaptable and flexible now, as well as in the future. We work for profitability so that this sector can survive – and management functions can do exactly that. Also, CEDARTE is still dependant on funding and to keep donors content in order to continue funding, the organisation needs to be well-managed, adhere to good governance and transparency and funding needs to be well-applied and utilised for its intended

On the marketing front CEDARTE started by building the capacity of Mozambican craft exporters, but they failed to become well-established due to the lack of

business attractiveness and lack of marketing viability of this sector. The main beneficiaries of CEDARTE remain the craft producers and one of the strategies CEDARTE employs is to support local and foreign buyers on buyers’ visits. The primary aim of this strategy is to increase sales – the buyers are accompanied to see more of the local craft production. At the same time CEDARTE has the opportunity to show more of the product ranges that are showcased in the trade fairs. CEDARTE follows the strategy of building relationships between the local producers and international buyers. The approach they follow is not to create sympathy for the producers, but to clarify the reality of the producers to the buyers when it comes to issues such as certification and obtaining of permits for raw materials and craft exports. In this way a common understanding of marketing issues is created. CEDARTE educates the producers, but they also educate the buyers. The buyers realise the true value of how difficult manufacturing is in the local context. Most importantly, the buyers understand the distinctive personality and uniqueness of the crafts. CEDARTE also involves designers and buyers in common product development workshops. “Before one embarks on product development, one should know to work from the market research and information collected

backwards to the producer, since this process is very valid for the African producers. The idea is not to forget traditions, but to adapt products so that they are market ready,” says Lino. CEDARTE acknowledges that identity issues and cultural preservation in craft production is a tricky topic. Identity issues are always like a two-sided coin. On the one side one has to ensure income generation through product sales and on the other side one has to be sensitive towards preserving cultural identities. The organisation follows various approaches to tackle this issue. One way is to find the right markets for traditional products (design, manufacturing and materials should be traditional) that can be sold as they are. Another way is to use the raw materials that can be perceived as the identity of the country of origin and to develop and create contemporary products from these indigenous raw materials. A good example is the contemporary products CEDARTE manufactures from the Mozambican hard woods such as sandal and black wood. From CEDARTE’s experience these products usually have a very fast market entrance. A third way is to gradually include traditional symbols or unique product signatures as the products emerge in new markets. Lino says: “Craft development organisations should look out for locally produced products that can

LTR: The African tool box | Raw materials | Bead making at Artes Mambo


198 > ART & CRAFT be easily tweaked into contemporary market goods. The identities of crafts people and their products evolve and there are artisans who wish to adapt due to profit reasons. Craft support organisations should support the craft industry by looking out for products that need minimal change and give artisans the knowledge to adapt these products for new markets. Standardise product lines, standardise sizes and introduce the concept of product families for purposes of better product display in order to realise better marketing tools.” The fourth way is to make small adaptations to traditional products and with little input streamline them for the market by inserting various contemporary elements. CEDARTE introduced me to three artisan groups headed by Amândio from Artes Mambo, Sérgio from Artes

Wache and José Rodrigues Fumo (Mabanda) from Artes Mabanda respectively, who all are manufacturing products from the Mozambican hard woods. Products varied from wooden beads, jewellery, wooden bowls, vessels and miniatures with an excellent product finish. Other products had a unique hand-carved feeling, mainly vases, unique rough wooden beads, a large variety of alien-head statues, wooden bowls and bottle-style vases, cylinder containers and other vessels where the natural beauty of the wood is kept untouched in combination with carved and smoothened wood surfaces, all with an excellent finish. Hand carving, turning and inlay techniques are commonly used. The artisan groups vary in size from four to 12 people and some of the projects have been running for more than 12 years. <

LTR: Artisan from the Mabanda project | Detail of a lamp shade by Artes Mambo | Studio at Artes Wache.

Mined over matter By Jacques Lange

Artist Jeannette Unite has spent a decade researching and exploring Africa’s industrial, geographical and geological history through mining sites to establish how colonialism and globalisation impacts on how we occupy our landscape. She believes that “mining plays a central role in contemporary African cultural identity and although it is a source of servitude, mineral resource extraction is also about tremendous wealth and value”. This loaded historical social inheritance underpins the abstract formal explorations of the industrial theme in Unite’s drawings, paintings, sculptures and glass panels. She has developed a body of work that interprets the mining industry as a partnership between culture and industry, rather than the usual concern with more prosaic references and associations.


200 >


eannette Unite’s current exhibition titled: Headgear, displays a series of massive surface engineering drawings of winding shaft equipment. The exhibition forms part of a body of work titled Terra, which consist of paintings, drawings and glass pieces inspired by images of shaft head frames from the 45 kilometres of archival records at the Old Gaol in Cape Town and Museum Africa in Johannesburg. For this body of work, Unite sourced old mining images, illustrations, documents and photographs that offer insight into the ecological, economical, geological, historical, social and technological impact of the mining industry. Christopher Till, curator of the Gold of Africa Museum, recognised the synergy of culture and industry embodied in Unite’s work and selected pieces from her Terra collection to feature in the inaugural exhibition of the new Gold of Africa Museum Gallery in Johannesburg. The gallery is located at the recently redeveloped Turbine Hall Square, which is now also home to the AngloGold Ashanti Headquarters. The exhibition and the venue create a perfectly orchestrated synergy with the curator’s long-time vision for the urban rejuvenation of central Johannesburg. Till, regarded as one of most influential individuals in the African art world, had a vision for the redevelopment

of the Newtown precinct in the 1990s while he was director of the Johannesburg Biennale’s. His vision resulted in the preservation of the architectural heritage in the heart of the City of Johannesburg. Turbine Hall would have been demolished had it not been for Till’s cultural sensitivity and, therefore, his legacy is celebrated by Unite’s exhibition. Unite inadvertently captures pride and power in her abstracted massive drawings of dancing sculptural engineered structures of mine shaft winding gear. “These headgears defined the Johannesburg landscape along with the mine dumps that are being re-processed for gold. There is nostalgia for this vanishing landscape that has shaped the cultural and social heritage of the cityscape,” she says. Unite explains that her research into the industrial landscape have taken her on many journeys which informed the creation of Terra: “I travelled from Johannesburg’s gold mines, Kimberley’s diamond mines, platinum, copper and magnesium mines all over South Africa; iron ore mines in the Kalahari as well as Namaqualand’s Simon van der Stel mine – the oldest colonial copper mine in the country, established in 1670s – as well as a plethora of harbours and construction sites.”

6 Meters Under Mining Headgear.

202 > ART & CRAFT Unite not only documents the landscapes for creative inspiration on these journeys, but she also collects the source materials and raw pigments which she uses to manufacture her own media and material. She says that artists have always been resourceful and inventive and the Renaissance notion of a marriage between science and art which finds a contemporary manifestation in her work. Her artist’s materials include waste with traces of metals that colour the glass for her kiln-fired panels, the pastels for her drawings, and the site-specific sand for her paintings.

Archival images of headgear serves as Unite’s inspiration.

What is above is below.

Earth crust glass wall.


Her work has an ecological edge that combines technology and engineering, geology and geography and conceptual alchemy. “Mine dump waste and industrial waste contains enough metals to yield startling colour,” she says. The kiln-worked glass that she produces is dependent on industrial and technical input with the innovative way in which she works with found site-specific materials. Unite’s mining-focused art originated with her Earthscars project which was a shock response inspired by the 40-year old prospecting pits on the Alluvial diamond diggings on paleaolithic West Coast beach deposits in South Africa. She was also inspired by Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, who said, “Whatever happens to the earth we should take personally”. Unite felt compelled to photo document and internally process this ‘ravaged landscape’ that she identifies so deeply with and the corpus of her work on the industrial landscape which has subsequently progressed to her exploring rehabilitation plants and man’s environmental relationships with the land. She was also inspired by the works of internationally known artists who work with heavy industrial imagery such as photographers Edward Buchinsky’s ‘manufactured’ or ‘residual landscapes’, Harald Finster’s recording of industrial places and the Becher’s typologies. Unite’s drawings are as large as construction boards and require her climbing up and down ladders and scaffolding while executing the works. These monumental drawings mirror the impressive scale and celebrate the heavy industries. She says that “I allow

Unite’s arts and culture pyramids.

my sensualist appetite for abstraction to be impressed with the uniqueness of each engineers design”.

similar manner as the subject matter that she features – the mining industry which creates value and wealth from the earth.

Describing her work, Unite says “Blast furnaces, harbour cranes, electric pylons and headgears dance and stagger across cotton fibre paper in etching, charcoal and my own artist-made pastels that incorporate gold mine dust, metal oxides and mine dump tailings”. She continues: “A need for ordering my world into a perceived ‘gridlike window’ has led me to work in polyptich series and sequences which creates another ‘reality’ that is systemised, categorised and developed into a visual language code. I call these multiple sequenced artworks ‘sentences’.”

Unite also finds the concept of patronage particularly fascinating. She says: “Throughout history, patronage has been key to artists’ innovating unique ways of seeing. The Renaissance saw the emergence of a sea-faring Italian trading class, and merchants became ‘the new money’ that needed new artworks and new buildings with a unique identity that defined and validated the new wealthy class. African corporate entrepreneurs are intrinsic to the development and support of a unique aesthetic that defines our position.” In this regard, Unite’s interest in the mining industry, which has Other topics that that currently interest Unite are the shaped the new wealth of the ‘black diamonds’, has concepts of innovation, value and the economics of led to patronage from this sector. art. She believes that artists create indispensable intellectual property and art is one of the few invest- Unite believes that South Africans suffer from low selfesteem, partially a result of the geographic distance ments that continuously increase in value. from Europe and America and their continental isolaShe says “the artist’s challenge is to put a price on the tion and a reluctance to focus on the things that they value for the unique ideas manifested”. To illustrate do really well. She says: “Mining is peppered with its her thinking, she draws a diagram of what she describes contentious and uncomfortable early history, legislated as ‘the arts and culture pyramid’. She says that the racial and social inequalities. But it is an area in which perceived value is defined by the uniqueness and we excel – South Africans mine deeper and are extremely signature and this determines value of the intellectual innovative.” Her instinct is that “if we can celebrate property. This ‘signature’ creates the distinction between what we are good at and endorse mining which is the art and craft. The more original and innovative a work backbone of our social economy, then we could is, the more value it has, and in turn the more status improve our cultural perception of ourselves”. it has. In her own work, Unite intentionally beneficiates the value and uniqueness aspects through her choice Unite ultimately seeks to answer one question: Could of media – the source materials and raw pigments this cultural validation take shape through an artist’s that she collects from site-specific mine dumps. She vision? < therefore utilises the process of beneficiation in a formation

204 > ART & CRAFT

Dystopia Art often serves an observational, analytical and interpretational purpose. Both art’s mimetic function and its imaginative aspect provide powerful means by which any society can introspect, investigate and visualise itself as a capsule of the socio-cultural and political status quo.


ithin the geographical boundaries of Southern Africa, Dystopia , curated by Elfriede Dreyer, explores the relationship of contemporary art production to society and ideology, and aims to unmask articulations of dystopia within this cultural framework. A main curatorial intention with the exhibition is to express the view that the dystopian artworks included in this exhibition and the cultural criticism articulated therein seem to have responded to an air of crisis that has been pervading contemporary thinking for several decades now.

and places where the impact of the ideological blueprint of globalisation has created diasporic cultures and nomad identities; about unjust utopian political ideas that create social restriction, impaired mobility, repression or oppression; or about postutopian space and loss of religious belief and directions. It might recount posthuman conditions as a result of the dominating influence of the technological utopianism, evident in dysfunctional cyberrelationships and telematic influences leading to rampant violence, threat to self, insensitivity and indifference to critical socio-cultural problems.

In principle, dystopian texts express world views that postulate end-of-utopia, utopia-gonewrong and even anti-utopia, and entail responses to and a critique of utopia. In the dystopian genre, the imagination is tweaked as a critical instrument set on deconstructing existing or potential ills, injustices and hypocrisies in society, mainly brought on by utopia ideologies and legacies. In dystopian texts, whether real or fictive; visual or literary, stories are told about, for instance, societies

Broadly speaking, Dystopia deals with the following themes: political utopia-gone-wrong; teleology and apocalypse; dystopian contestations of gender, race and culture; spatiality and boundaries as postideological zones; and the postindustrial city; and technodystopia. The artworks that have been selected for the exhibition function as palimpsests where dystopian maps are superimposed over utopian maps of paradise and hell, but also where dystopian constructs have been

SECTION > 205 RIGHT: Frikkie Eksteen, Terminal host, 1918 - 2008. Oil on canvas, 1000 x 800 mm Courtesy of the artist.

BELOW: Guy du Toit & Iaan Bekker, Caltrops, 2008. Bronze,approx 130 x 150 mm each. Courtesy of the artists.

absorbed, negated and transcended in order to generate a kind of utopian synthesis anew. A significant metatext in the conceptual architecture of the exhibition is the role and use of various kinds of technologies from low-tech to high-tech digital tools in the production of the artworks in order to come closer to an understanding of the way in which culture produces itself and attributes meaning to that self-production. The appropriated technologies reflect social processes, histories and conditions in South Africa and as such provide a kind barometer for socio-cultural conditions in, for instance, rural village settings, inner city diasporic communities and consumer environments. The exhibition consists of a combination of recently and newly produced work of South African artists, both emerging and internationally acclaimed, as well as selected artworks from the University of South Africa’s art collection. Artists include Zanele Muholi, William

Kentridge, Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky, Thando Mama, Pascual Tarazona, Moshekwa Langa, Lawrence Lemaoana, Kudzanai Chiurai, Johan Thom, Jan van der Merwe, Frikkie Eksteen Christiaan Hattingh as well as Guy du Toit and Iaan Bekker. A comprehensive catalogue accompanies the exhibition and there will be outreach and educational activities in the form of walkabouts, lectures and workshops surrounding the exhibition. The exhibition can be viewed in Pretoria from May 23 to June 30 2009 at the Unisa Art Gallery and in Johannesburg from October 8 to November 15 2009 at the Museum of Africa. It can also be viewed in Mangaung from June 10 – August 8, 2010 at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum and in Ghent from October 17 – November 21 2010 at the Jan Colle Galerij. Dystopia is primarily funded by the National Research Foundation of South Africa under the Key International Science Capacity (KISC) Initiative. <


206 > ART & CRAFT

Johan Thom, Vox populi/Vox dei, 2008 – 2009. Action, photography & found objects. Dimensions variable (approx 1500 x 1500 x 250 mm). Photographic credit: Hans Wilschut. Courtesy of the artist.

Jan van der Merwe, Time out, 2009. Found objects (rusted metal, paper, charcoal). Installation of approx 3000 x 3000 mm Courtesy of the artist.

William Kentridge, Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky, History of art, 2005. Drypoint & aquatint on HahnemĂźhle natural white 300gsm, 685 x 972 mm. Edition of 40. Unisa Art Collection.

Moshekwa Langa, Untitled V, 2004. Mixed media on paper. 1400 x 1000 mm. Unisa Art Collection.

Lawrence Lemaoana, Players of colour, 2006. Textile. 800 x 1600 mm Unisa Art Collection.

Kudzanai Chiurai, The revolution will be televised, 2004. Mixed media on canvas. 1200 x 1000 mm. Courtesy of Fried Contemporary Art Gallery & Studio.

Thando Mama, The revolution is ‌, 2007. DVD video installations running time variable, 1min to 7mins. Courtesy of the artist.

Zanele Muholi, Sheila Plaatjie, Johannesburg from Faces and phases, Siyafana, 2008. Fibre based photographic print, 865 x 605 mm. Edition of 8 + 2AP. Courtesy of Michael Stevenson Gallery. formation


The queen of felt By Suné Stassen


he Ronel JordaanTM label is a homegrown African success story. And it all started in her garage in 2005 when Jordaan explored the possibilities of using felt as her creative medium of choice. As a field unknown to most, Jordaan had to follow her creative instincts and says that she had to teach herself everything she knows. Today she has perfected the felting process only using the highest quality of wool.

Before you can ask her about the men she excitedly tells you about another small group of male crafters in Sebokeng, just outside Johannesburg, who are supplying her company with sculptural wireworks that will eventually be used as the internal support for extravagant and exotic felted lamps. Felt sheeting are also supplied by a self-help co-op of ladies from the Western Cape.

Placing job creation at the forefront of her new company she soon trained a handful of women to help her. Today this business has grown into a stronghold of 40 previously unemployed women between the ages of 19 and 40 who are master felters of international standards. Jordaan has also trained women at the Wes-Randse Christelike Gemeenskap feeding scheme in Johannesburg to knit specifically for the Ronel JordaanTM label.

SS > Since 2005 your brand has certainly grown into a ‘design-hold’ name and your business has become a very credible role player within the industries of surface, product, homeware and environmental design. To top that, you are not only a role model for young and aspiring designers but also seen by some as the ‘queen of felt’. Tell us more about your humble beginnings and successes.

FAR LEFT: Ronel Jordaan has designed individual shapes that her felters replicate. These include leaves, petals, rocks, webbed shawls and throws which she later snips, cuts, shapes and sews together. TOP LEFT: Ronel Jordaan. LEFT: Jordaan is best known for her felted rock ottomans and cushions.

RJ > Well, I’m not exactly comfortable with the ‘queen of felt’. I am just really lucky to be working in a medium that has infinite possibilities. I started my felting business from my home, working in the garage as well as outside. What inspired me most were the endless possibilities I could see in the medium itself, the ability to create employment, training others and at the same time creating interesting products. Since then we have been able to employ quite a substantial number of people and work with a variety of craft groups who can supply us with other materials and products. Currently our product is also part of a group exhibition at the MOMA in Lausanne (Lucerne) Switzerland of which I am very proud. SS > Looking at your own successes, what positive contributions and impact do you think justify that the creative industries should be acknowledged as a major role player within a prosperous economy?

RJ > With creatives constantly producing and creating new and interesting products, they are not only creating employment, but they also investigate a variety of industries for solutions without having access to a vast amount of finances. At the same time they also investigate and explore other possibilities that are usually not common practice in that specific industry. I believe that without creativity or creative thought there can only be little or no growth in any economy. It will simply stagnate and never reach its real potential. SS > We know technology is here to stay and because of it the masses have more access to mass-produced products. Why do you think people still strive for handcarded and crafted products if they can buy much cheaper imitated versions somewhere else? RJ > You know, hand-crafted products will always have soul. When you buy any handmade object you formation


are certain to have a little piece of that creator’s soul in your presence. Those who value handmade objects are usually also the ones who are eager to know more about the creator and they value the skill and passion that went into its creation. On the flip side of the coin you are also adding value to the life of the crafter or creator by purchasing one of their handmade products, instead of a mass-produced item. Within the context of this year’s Design Indaba, South Africa’s international stage for showcasing top local products, it was interesting to see that local and international buyers did not seem to be faced by the current and global economic crisis – which is great for us. SS > To date you have received many accolades and your products have been featured in many internationally acclaimed publications and exhibitions. One of your products has also been nominated as

one of the finalists at the 2009 Design Indaba for the award of the ‘Most beautiful object’ in South Africa. Can you share a few of these highlights? RJ > I feel very privileged to have had our products selected for the “Most beautiful object” three years in a row. There are so many beautiful products that add value to other people’s lives – Tsai’s nested bunk bed to mention one. We feel very grateful that our products have been part of this exclusive selection. Of course, to have your products awarded is a very important marketing tool. It has also given me the opportunity to work with other designers and learn from their experiences and skills. SS > What inspires you and how do you go about finding that next great WOW idea?

FAR RIGHT: Ronel Jordaan with her team of crafters. RIGHT: Clouds and rocks room, an exhibit featuring Ronel Jordaan’s work that forms part of the Nature in a kit exhibition which runs from 24 June to 27 September 2009 at the Museum of Design and Contemporary Applied Arts, Lausanne, Switzerland.

RJ > Nature is still my inspiration. Other designers and the women who I work with are constant sources for inspiration. We never design in a vacuum. As social beings it is also important to be aware of the things like the economy, trends and our carbon footprint. This can all contribute greatly to the aesthetics of a new product. A negative economy is depressing and we need to sharpen our state of awareness. Designing is never a selfish act. You primarily design for others. I, therefore, belief that it is important to design products that are affordable, eco-friendly, inspiring, uplifting and affect people’s lives in a positive way. It better be WOW! SS > Can you describe the felting process? RJ > The idea is to have the minute follicles on individual strands of fibre to interlock so that you are left

with a matted and dense texture. This you can only achieve while continuously rubbing the wool fibres. Of course, with technology the process has been mechanised so that huge sheets of felt can be produced. Still, hand-felting that is a far more time-consuming process which remains the more popular and preferred choice for production. The raw product (wool) arrives at our workshop from Port Elizabeth in large bales. Strands of wool are then carded and dyed in dyeing baths. Once it is dry we card it again and only after this second stage of carding is it ready to be felted. We then lay down the finest strands on a flat surface. The next step would be to open the follicles and for this we need to rub soap over the fibres. As I have explained before, we only use biodegradable soap.



Layering and rubbing more and more fibres while adding hot water shrinks the wool which forces the follicles to cling together. At this stage we are free to add strands of different colours which will result in a marblised effect as well as adding other fibres like cotton or silk to add more colour or texture. Then follow many hours of testing, evaluating, redesigning and remaking. Some products never see the market place because the quality was never great to begin with. Other times you may sit with a stunning concept or product but the practicality of the production process might be a problem. SS > In your opinion, do you think South Africa has the correct ingredients to be a global player in different fields of design? RJ > We must never forget that we have designers of international standard in different fields. Finances, in my opinion, are the greatest stumbling block. Developing new designs is the greatest obstacle

especially in the craft field. Trying to get big industries to invest in our design ideas is close to impossible. Suppliers who sell raw materials will only supply you if you order large quantities, which during the development stages of a new product is simply not feasible. Generally, finding companies that will give us some of their precious time to listen to our concepts is a pain in the neck and mostly a shame. SS > We are forever bombarded with the differences of first world, developing and third world countries. Do you think design has a role to play in different communities? RJ > Yes, yes, yes! The bigger the divide between the rich and the poor the more we need to invest in crafts and create a stronger industry that can very successfully bridge between different social groups and, at the same time, value the importance of the inheritance of crafts. Here designers have a vital role to play in making crafts more accessible to the first world, for example the work of the designer Hella Jongerius is doing exactly that.

Featured here is small selection of the vast product range offered by Ronel JordaanTM.

SS > Do you think elegant design has a place in the global economy?

roof of our workplace in downtown Johannesburg. The vegetables can then be taken home or sold by the women. Simply a win-win situation!

RJ > Elegance is a virtue. SS > Designers are often referred to as problem solvers for a world full of problems, people who should show a responsibility towards the environment and social development. What is your take on this and what contributions are you making as a responsible designer? RJ > I believe designers are part of the problem and the solution. Many designers design for fame and not for the sake of solutions. Yes, it’s a business that generates income, but if one out of every ten designers can just design with a solution for global warming, with environmental improvement and social development, then we can all gain. Since its very early days our carbon footprint played an integral role of this business. Because of hand-carding and hand-felting you can say that we are classified as a very low-tech business. We use biodegradable soap made in South Africa for handfelting. Our grey water is recycled to water small organic food gardens that grow in containers on the

Our dyes, though imported from Germany, were specifically selected because it meets the European Eco-Standards and are lead-free. As for animal rights and awareness, we only use the wool from South African farmers, as unlike the Australians, they do not practice mule-sing and tail docking. I also recycle some of our wool scraps into new products and use recycled commercial felt seals for industry used in carpets and planters. We also have a great social impact through employing and using other groups to knit and produce other products like wire frames for us. <

All images courtesy of Ronel JordaanTM.


214 > FASHION 1999 – 2001 >

2002 >

The South African Fashion Week legacy 2003 >

2004 >

< 2005

< 2006

South African Fashion Week (SSAFW) was launched 12 years ago as an independent platform to showcase South African fashion design. In this article, Lucilla Booyzen, founder and director of SSAFW provides an insider’s account of how Africa’s most influential fashion design event became foremost on fashionistas’ agenda and shares some thoughts on where this programme is heading. < 2007

< 2008



Clive Rundle, 2007

Bongiwe Walaza, 2007

Craig Native, 2007

Craig Native, 2007

Lunar, 2007

Lunar, 2007

Black Coffee, 2007

Amanda Laird Cherry, 2007

Ephymol, 2007

Ephymol, 2007

Julian, 2008

KLUK, 2008


t all began during a visit to the British, French and Italian Fashion Weeks in 1984, when I was struck by the realisation that the fashion industries of these major centres were driven solely by creative designer input. At that time, apart from political isolation, one of the overriding challenges for the South African designer with an eye on the international circuit was not design skill but the ability to deliver quality and quantity. International markets demand big orders, and back in 1984 that forced South African designers onto the sideline. Thank goodness for change! By the end of the1980s, the tide had begun to turn for fashion too. Niche markets began to emerge. In South Africa, group fashion-consciousness took a back seat, and an exciting new consumer emerged – a consumer who demanded the right to individual expression. As an established fashion producer, and through frequent exposure to European Fashion Weeks, I concluded that if South African designers were to develop an identity that reflects the country, they needed to show their collections jointly on an open platform that, despite a relatively strong creative design force, did not exist in South Africa. However, designers were not representative of the people of South Africa. Their collections were insular, aimed mainly at a dedicated client base. An open forum was required, where designers could meet and network with all the other players – clients, buyers, consumers and celebrities, not to mention the media, in the important game of fashion. Before the move into the international arena, designers had to be built and nurtured on the national level, without excluding key markets throughout the rest of Africa. By the early 1990s, the impulse to start a South African Fashion Week had become irresistible, and urgent. With the country experiencing a political transformation, this was the right time to motivate the South African fashion design industry to change face. The

first South African Fashion Week took place in a tent on Nelson Mandela Square, Sandton in August 1997. This venue was chosen because of its shopping centre environment, making it easier for the consumer to become familiar and identify with the new concept of locally designed clothes. In the first year only established designers were featured, many of them unknown to each other, the fashion consumer or, more importantly, the media. Where the first South African Fashion Week was an opportunity to exchange ideas and create an awareness of fashion, the second event in 1998 saw the first New Talent Show and gave young designers – Jacques van der Watt, Terence Bray and Yac Kimme, for example – a chance to enter the mainstream South African fashion arena. 1999 saw the first Black designers on the ramps – Bonga Bengu, Buyani Khoza, Colleen Dubane, Hayley Rasool, Scele Ntshalintshali and Thabani Mavundla. That year, labels such as Maya Prass, and Sam Bulgin also formed part of the New Talent Competition. In 2000, South African Fashion Week moved to the Sandton Convention Centre – a larger and more spacious environment which allowed the construction of two auditoriums to show the collections of 19 designers, amongst them first-timers Craig Native and Sonja Niewoudt, one of the stars of the New Talent Competition 2000, partnered with Thabani Mavundla (they were to become the design force behind the label Stoned Cherrie). The Millennium also marked the launch of the South African Fashion Week Exhibition. Although small and not very successful, it was a start and a base to build on. For designers not necessarily associated with runway collections, it was important to have a sales outlet for their creations. Stoned Cherrie showed for the first time during South African Fashion Week 2001 and again the year after. 2002 featured 21 Black designer labels – of which 18 were empowered by the Department of Trade and formation


Earthquake, 2008

Tando Zamxaka, 2008

Thunderstorm by Thabo

Narain Samy, 2008

Irmgard Mkhabela, 2008

Lebo Mash, 2008

Tiaan Nagel, 2008

Two, 2008

Lebo Mash, 2009

Stoned Cherry, 2009

Stoned Cherry, 2009

Abegail Betz, 2009

Industry (thedti). They included Sun Goddess, Darkie, Bongiwe Walaza, Ephymol, Life, Loxion Kulcha, Issues and Thulare Monareng. South African Fashion Week not only grew the designers; it also attracted new clients, boosted consumer awareness, and awakened the interest of national and international media. In 2003, David Tlale won the Elle New Talent Competition. By now, the event was growing at an astounding rate: South African Fashion Week not only showed 50 collections of which 29 were by black designers; it also launched the South African Fashion Week and Arts and Culture Fashion Seminar, the first of its kind in Africa – a knowledge transfer programme that focused on business and production practice during the morning sessions and hands on creative design sessions in the afternoons. The seminar now includes the history and theory of fashion design. At this time, I recognised that, apart from our talented contemporary designers, we had an untapped reservoir of traditional crafting skill. Having become marginalised from the mainstream design community, it was producing parity products for the conventional curio market. The idea of bringing this handwork resource into the modern design process meant that we could give our crafters – many from impoverished rural areas – a new relevance, both creatively and financially. Our local designers also became alive to the possibility of differentiating their offering by tapping into our unique heritage in a way that was acceptable to modern tastes. The idea of matching our creative past with our contemporary design environment to the benefit of both was immediately shared by the Department of Arts and Culture. And so the South African Fashion Week and Arts and Culture Fashion Fusion Project were introduced in 2004. It brought together 10 craft designers and 10 fashion designers to develop craftenriched garments. Adding highly skilled craft to the process of fashion design was something that I had

wanted to do since staging the first South African Fashion Week. By 2005, this fusion had become so successful that a similar programme was introduced in four provinces, which had risen to nine by 2006 to make it the world’s biggest fusion programme – 225 crafters (25 from each of nine provinces) and 27 designers. On each occasion, three designers worked side-by-side with up to 25 crafters. After the creation of the prototypes, orders were placed for the manufacture of the most innovative designs. Nine designers with their own shops agreed to carry items from this collaboration for the period of one year. The vision of South African Fashion Week is to nurture an appreciation for local fashion in the minds of the South African consumer. It has strengthened international interest in South African fashion and, as the voice of South African fashion design, is regularly invited to show designs abroad. With its mission to recognise and support the very best of South Africa, the South African Fashion Week highlights and intensifies the identity, creativity and diversity of South African designers. These are elements that drive not only our fashion design industry, but also all creative communities. Ultimately, the vision is to establish retail hubs in each of the provinces in addition to the existing designer outlets in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. This will mean that towns such as Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Rustenburg, Witbank and Nelspruit will receive a colourful boost that can only be beneficial to their own marketing efforts, particularly in local tourism. Much of this vision is still to be realised. Living South African Fashion Week has been the best time of my life – not always easy, but what a way to spend one’s life! <

All images courtesy of SSAFW.



Jewellery of distinction – the African way By Melanie Harteveld Becker


ttila Giersch is a Namibian-born goldsmith with a clear message to young designers in Africa: Invest in hard work. Giersch says: “My greatest concern is that African design development is hindered by the strong international trend houses. These trend houses did not accomplish success overnight, but they worked hard to get where they are today. Please do not accept the argument ‘you’re from Africa, you need help, you cannot do this alone’. This is making the African producer dependant and easy to influence.” Giersch currently manages the Tameka Design Studio where jewellery of high value is manufactured from unusual materials and according to well-planned design

concepts. He employs a unique fusing technique that uses glass beads to set semi-precious beads between aluminium shapes. Giersch’s use of aluminium forced him to solve design problems by finding new ways of working with this lightweight material with its limitations known to every goldsmith. Giersch’s success definitely lies in continuous product development and innovation. Says Giersch: “I will carry on figuring out new concepts until I am left with a few good ones that can guarantee me good sales.” “I started my internship at Meyer Jewellers, a local upmarket jeweller with a goldsmith studio. Shortly after Namibia gained independence in 1990, the jewellery manufacturing companies formed the Jewellers Association of Namibia (JASSONA). The JASSONA apprenticeship programme controls the teaching curriculum and conducts all examinations in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education. The standards are very high and I had to do a lot of self-study to prepare for the theory examinations. I also had contact with customers from the first day of my 4-year study term and I gained experience with manufacturing custom-made pieces and fashion jewellery rather than mass-production.” Giersch’s jewellery has a distinct modern yet earthy character. Women with a strong and unique sense for styling will fall in love with his work, or as Giersch says, “…for the woman who prefers an appearance with attitude”. He always wears jewellery himself and his modern, chunky aluminium and leather bracelets are his personal favourite. Giersch derives inspiration for his designs by observing his day-to-day surroundings and happenings. “Design should never be complicated or forced; it’s a natural process.” This thoughtful and quiet designer believes that talking less and observing more is the best way to succeed. After six years’ employment at the company where he completed his apprenticeship, he was ready for the next step. Giersch opted to continue with post-graduate studies but was hindered by financial constraints and the lack of available bursaries for creative studies. formation



Another obstacle is that to pursue his master’s degree he had to study in a foreign country. His next option was to become self-employed. The business thrived from the start, as many private costumers learned through word-of-mouth that this talented goldsmith worked independently. Giersch learned that it was easy to make it in business if you are prepared to work hard, invest long hours and if you are honest with your clients and yourself. Says Giersch: “Business means doing what you do best, then concentrating your trading around that. It is important to understand the potential of your best product or service and then letting clients know what you’re made of.” Giersch is also involved with artisan training. His training career started when he was asked to do jewellery training at the College of the Arts in Windhoek in 2004. He currently trains the City of Windhoek’s Youth Entrepreneurship Group, consisting of seven young jewellery artisans. Giersch mentions that he realised he cannot carry on training masses of people half-heartedly, thinking they can earn a living after training. He remembers from his own training that it takes at least a year for a normal person to start applying certain techniques at a comfortable pace that will ensure easy production. His vision is to train smaller groups who will strive for good design and quality in their work. With 11 years of design experience and several years of training experience, Giersch believes the best way for a young designer to achieve excellence is to first of all develop a personal design style and secondly, to plan every next step on the route to the top. Says Giersch: “Never let a good idea pass you by and keep on experimenting with new techniques and materials.” < All images courtesy of Attila Giersch.



The layered identity of Karim Mekhtigian By Ghada Ibrahim

Karim Mekhtigian was born on 23 February 1964 in Egypt from an Armenian family. After attending l’Ecole Supérieure d’Art et Techniques in Paris to study Interior Design and Scenography, he started up his own design studio, Dessilk, taking on different design projects. In 1997, Karim Mekhtigian decided to return to Egypt and founded Alchemy Design Studio which, more than a decade later, is a leading design company in Egypt. Ghada Ibrahim interviewed Mekhtigian.


hen asked about his background, Karim Mekhtigian humorously refers to his identity as a ‘millefeuilles’ or layered. “I was born in Egypt; I come from a family of Armenian origin in addition to being a French citizen. I lived in France for 15 years, got married, came back to Egypt 12 years ago. Oh, and I’ve been told by a fortune teller that I was Japanese in another life! I guess that gives you a clear image of my schizophrenic reality and I’m afraid it’s reflected in my work.”

GI > Tell us about your journey as a designer. What projects have you worked on to date? KM > I come from a very productive family, my father is a mechanical engineer, my uncle is an architect and my other uncle is a film producer. When I was young, everybody was producing something, except me! They kept telling me that I should do something but

I was just sitting there, observing and watching them work. I used to always observe things and question the purpose of their existence, as well as the way they were created. It was then that I realised that curiosity was one of my main characteristics. Also, growing up in Egypt was certainly another major factor; you can’t help but become aware of the mysteries that surround you and start asking yourself all these questions. Why this history? Why this powerful nature? Why these different religions and cultures? Why this traffic? I just wanted to find the answers! I could’ve been a philosopher, a politician or a scientist, but it happened that during the 80s when I was in Paris it was very fashionable to be a designer. So I became a designer. I chose this career because in my opinion, design is a way of expression and might even be the art form of the 21st century. Design has the ability to translate


226 > INDUSTRIAL DESIGN human stories through production and technology; it’s going beyond the visual communication aspect of art through physical experiences – which makes the impact of design very powerful. I started my career by working as a freelancer on different projects in architecture/interior design, as well as product design. As I mentioned earlier, I decided to create my own design studio, Dessilk. In 1997 I came back to Egypt and founded Alchemy Design Studio. I have since been working on a wide range of design projects for residential, corporate and commercial accounts. I also collaborated with international companies like AV Mazzega and Frag, a number of leading Egyptian manufacturers and, not to forget, my constant work for Alchemy’s Furniture Collection. For the past four years I have also been working on a regular basis with the Egyptian Furniture Export Council on exhibitions, trying to create an identity for the national industry. I’ve been commissioned to design the Egyptian Pavilion for several international trade shows in Milan, Paris and Cairo. In retrospect, when I think about it, there have been many turning points in my career. Let’s see… the day I was born, some important encounters, founding Alchemy Design Studio and the recent fire we had in our office. GI > What makes good design, in your opinion? KM > Five major things: 1. The sense and the essence of a project.

GI > Tell us a little about your working process. What mediums do you prefer to work with and why? KM > The process of design begins at a very conceptual level and often the final design is surprising, breaking free from pre-conceived ideas. Many things influence my work. I find inspiration everywhere – in different aspects of life – whether its history, philosophy, culture or nature. When you look closely, you always find a story. A couple of years ago I created an interpretation of the popular Egyptian coffee table for the Egyptian manufacturer mohm. While designing the Taktouka Table I wanted to capture the sense and smell of Cairo, along with its hustle and unique humour through this local icon. Using a basic material like metal in a design that featured intricate details, I was able to go one step further by humbly taking a step back. In general, my shapes come from structured spontaneity. I don’t think in terms of normal or typical forms. If we take the Bi Lounge chair, for example, as effortless and simple as it may seem, when you sketch it you realise that it’s impossible to create something like this. This is why I like to work on an idea or a concept from which I create an alphabet, which may become a chair, bed, sofa or building without calculating the possibilities. It’s about going beyond the physicality of design, as objects become words that allow me to write the story, to create an environment and to convey both emotional, as well as sensual contexts. And, you need to make sense of the context, because design always functions in a context. It never occurs in a vacuum.

2. The least design possible. 3. Timelessness. It’s all about the ability to stand the test of time and become a classical icon. 4. Design refers to all aspects of how a thing is crafted, not just the visual aspect. 5. Designs that communicate a story.

The same applies to interior design. For me, designers should act as mediators and catalysts; they should be responsible for putting forward alternative models of living and showing that progress has to be human. Our function in this society can


Bi Lounge Chair (Design Karim Mekhtigian for Alchemy).

White Desert Coffee Table (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Hid’n by La Roche).

White Desert Lounge (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Hid’n by La Roche).



White Desert Bookshelf (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Hid’n by La Roche).

Miss Deshret Lounge Seat (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Karassi + Karassi).

no longer be confined to that of a naïve stylist or

GI > What is the one design goal that you’ve always wanted to achieve?

cynical decorator; it must expand to the point where a human vision of sustainable development can service life itself through different inventions. These visions can be found through carefully observing the symbiosis between culture and nature, technology and ecology and most importantly, man and his environment. In a way design has to elevate people’s perception of and respect for life. It’s not about design – it’s about life. I believe that creating intelligent forms and interiors generate intelligent attitude and

KM > Life! GI > What are the latest projects launched by your company? What are you currently working on and what projects are in the pipeline? KM > The past few months Alchemy has worked on diverse projects. In April, with the Egyptian Furniture Export Council, Kyme, we presented the Egyptian pavilion in the last edition of Salone Internazionale del Mobile.

intelligent lifestyle. It’s not the chair but it’s the way you sit on it, it’s not the bed but it’s what you dream about, it’s not the mobile phone, but it’s the quality of communication.

Then we launched Karassi + Karassi and Hid’n by La Roche with two leading Egyptian manufacturers. We’re trying to create local design brands that have the

Mini Deshret Pouf (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Karassi + Karassi).

Taktouka Table (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Mohm).

White Desert Side Table (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Hid’n by La Roche).

White Desert Console (Design by Karim Mekhtigian for Hid’n by La Roche).



Kyme, Egyptian Pavilion at Salone Internazionale del Mobile April 2009 (Design by Karim Mekthigian. Client: Egyptian Furniture Export Council).

same design quality as international brands and I have other interior projects coming up ranging from that can compete globally. I have created the Deshret

residential, corporate and commercial. We’re also

Collection for Karassi + Karassi as for Hid’n by La

working on a line of carpets and rugs for Alchemy

Roche and I’ve designed a complete collection inspired

with different designers. The line is inspired by nature

by and named after the Egyptian White Desert.

and the different abstract representation of it.

In June we also worked on an interesting project

GI > What does Karim Mekhtigian consider to be his

with The Townhouse Gallery in Cairo. It was a great

validity in African design? What makes you a leading

opportunity to combine both art and design in the African designer? gallery’s annual art sale. KM > Well, I don’t really consider myself a leading I’m currently working on Alchemy’s new furniture

African designer. Yes, I’ve been trying to contribute to

collection which will be launched in December during the industry with my work. But I think we need a little the opening of our second showroom in Designopolis bit of time before we start talking about African design. (one of Cairo’s biggest design retail areas). The We need to invest a lot of effort to create something collection includes a series of sofas and armchairs that we can call African design. It’s a long process for living areas – which reflects Alchemy.

until we get there. <

Collaborating for brand value and longevity By Roelf Mulder, Managing Director, …XYZ Design

In tough economic times a holistic, three-dimensional approach to product development that puts together the collaborative excellence of all creative disciplines is vital for brands to entrench their value without compromising quality.


he current risk-averse nature of our economy is the right time for all the creative people involved in initiating, developing and marketing products to start collaborating to add more value to the process of products for our clients’ competitive advantage. Too often the creative disciplines involved in taking a product to market work in silos, only collaborating in the final stages. A more focused approach, through which a product’s financial viability is determined early on will bring more value to the product lifecycle and is far more cost efficient. Products are becoming more important to the brand than they were a few years ago and consumers are aware that brands are more than visual. They are also tactile. A good-looking product may fail in its target market because it doesn’t feel right in the hand, or operates clumsily.

Making a product work at the right price is a challenge – and it’s a skill that product developers bring on early in the development lifecycle. This is why it is important to collaborate with experienced product developers at the early stages because they understand the complexities and costs of product manufacture and can produce prototypes for evaluation. Product developers have hands-on exposure to a wide range of materials because they are not beholden to a manufacturer or a specific process. Early in the process they can determine the financial viability of a product, helping curb expenditure on ideas that may be altered or abandoned. Marketing spend has to be wise these days. Product developers’ expertise can inform that budget. I believe that unnecessary costs can be cut from the entire product process if brand houses and product


232 >


developers collaborate at an earlier stage. As product developers we manage the technological risk through the entire process. We examine the environmental and sociological impact of the product, ensuring its market success. We bring a toolbox of ideas and experience to the team that offer insight to brand strategists. The product conceptualisation, production and marketing process must be integrated if they are to protect the brand’s value in the present – and with developments in the future. Manufacturers have approached us for help with interpreting and translating two-dimensional concepts given to them by creative agencies. While these have been true to the brand identity and well executed, they lack three-dimensional resolution and have not explored issues of usability. Based only on the creative brief it is likely that the manufacturer would produce something based only on his experience and capabilities. The full potential of the manufacturing spectrum would not have been explored for the best options to enhance the look and feel of the brand’s value.

The Snuza Baby Monitor, designed by ...XYZ Design. The Snuza aims to prevent cot death, also known as SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome) whereby an infant stops breathing.

We use our expertise to understand the brand language as created by the branding agency. We explore the real need for the product and how it will be used and experienced. Then, always mindful of the budget, we incorporate our experience in the choice of material and production processes to ensure that brand value is delivered into the hands of the target market. Usually there has been little discussion about the customers in the target market, how they interact with objects, what materials they enjoy handling, and how much they are prepared to pay for the product. There is so much more to communicating a brand than the two-dimensional look of the product. Intoducing industrial design early in the process ensures that the end product – as well as packaging and signage – is acceptable and affordable to the targeted customers, and build trust in the brand. The initial two-dimensional product idea – that has probably gone straight from the concept proposal to the manufacturer – may produce a product that, once it has been manufactured is either too expensive for the target market or, in order to beat the budget, short-cuts

have been taken in functionality and materials used, jeopardising its market acceptance. Product developers need to influence the look, feel and functionality of the company’s future range of products to ensure consistency and brand recognition. Apple computers are a superb example of how, for more than 20 years, the look, quality and finish of all their computers have had the undeniable Apple stamp – and it’s not just the logo. It’s the way they are designed, manufactured and finished – the whole essence speaks of quality. Nokia, on the other hand, has little brand consistency, apart from the logo. When we are involved in developing products for clients, we work in networks of brand houses, software developers and strategists who all have a good understanding of the clients’ product and marketing strategy. An example is the Snuza range of baby products where we worked with strategic brand identity designer Julie Scott of ID&B. A client came to us with an idea for a baby monitor. Our first step was to thoroughly investigate the market for these products. What were customers looking for, what would make them buy our product, what would they be prepared to pay, what would the product look like and what materials should be used? All these issues were discussed with one main underlying question in mind: Would the business make a profit from this product? We discussed at length with the clients their vision for the product and further product ideas within the range. We scoped the future of their products, what they would look like and what modifications could be made within the brand identity. We take the view that as brands grow and evolve, the essence that we distil in it at the start must be recognisable in the future. Together with ID&B we spent months determining what the brand needed to communicate to the customers and then formulated a strategy that would inform the

brand design and the tools that would deliver that. These included getting the name right, the shape and colours of the product that would create confidence in the brand. The skill is to merge the brand’s essence and values with the users’ expectations of the brand and how they experience it. A considerable time was spent choosing the appropriate material for the monitor and testing the elements with which it would come into contact, such as ensuring there would be no allergic reactions to babies’ skin and ointments used on the skin. Had we not invested this time and effort in the development phases, the product may have not appealed to the target market, been too expensive or could have had a negative reaction – all of which would have irreparably damaged the brand. The monitor has proved successful and further branded products are being developed and marketed, capitalising on the elements we got right long before the product reached the shelves. The economy is taking strain and companies, wary of risk, are inclined to spend less on taking new products to market. We firmly believe that brand houses and product designers should collaborate sooner in product gestation. This ensures that the appropriate expertise and experience are applied before too many dead-ends are explored and expensive prototypes wasted. This strategy holds tremendous benefits to all involved in the process. We – the brand strategists, advertising agencies, product developers, marketing agents – should not be in competition with each other. Africa doesn’t have a mature networking ethos when it comes to product initiation, development and branding. I hope new creative networks will be forged during the coming months as financial disciplines focus on the value delivered during product development. < formation


COMPETITION LAW – THE GRAND DESIGN By Alexis Apostolidis B.Sc (Chem, Law); LLB (cum laude); FSAIIPL. Partner at Adams & Adams


n today’s creative economy, where intellectual property is the focus of attention, one tends to lose sight of the fact that it is no longer possible bandy about intellectual property rights and hope to get one’s way. From the big whoppers of fines that the Competition Tribunal has dished out over the last few years (upwards of R600 million) a breach of the competition laws has become one of the most serious risks that companies face. This is particularly so when you think that you could be fined up to 10% of your annual turnover for the previous financial year. Furthermore, developments contained in competition law have emphasised the importance of complying with competition law as part of corporate governance and risk management. This is defined in the King Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa as the identification and evaluation of actual and potential risk areas as they pertain to the company, followed by a process of termination, transfer, acceptance or mitigation of each risk.

vidual’s creative process. Accordingly, intellectual property includes, for example, patents, copyright, trade marks and design registrations. A design registration allows the proprietor to have an exclusive monopoly in respect of the design applied to a particular article. Take a look at your cell phone – chances are that the shape and configuration of the buttons are subject to one or more design registrations. Think of the car you drive – in all likelihood the light cluster, front grill and even the shape of your side mirrors may be subject to design registrations. If you are in the business of providing your product to suppliers or distributors, a very big no-no is to restrict them to a particular minimum price below which the products may not be sold. Such conduct is expressly forbidden by the Competition Act. Although recommended selling prices are allowed, these must not be linked to any conduct which has the effect of enforcing the recommended selling price as this too would result in the fixing of a minimum resale price.

Prior to the inception of the Competition Act No. 89 of 1998 (the Competition Act), the exercise of intellectual property rights did not fall within the ambit of the now superseded legislation.

Simply because your product is subject to a design registration does not mean you can force a supplier or distributor to sell one of your related products. So, for example, if you have a design registration for a light fitting, it may well be anti-competitive to require one to purchase your specific light bulbs for use with your light fitting when other light bulbs will work just as well. In other words, tying or bundling may be problematic.

It must be recalled that intellectual property includes within its scope many forms of statutory protection – all of which are aimed at protecting the results of an indi-

One of the over-arching concerns of the Competition Act, aside from the wellbeing of consumers, is the effect of one’s conduct on small and medium-sized

Accordingly companies will have to put programmes in place to minimise this risk and formulate contingency plans to weather the storm, should transgressions occur.

enterprises. Accordingly, conduct that is designed to substantially lessen or prevent competition will be problematic, especially if it results in the foreclosure of one or more of these enterprises in the marketplace. Another big prohibition in terms of the Competition Act is the collaboration between competitors in order to fix the selling price of goods or services. In fact, the fixing of any trading condition is completely out of the question. Discussion of one’s pricing structures, even if carried out in the haze of a smoke-filled restaurant bar, and agreement between competitors to price in a particular manner, will most definitely attract a contravention of the Competition Act. So too will the allocation of territories or customers. Say, for example, that you have a registered design for the shape of a bottle and you license a competitor to supply the market in Cape Town only while you supply the rest of the national market. Such an arrangement would likely contravene the provisions of the Competition Act. The microscope is even more focused on your conduct if you are dominant in a particular market, which is determined in terms of your market share, or if you have the power to control prices, exclude competition or are able to act, to an appreciable extent, independently of your customers, suppliers and competitors. Under South African design law, one can obtain protection for an aesthetic design or a functional design. An aesthetic design must have features which appeal to and are judged solely by the eye. A functional design has features which are necessitated by the function which the article to which the design is applied is to perform. Simply put, the article looks the way it does because otherwise it wouldn’t work. Imagine that you have a functional design registration for a particular product and since it is new and not common-place you are able to create a niche market in respect of which you are the only player. Imagine then that one or more individuals would like to enter into the market but are denied licenses under the design registration – a decision perfectly within your

rights. Well, in terms of the Competition Act, these individuals may allege that the design registration is a resource that cannot reasonably be duplicated, since you have a monopoly right in respect of the design, and accordingly it is not possible, without access to the design registration, to provide the product to their customers. In short, the Competition Act could be used to force a licence under the design registration. Although the above scenario is more applicable to infrastructural resources, such as a telecoms network, a railway network and the like, there is nothing stopping one from applying the relevant section of the Competition Act to intellectual property rights. In fact, in South Africa a similar argument was used against some pharmaceutical manufacturers to obtain licenses under patents for certain anti-retroviral drugs. Unfortunately the matter never made it to our courts so there is no case law that tackles this interface of intellectual property and competition law. Certainly, EC jurisprudence shows that there have to be exceptional circumstances to impinge upon one’s intellectual property rights. However, the threat always remains. It is also prohibited for a dominant entity to engage in any activities that are designed to impede or prevent a firm from entering into or expanding within a market if the effects thereof outweigh any pro-competitive effects there may be (such as consumer benefits, economies of scale and the like). Also, price discrimination, rebate structures and loyalty programmes, to name but a few, all bear great scrutiny if one is dominant in the relevant market, especially if such conduct results in a substantial lessening and preventing of competition. If anything in this article has caused you to raise an eyebrow, or, worse yet, has raised your stress levels, it is recommended that you conduct a compliance audit of your key agreements and key practices. Further, it is recommended that you institute training programmes for your employees, especially if you have a sales force, so they know the do’s and don’ts of competition law. <


greenside design center excellence in design through excellent facilities


Thinking of a new design order


ultidisciplinary collaboration has been on the agendas of national and international design bodies and the education community for several decades and many critics believe that these debates have flourished yet they have delivered few results. The examples that critics often quote include the challenges faced by Design for the World and the slow progress in the development of collaborative programming of the International Design Alliance (IDA). Critics generally acknowledge that these initiatives have great potential, but they get frustrated by the pace of progress, the cumbersome processes of management which is based on consensus, and most importantly, the annoying interferences of interdisciplinary politics – professional jealousy, ‘turf protection’ and egos. These are challenges that are definitely not unique to the design professions. More than often, it is only the experienced ‘insiders’ of such organisations that understand the complexities of fostering interdisciplinary collaboration. In December 2008, Des Laubscher and Danish designers, Marianne Frandsen and Ingrid Leujes, met in the Drakensberg, South Africa, where they discussed their ideas on the future of Design for the World, the IDA and design education. Laubscher and Frandsen are past presidents of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) and have been actively involved with Design for the World since it was founded in 1998. They concluded that one of the ways to strengthen the IDA is to establish a strong connection with Design

for the World and by following a “Looking back to take a step forward” philosophy. By “Looking back…” they mean revisiting the Design for the World Constitution, specifically Article 5 which states: “The DW’s mission is the proactive multidisciplinary pursuit of solutions to problems that surpass the competence of any given field of design activity, thus becoming an instrument for channelling design’s expertise and influence, towards outcomes aimed at the improvement, nurturing and wellbeing of society and the habitat. By combining the professional knowledge and influence of all design concerned organisations, DW will encourage, promote and support design solutions to the multifaceted social, humanitarian and economic issues with which we are involved, solutions that are beyond the scope of a single field of design specialisation.“ And by “…take a step forward” the group means acknowledging that these words are still valid and they propose it to be a way of developing the IDA in future. They say that the IDA could act as a ‘container’ of projects that already exist in the international bodies. Examples include the IFI’s Design for All, Pro Vitae and W.I.N.G. initiatives, Icsid’s Interdesign workshops and Icograda’s INDIGO and +design initiatives. In addition, many national design associations run projects that focus on ‘improving life’, and most educational institutions run social responsibility initiatives on a regular basis. The group suggests that such initiatives should be pooled and given Design for the World status, and that the activities should be supported and publicised by the IDA.

The group also says that another type of project that should be looked at are the ones ‘we need to act now’, i.e. natural catastrophes, epidemics, etc. Through the IDA and Design for the World, designers can collaborate with NGOs who have ample experience in dealing with crisis situations. Laubscher suggests that ‘design silos’ be established to react when needed. He says that: “The concept behind the ‘design silos’ is in keeping with the mission of Design for the World. Design must play the role of being proactive rather than reactive. There have been many good ideas produced around the world focusing on design for humanity, but unfortunately we have lacked the funding and other necessary infrastructure to put plans in action when they have been needed, resulting in us acting too slowly and too late to make an impact through design in disaster areas.” He continues: “The idea is to build regional capacity through involving designers, and design schools in particular, to participate in pooling ideas and intellectual resources to ensure that design can make an impact when needed.” Laubscher mentions that his school, Greenside Design Center, in Johannesburg, commits 10% of its curriculum to dedicated community projects. “If other design schools can do the same we could pool our thinking and share ideas over the Internet, and in very little time, we could build an incredibly strong and vibrant network in order to make such a project a success.” Frandsen says that: “With our experience of working within the international design organisations, there is an urgent need to promote a changed attitude to design as such. Therefore, the IDA could improve the way that the public are thinking of design (chic, high-tech, superfluous) and by publishing Design for the World projects and the underlying demand for designing ‘for the other 90 %’.” She believes that professional designers would also benefit from a changed public attitude.

Frandsen concludes that another benefit of collaboration is that the IDA could enable Design for the World to achieve UN status because it represents critical mass. Whether this kind of innovative thinking will make it to the agendas of the upcoming general assemblies of the IDA partners, Icograda, Icsid and IFI in the next few months is still to be seen. Yet it makes perfect sense to pool the resources and activities of national, international professional bodies and the education community, and leverage the status of IDA to assist designers to make a more worthwhile contribution to a world that is facing many challenges.

About Design for the World Design for the World is an international humanitarian organisation whose objective is to match the skills and commitment of volunteer designers with the needs expressed by disadvantaged populations and the organisations that serve them worldwide. Design for the World unites designers from all disciplines around one common idea: voluntary design for people in need.

About the IDA The International Design Alliance is a strategic venture between the international organisations representing design. The alliance was created by founding partners International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) and International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda) and ratified by their respective General Assemblies in 2003. In 2008, the IDA welcomed the International Federation of Interior Architects/ Designers (IFI) to the alliance as the third partner. The alliance is based on the desire of its partners to “do together what they cannot do alone,” concentrating on opportunities arising from multidisciplinary collaboration. Its vision is “The design community working together for a world that is balanced, inclusive and sustainable.” < formation


An activist for grassroots design education By Jacques Lange


esign and education have been my lifelong passion and have become the core of everything I do and think,” says design education specialist and activist, Suné Stassen. She is one of a rare breed of designers who has a particular interest in secondary-level design education – an area that faces many challenges, ranging from a low status in the education realm to a lack of resources and low skills-levels among teachers, to mention only a few. Stassen works passionately not only to highlight the challenges but also to find sustainable solutions. She says that it takes 100% commitment and passion to make the fields of design more accessible, credible and better understood: “I am constantly and tirelessly reinventing the same wheel to different audiences in a language that they can understand. It might be government, parents, teachers, kids or the general public. The advocacy and importance of the creative industry as a vital building block of any society and contributor to the economy can never be overemphasised.” She believes that design, as a school subject, is not only relevant as a viable career option for talented creative learners, but that it is also vital for the development and growth of a new generation who are strategic thinkers, creators and thought leaders in other fields – providing them with a mindset for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Stassen had this to say in an interview with DESIGN > magazine: D > How did you become involved in secondary-level design education? SS > I became a design education specialist because there was an urgent need in the field and I happened to have had the correct attributes and experience to address it. Besides already having a strong foundation in art I decided to study education for four years before I continued my studies in textile design. By the time I had completed my studies, I was one of only two people in the Western Cape who were qualified as a designer and teacher. To have a qualified designer in the school space was unheard off. When I started moderating Grade 12 design portfolios I noticed that few of the kids showed an understanding of the design processes, and it seemed increasingly obvious that the teachers at the time resorted to selfhelp hobby and craft-type books as their references, which is extremely damaging for the credibility of the design professions. I noticed that there was no understanding of target markets; the idea of research, evaluation, story and mood-boards or any form of conceptual development and critical skills development were foreign concepts.


244 > EDUCATION Design was not only taught as a ‘hobby’ but the teaching methodology that was being applied belonged to fine art. Before long I found myself in an advisory and mentorship role. A number of teachers showed interest in switching from teaching art to design but they had no idea how to make the transition. So, I became part of a small group who started lobbying actively for the separation of art and design in the education system and it took around eight to ten years before the new FET Design curriculum was eventually launched in 2006. D > You are an independent consultant, as well as the content developer and coordinator for the Woolworths Making the Difference Through Design (MTDTD) programme. How did the concept originate and what is your current involvement? SS

A number of years before the launch of the new FET Design curriculum the tertiary education community started to voice their concerns about the shortage of design-trained teachers in the secondary system. To have untrained teachers and a subject that is misunderstood, and one with a ‘low self-esteem’ were a disaster waiting to happen. I had to find a credible way to uplift the importance of this subject. >

I bounced some ideas off Gill Cowan, who, at the time, was the deputy chief education specialist for Visual Arts and Design in the Western Cape. We agreed that a relationship between the Department of Education and a credible corporate that is recognised for its commitment to quality and high standards, a company that loves design and supports education, could do a lot for the credibility of design as a school subject. I met Seton Vermaak who was the marketing manager at Woolworths at the time, to discuss a different concept. One thing led to another and before long we discussed the long-term vision I have for design education and

the seed for MTDTD was sown. Eventually the programme was launched in 121 Western Cape schools in 2006. Sappi and Design Indaba also added a lot of credibility to the programme when they joined the team as valuable sponsors. In 2005 I was the project manager and my responsibility was to produce a resource guide for educators that would feature local designers from across a number of design fields. We eventually ended up with 86 contributors and a 600-page full-colour resource manual within approximately eight months from conceptualisation to the finished product. It was a massive task! Three years later the programme has grown to national status with 400 schools actively participating. Since the launch of the resource guide, about 1 800 kids are annually exposed to the world of design. We have created local role models and are developing a lot of pride in local talent. Today I am the content developer of the MTDTD programme and my job includes anything from writing competition briefs, educational content for the new website, and advising the team on design educational matters. D > The MTDTD programme is a finalist in the prestigious 2009 INDEX: Design to improve life award. What does this mean to you? SS > It’s exhilarating! It is great to know that highly credible people from different parts of the world can find value in what we do. I had great aspirations to change the world and if the INDEX: jury recognised it to have the potential to improve the lives of others – WOW! We have most definitely moved a lot of mountains in three years. D > You consistently state that education is the solution to addressing challenges and obstacles that the design world faces. Can you expand on this?

SS > It is not just about the challenges that the design world is currently facing, it is rather the problems we are facing as a society in many areas of expertise, areas of social and environmental development, transport, health – the list goes on. It’s about constantly finding better solutions to improve the living standards of others and to develop a more productive society. It’s about providing competitive business with creative and innovative thinkers and problem solvers. I believe that the skills identified to be lacking in society should be fostered from a young age and I think a focus on design education at school level is the way to go. Post-Grade 12 it’s simply too late, since you will again only assist a talented few. We should rather focus on the early developmental stages. By the time these kids have matured to tertiary level they will already have been equipped with a number of skills that can only stand them in good stead for further development. Provided that you have a welltrained teacher, kids can develop to become problem solvers, entrepreneurs, innovators and conceptual, critical and strategic thinkers and at the same time also develop their communication, people and literacy skills. These are life skills that any parent should want their child to develop. These are as valuable as any of the skills that are highlighted in priority subjects like mathematics, languages and life orientation. I strongly believe that the subject combinations for a successful career that traditionally included mathematics, science and technology are overrated in this day and age. Has this secured us a well-equipped and skilled nation that can globally compete in a variety of innovative and entrepreneurial fields with the rest of the world? NO! There are the talented few that can gain from the traditional system, but I think the proof of the pudding is in the eating. It does not work for the masses and too many kids stay behind and will never reach their potential. Design challenges kids with different cognitive abilities and even those who would like to follow a career in

architecture, engineering, industrial design and other related studies should seriously consider a subject combination of mathematics, science & technology, languages and design. Just imagine a future workforce equipped with all these skills? It will certainly impact on the standard and quality delivery in a variety of fields – not just in the creative industries. Who knows, long-term it might even have a positive impact on the employment and crime rates. It is possible. If you have a better equipped workforce – because they have had the opportunity to develop vital life skills from a very young age because of design being a subject choice – we will deliver more top quality entrepreneurs and creators of systems, services, products and environments. It can only be a win-win situation. But I have to emphasise that this does not mean that I advocate the idea that we have to pump out 1 000 designers every year. It is much more about giving any child, not just the talented few, the opportunity to develop these vital skills to foster during their developmental stages so that their chances to excel in other areas can be increased. And it is also about the significant others who will become discerning consumers and design literate citizens in future. How can this not have a positive impact on the economy? D > What are the most pressing needs in design education at the moment? SS > We have been fighting to convince the decision makers that Design belongs on the designated university entrance list but with little success. Can you believe that there is enough justification to have art on that list, but not design? This situation has resulted in a number of principals at schools advising parents that their kids should not consider Design as a subject choice if they want to go to university. Some even hand the parents letters that carefully lists the subjects formation

246 > EDUCATION from the designated list that will allow them university entry on the one side and the other subjects on the opposite side. We can only start to imagine the consequences of such actions. There is also a great need for resources and training of teachers. But I am concerned about the lack of skills and those who are leading the teachers. I am afraid the blind are leading the blind and this is still continuing despite a knowledgeable few who try to intervene to keep everything afloat. It is the responsibility of the Department of Education to provide quality education and if they are dealing with a subject that they themselves know little about, is it not also their responsibility to find the experts to advise and lead the way? They most certainly won’t hesitate to take those measures for subjects like languages, mathematics, science and technology. Design methodology is a highly specialised field and you definitely need experts on board to lead the rest. Unfortunately, due to the lack of their own understanding of the real essence of design as a subject, the wrong people are placed in positions of leadership, which has been very damaging, to say the least. The Western Cape is continuing to deliver quality work. They have an excellent leader in Leon Buchner who is currently the deputy chief education specialist for Visual Arts and Design. He understands the design processes, is very knowledgeable in interpreting the design curriculum and definitely leads his teachers by example. He is also making a noticeable effort to get experts from different fields to offer training workshops to the teachers and the progress has been phenomenal. Other provinces have also showed a lot of improvement. In Gauteng we can note the voluntary efforts made by a few tertiary schools like that of Desmond Laubscher and his team who make every effort to assist in teacher training. The sad thing is that they don’t get support from the Department of Education or from the lead teacher who should be guiding the design teachers.

This is a great pity if you consider the profound impact that this could have on the quality and skills development of any young learner. The scale of the problem has become even more evident when design departments at universities and colleges recently and unanimously voiced their concern about the quality of work they receive, especially from Gauteng. And might I add this is a national concern. I am not only referring to tertiary institutions situated in Gauteng. Yes, there are always the exceptional few but according to the tertiary community, these students usually struggle to measure up against students from other provinces. Their visual literacy and communication skills, creative, conceptual and critical thinking abilities are really challenged and under-developed. Departments in fashion, interior design, industrial design, architecture and design engineering also voiced their concerns about the ‘flat quality’ of work they receive and these students really struggle to conceptualise in 3D which, as you can imagine, is really problematic when you are studying a field that is concerned with three-dimensional concepts. D > What are your opinions on meta-disciplinary collaboration between designers and professionals from other disciplines? SS > Brilliant designers, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and successful business men and women will tell you that the most phenomenal ideas, concepts and products they have developed did not just happen in silos. Collaboration is absolutely vital. No matter your field of expertise, we all have to understand and work with different value systems and different people to really make things work as a whole. Each industry or field of expertise is another spoke in the wheel of development, existence and progress. Competitive business needs creative, critical and innovative thinkers. <

Suné Stassen with one of her protégés, Weyers Marais, who was one of the first winners of the annual Making a Difference Through Design bursary competition, sponsored by Woolworths. This enabled him to study Surface Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). He subsequently also branched out into furniture design and social entrepreneurship. In June 2009, Marais was the Runner-up of the prestigious Design Achievers Award, and received yet another bursary sponsored by the SABS. The Design Achievers scheme aims to recognise and develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills amongst Africa’s top young design talent. Marais says: “From my first year of design studies I have said ‘yes’ to every opportunity. My passionate pursuit of experience and exposure has led me to where I am today: with my own design products on the market and starting a small furniture production business aimed at community empowerment.” Featured below are some of his original product designs which he markets under his signature label, Weyers Marais Design.



Expensive and elitist art and design education in Kenya By Lilac Osanjo, School of the Arts and Design, University of Nairobi.


n April Dr Onyango, the director of the School of The Arts and Design, University of Nairobi, was quoted in one of the local newspapers that had sought his views on the future of design in Kenya. This was yet another attempt by an educationist to communicate the importance of design to the economic and social development of Kenya. I draw on that interview and reiterate that Vision 2030 and indeed any vision for widespread growth that can be accelerated with the development of the creative industries such as art, design and performance. These creative disciplines have been sidelined by our country’s political ambition that argues that the arts are expensive and are not as important as the pure sciences for students in primary and secondary school. The argument on expense and importance is relative and only shows the fact that few people in positions of power see the relationship between the arts and quality of life for the majority in our population. The government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Education, scrapped art and design subjects at primary

and secondary school levels. The main argument at the time was that art and design were expensive and they watered down the performance of students in exams. The subjects became extra-curricular activities as more time was allocated to the sciences. The few schools that continue to offer the subjects have been labeled as well equipped, elitist and expensive and, therefore, able to afford the equipment. This unfortunate labeling directly affects the quality, diversity and motivation of students who come to the university to pursue art-related courses such as architecture, design, fine arts and performance. Art and design educators decry the abandonment of these subjects that stimulate creativity and innovation because they are aware of their contribution to the economy. Design graduates provide key knowledge and skills to the government and private sector. Designers have changed the face of numerous offices, homes and the media, for example. They provide modern graphics, pictures and advertisements that help the sale of newspapers in an increasingly competitive market. Sculpture, painting and performing arts are some of the skills that have put

Kenya on the global map. Industrial designers are engaged in design for manufacture, the marketability and profitability of products. The textile specialists have done research on issues related to the national dress that appears to be elusive. The very identity of our country and its promotion, therefore, depends largely on the design capabilities of our design graduates.

Challenges to training in art and design There are challenges in design education. These challenges are relative, especially when compared to other subjects. The questions can be asked: Is computer training any cheaper or, is Biology training any cheaper? I will not argue this comparison, but assert that every subject has a role to play in the development of the young mind. There are few local universities that offer design training and the University of Nairobi is probably the oldest and most visible. It presently admits about 40 students per year in the design course and this number could easily be doubled. It has specialised laboratories for textile printing, computer graphics, typography, photography, industrial and interior design studios and a ceramic studio. The maintenance of these highly specialised labs is a challenge, coupled with the cost of raw materials such as paper and chemicals that are essential to the training. Practical subjects are complemented with theoretical subjects such as history of art and design, research methods and contemporary design practice. In response to the changing times and technological advances, the university is introducing short courses and expanding avenues for increased local and international collaboration with institutions, the government and the private sector. As training opportunities expand, so should the understanding and willingness of government to emphasise on artistic subjects, because artistic skills support all other disciplines.

SME and institutional linkages The School has future and historic links that have seen students engaged in exchange programmes with Italian and South African counterparts at international level. Locally we have a close relationship with the Jua Kali sector with whom we have collaborated in product design and development. Jua Kali is a Kiswahili terminology used to describe the small and micro enterprises that often operate under the scorching sun with minimum resources. Some of the new products have been exhibited in places such as the Village Market, Nairobi. The School has a repository of research undertaken in areas such as indigenous design and production processes. The Jua Kali entrepreneurs are sometimes invited to share their design experience with the students. The School has also developed several short training programmes for the Jua Kali entrepreneurs in skills such as textile printing technologies. Art and design skills are a visual language that can be adopted by any person in any situation. Therefore, the label of “expensive and elitist� is misplaced and should be dispelled so that the arts can thrive.

The way forward The value of design to quality of life is taken for granted. The appreciation that, for example, the unique crockery in which meals for distinguished guests are served is the labour of some designer cannot be overlooked. US President Obama’s inauguration was a celebration of contemporary design. The fashion, product and industrial designers all worked to create the gowns, the pen he used to sign with, the ugly car. These things made the occasion memorable. Designers create memorable experiences and deliver quality lifestyles for all. <



A first for Africa > Design Grade 10


esign as a secondary school subject has faced many transformations, developments and challenges during the past few years. Not dwelling on the challenges, one of the most encouraging recent developments is the publication of the textbook, Design Grade 10 and the accompanying Design Grade 10 Teacher’s Guide published by Future Managers in 2009. The publisher describes the book as: “The first ever full-colour design textbook designed for designers by designers in South Africa.” The authors, Suné Stassen, Leon Buchner, Ronell Lareman, Lara Kruger and San-Marie de la Rey, brought together their vast experience in design practice and education in a whopping 300-page textbook. The book coincidentally matches the FET (Further Education & Training) National Design Curriculum for Grade 10 100%, and it is divided into four modules, which match the four school terms. The modules take an unique and intelligent pedagogical slant on the subject and include: What is design?; Communication; Can design benefit society?; and Design in a business context. The content is structured to effectively empower teachers to take learners on a progressive and insightful journey through the plethora of design disciplines, covering history, theory, critical thinking, contemporary case studies, practical activities, assessment guidelines and much more. The content structure and the design of the book is dense and engaging. It moves beyond the traditional way of teaching design at secondary school level, which tends to focus on the aesthetic and execution aspects. Design Grade 10 rather focuses on the inherent function and value of contemporary design practice

and contextualises it in the worlds of business, society and popular culture – a rather refreshing approach. Another unique aspect of the textbook is its focus on the South African context. Design Grade 10 is filled with examples of work, case studies and interviews with South African designers. The content goes beyond mere ‘show and tell’ and positions design as a vialable career option. The selection of case studies and featured designers spans a variety of design disciplines and generations and thereby, creates local role models – an aspect that Africa urgently needs. Since Design is not regarded as a priority school subject such as Mathematics and Science, the Department of Education does not invest many resources in its development – teacher training and teaching tools. However, the authors of this textbook drew upon their deep passion for the subject to develop a tool that elevates its status, empowers its teachers and inspires its learners. The publisher took a commendable risk by investing in a niche subject, publishing an obviously costly fullcolour textbook – an unusual step in the textbook market – and they supported the belief of the authors that one cannot teach Design effectively with a black and white handbook. Understandably, it is not a high-end quality production but that was never the intention – it needed to be an unpretentious and content driven ‘workhorse’, which it is.

Design Grade 10 can be ordered directly from the publisher at index.php?act=viewCat&catId=41 <



THE BRAND GAP and ZAG By Ria van Zyl

If you wanna innovate, you gotta DESIGN.” Martin Neumeier, author of THE BRAND GAP and ZAG presents a design alternative to solve complex problems in business (also called wicked problems). This insightful book introduces the principles of design thinking as business competence. “Design drives innovation; innovation powers brand; brand builds loyalty; and loyalty sustains profits. If you want long-term profits, don’t start with technology – start with design.”

The value of this book not only lies in explaining the power of design, but in bridging the gap between design and business by offering a practical way forward. Neumeier’s ladder of design leverage comprises 16 leverage points that are especially relevant to existing businesses in need of innovation and change. However, radical change requires people with creative leadership. Neumeier proposes in Lever 5 the use of a metateam - collaboration between specialist teams - as the model of choice for advanced creativity. The

Comments about this book “No filler. No fluff. Marty Neumeier has distilled his message on innovation and design down to just the good stuff. Read the whole book on your next flight, and arrive with fresh insights ready to share.” Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO and author of The ten faces of innovation. “If this is your first Marty Neumeier book, you’ll be blown away. Wonderful, fresh content presented as a visual tour de force.” Garr Reynolds, Management Professor at Kansai Gaidai University, and author of Presentation Zen. “At last! A book that clearly articulates how and why design is absolutely fundamental to the success of business today. Chockfull of great insights.” Thomas Lockwood, PhD, President of Design Management Institute.

need for strong internal design management is also emphasised. The new raw intangibles are imagination, empathy and collaboration. These are translated into finished intangibles, with a shift of the valuation of economic value from return on capital to return on creativity. This completely changes the modes of human resource management and Neumeier presents several tactics to facilitate a new way of strategic talent management.

The book concludes with short take-home lessons for the busy reader. This is followed by useful suggestions how design can solve the top ten wicked problems. A well considered and useful list of recommended reading is finally suggested for those who want to know more.

The DESIGNFUL COMPANY: How to build a culture of nonstop innovation is a whiteboard overview by Marty Neumeier, and is published by Peachpit’s New Riders imprint, in partnership with AIGA. ISBN 987-0-32158006-1




“…dream about a super-human language that is shaped by biology, rather than culture – the dream of a universal means of communication that we have sought for centuries” – Paola Antonelli.


graphic designer, type artist, experimentalist, magician, mad scientist, animator and genius are only some of the words used to describe Israeli-based designer Oded Ezer. The list is so elaborate that it is hard to believe everyone is talking of one man. To a sceptical onlooker this may seem like another design ‘high’ – another ‘brilliant’ book written about another ‘brilliant’ designer showcasing all their ‘brilliant’ work. And although it encompasses all of the above (and more), it will take a mere flip through the pages to be captivated and enchanted, turning that same sceptic into a devout follower.

Oded Ezer: A Typographers Guide to the Galaxy published by Gestalten can be described as design’s own type of fantasy novel featuring a very real hero. It is a journey into Ezer’s personal typographical galaxy bearing the soul of his work. This galaxy is divided into four areas, Fonts, Graphic Work, Between the Letters and Experimental Work.

Each is assigned a narrator of sorts, cleverly guiding us through what follows. But before we are allowed to leap we are introduced to Oded Ezer by Paola Antonelli and Marian Bantjes. Through their personal experience they provide an account of the man that is Ezer, his work and its implications. Paola Antonelli recalls the inclusion of Ezer’s Typosperma project in MOMA’s exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind. Part of his Biotypography series, she describes it as embodying the dream of design and science coming together. Bantjes describes Ezer as a pioneer and a bit of a mad genius, praising him (with a pinch of jealousy) as a true manipulator of form and typographic animator. And then we leap…In Fonts, Yehuda Hofshi chronicles the changing form of the Hebrew letter. It is a much needed history lesson to understand the cultural dilemma that typographers such as Ezer face. In Graphic Work, Kitty Bolhöfer reveals the deceptively simple

Typosperma is the second experimental type project in his Biotypography series The main idea of the project was to create some sort of new transgenic creatures, half (human) sperm, half letter.

Oded Ezer’s business card.

rule which permits Ezer a life both as a commercial designer and typo artist: Always play, never work. Cinzia Ferrara tells us about the intricate relationship between Ezer and his letters forging the beauty of his work, in Between the Letters. A conversation between Kitty BolhÜfer and Ezer concludes this section before she guides us into the forth area, Experimental Work. This area of Ezer’s galaxy is by far the strangest and most magical. We are allowed to step into the studio of a designer/magician/mad genius/ scientist which doubles as a nursery and play ground where compromises and rules are not allowed. Oded Ezer challenges us to step out of our catatonic state and not just see typography, but experience it, as he gives each of its individual letters a life of its own. He is anything but a one-hit-wonder and there will much anticipation for the sequel of this book. < The message.



Details from Typosperma.

LTR: Detail from Oded Ezer’s 2007 font catalogue. Detail from Rooms, a type art project (photographed by Idan Gil).

LTR: Oded Ezer’s homage to Milton Glaser’s I Love NY logo. Typographic poster Alef. Detail from the Tortured Letters project.

LTR: Oded Ezer with a Biotype friend (photographed by Idan Gil). Details from Biotypography, a type art project. Details from the typographic poster, The Chorus of the Opera.



Never Use White Type on a Black Background and 50 other Ridiculous Design Rules

According to the Dutch writer, editor, curator and allround creative, Anneloes van Gaalen (A.K.A. Paperdoll), the world of fashion and design is inundated with a seemingly endless list of rules. Think of ‘Less is more’, ‘Form follows function’, ‘Keep it simple’, ‘Dress your age’ and the list goes on and on. These are familiar sayings that some designers consider to be valuable words of wisdom, which serves as guidelines and sources of inspiration. To others, these rules are mere restrictions, design dogmas and fashion formulae that need to be bended, twisted or broken altogether. Granted, creativity knows no bounds and, therefore, it seems rather ridiculous to restrict creativity by sticking to a couple of age-old rules. However, in some cases the rules seem more like the basic principles that every designer should love, honour and obey.

Never Use White Type on a Black Background And 50 other Ridiculous Design Rules collects 51 famous and obscure design rules that are accompanied by chronologically placed quotes and images – courtesy of designers, architects, fashion designers, typographers and other creatives – that either negate or support the rules. Whichever side of the fence you’re sitting on in the rules debate, you’re bound to find this book a source of inspiration, comfort, joy or just good old fun. DESIGN > asked van Gaalen why this book is intended to be more than mere fun. Her response: “The aim was not to list all the rules that a designer needs to adhere to. Nor did I take sides in the whole rules debate. Design is in many ways a universal language. Of course a designer or even a consumer brings his or her own cultural baggage to the table, but there are



rules and adages that can and will transcend all off that. I firmly believe that you need to know your classics.” She ironically quotes an old saying: “You need to know the rules before you can you can break them.”

Ridiculous Design Rules is a concept of Four Weeks of FreeDesigndom, developed by Lemon Scented Tea and commissioned by Premsela, the Dutch Platform for Design and Fashion. Later this year titles on Ridiculous Fashion Rules , Ridiculous Advertising Rules and Ridiculous Typography Rules will also be published. Curated Mag summarises the book’s content and intentions quite accurately in its review: “You’ve probably heard these design adages on several occasions (or


many more). You may even know the history behind them. Even if you do, Anneloes van Gaalen might teach you something. Or, just make you laugh.” With this book, van Gaalen also challenges a few other rules that are not included in the text such as ‘book titles should be short and catchy’, ‘books that are intended to inform and educate cannot be written in a style that is cheeky and flavored with irony’, and ultimately, ‘Guard against stereotyping! No serious writer on design should call his or her company Paperdoll if they are intelligent, talented blond and vivacious.’ Considering the latter statement, van Gaalen walks the talk and slaughters a few other myths known to the design profession. <

CONTENTS 261 > 263 > Editor’s Foreword 264 > The essence of a woman 268 > Italy on display 270 > A passion for elegant furniture 274 > Easy wallpaper effects are quick and convenient 276 > Lighting up The White House 278 > Estate feature: Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate

CREDITS CEO & Publisher > Cameron Bramley

Design > in Living magazine

Editor > Bev Hermanson

Block C, The Palms Office Park, Main Avenue, Ferndale,

Advertising consultants > Jason Bramley, Jaime-Lee van Sittert, Geri Adolphe, Simone De Beer, Charl Lampbrechts, Meyer Venter

Tel: +27 11 998 2800 Fax: +27 11 998 2801

Randburg, 2194, South Africa

No part of this publication may be reproduced without the Production co-ordinatior > Michelle Swart Administration > Lana McLachlan Design and layout > Bluprint Design (pp 261-277) Karen Harvey (from page 278)

prior written consent of the publishers. The publisher and staff do not take responsibility for any errors or omissions. The Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate information was deemed accurate at time of publication, but details may change as the estate development progresses.

263 >



rilliance comes in many different guises, whether

Despite recent reports that the British property market

it’s a masterfully pieced-together golf estate,

is expected to bottom out towards the end of this year,

a well-manufactured product or the brilliance

with a drop of up to 25% of their property values, in South

of a talented graduate that brings world acclaim to her

Africa, we are still holding up well. In fact, our market

clients. Whatever the field or application, the response

is attracting lots of attention and we are now finding

can be breathtaking, overwhelming, resounding,

many more foreign suppliers pitching to claim a share

completely unexpected, if it’s done right.

of our business. This should be a wake-up call to local manufacturers, as we certainly have the capabilities

In this edition, we continue to showcase the magnificent

to produce designs and finishes equal to, if not better

Serengeti Golf & Wildlife Estate, with some extra

than, our overseas counterparts.

pictures of their recently-opened clubhouse. We take a look at a range of recycled products that caught the

While it’s flattering to see that international players are

eye of United States President, Barack Obama, and

looking at our market as an outlet for their products,

visit the exhibition, held at the UJ Alumni Gallery, that

we need to be watchful that we do not unnecessarily

pays tribute to the works of Maira Koutsoudakis.

lose market share in our own back yards.

Tap into some Italian inspiration with Fabbian lights,

Bev Hermanson Studio and find out how the Koreans paint ‘wallpaper’ Editor > explore the English crafting techniques used by Sofa onto walls.


264 >

The essence of a woman By Bev Hermanson

Mother, wife, twin sister, acclaimed designer, Maira Koutsoudakis is as eloquent as she is creative. She clearly is a favourite amongst her past lecturers, clients and peers. She has spun her magic in many an interior. Restaurants, lodges, resorts, corporate interiors and distinguished homes have been brought to life by her touch. She has worked in Qatar, Antananarivo, Greece, Britain, the Seychelles, Madagascar and throughout southern Africa. Her work has been described as soulfully earthy, yet sometimes quirky with a sense of humour, unapologetically South African in its genre.

Ubuntu chair


o acknowledge this outstanding talent, the University of Johannesburg’s Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture recently held an exhibition of her work, entitled Essence: The Work of Maira Koutsoudakis in the Alumni Gallery on the UJ Auckland Park Campus. The exhibition showcased the variety of Maira Koutsoudakis’ accomplishments in the form of selected items on display, as well as an overview of the many projects that she has been involved in as part of her practice, LIFE, which she runs with her husband and business partner, John Koutsoudakis, and associate, Tony Pereira. Since 2003, Maira Koutsoudakis has won numerous awards for her work, including a Gold Loerie Award for Environmental Design for the 1886 Restaurant & Private Bar (2005) and the Best Urban Redevelopment Award for the Penthouse of the National Bank House, London (2005). Her work has been showcased at a myriad exhibitions, amongst them a number of Design Made

in Africa Exhibitions, Design Indaba, North South curated by Li Edelkoort and the South Exhibition in Cape Town. Her product designs have been singled out repeatedly for International EDIDA Awards, in

particular for her pod lights (2003), Jhb Wallpaper (2004), Wodaabe Seating (2005) and Him Basin in the Bathroom category (2007). One of the most notable projects that she has been involved in, as part of LIFE, is the North Island Resort in the Seychelles. Here, the practice has driven the conceptual design, interior architecture and interior design, design strategy and creative direction of this private island resort. Many items have been custom-designed to suit the climate, location and unique guest experience defined for a conservation-oriented eco-establishment. As a result, the North Island Resort has claimed title after title, thanks to the organic modernism and unique resort offering that has been formulated by the dynamic team. With accolades such as One of the World’s Coolest Hotels (2004), One of the Sexiest Places Across the Globe (2004), No.1 in the World’s Top 100 Best of the Best in the World (Conde Nast Traveller UK 2006) and The Most Consistently Brilliant Hotel in the World (Tatler Travel Awards 2007), to name but a few, small wonder the UJ Alumni Gallery thought it only fitting to acknowledge this world-acclaimed graduate.

Explaining the theme for the UJ exhibition, Koutsoudakis says: “Every creative exercise begins as a denuding one. Slowly, layer by layer, the superficial is stripped away until we arrive at the essence, the spirit of the thing.” “How to transcend the ephemeral, celebrate it, distill it, capture its essence in a way that is meaningful – universally and personally – and express it in a manner which makes the soul soar, is, I believe, the art of design.” <


266 >


North Island Resort, Seychelles.

Tony Pereira, Maira Koutsoudakis, John Koutsoudakis, the drivers of LIFE.

Vessels from the Scar Collection.

Tasha’s Restaurant Franchises.

Serra Cafema, Namibia. living

268 >

Italy on display


talian fashion has always been distinctive, whether it is in the garments industry, furnishings or kitchen and bathroom wares. Italian designs are immaculate.

Their functionality, superb. The recent Italian Technology and Heritage Expo 2009, held at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, reinforced this premise with a select arrangement of Italian furniture, lighting and accessories on display. One of the exhibitors was Fabbian, the lighting manufacturer that produces exceptional light fittings in a 8200 sqm plant in the metropolitan area of Venice in Italy. Now represented by Fabbian South Africa in Northriding’s Deco Park, this exclusive range of lighting offers exclusivity and style that will be difficult to surpass in any home, hotel or distinctive interior. With 48 years of research and innovation in lighting, Fabbian now ships over 260 000 light fittings annually all over the world. The company employs 28 architects and designers to develop masterpieces that will give any space that extra touch of class. <

Kone by Paolo De Lucchi & Enrica Frezza.

Hungry by Ali Siahvoshi.


270 >

Saturnina by Afra e Tobia Scarpa. Teorema by Giampiero Derai. Vicky by Nicola Gadrin & Roger Zanon.


A passion for elegant furniture In a time where traditional artisan skills have almost disappeared, and where mass- produced comparable furniture is the order of the day, it is refreshing to see a company that creates exclusive furniture made according to time-honoured techniques.



272 >


riven by the dynamic duo of Mark Bain and

displays an arched back and side, with strong symmetry.

Eloise McCarthy**, the Cape Town-based Sofa

Each piece within this collection is not only expertly

Studio makes a range of sofas, occasional chairs

crafted, but truly unique and patented, a refreshing

and chaise lounges with coil spring bases, contoured

change from the mass produced invariable designs

backs and expertly fitted upholstery.

we see today.

Each item of furniture is made to exacting standards,

The Aviator collection is equally as impressive and

using traditional English craft techniques to ensure

further bears testament to Bain’s eminence as a

superior comfort and longevity. The hand crafted frames,

furniture designer. Reminiscent of luxurious airport

made from cabinet-quality kiln dried pine are secured

lounges in the 1930s where glamorous film stars

by dowels (cylindrical wooden rods). A patented coil

rested whilst waiting to board, this Art Deco range

sprung base prevents the seat from sagging over

features arched sides, low slung backs and the

time, whilst meticulous care is taken to ensure the

fastidious detailing that one has come to expect from

rake (angle) of the seat is perfectly adjusted to ensure

this company.

ideal comfort. **Mark Bain has a BA Honours in three dimensional The recently launched Orchid Collection is testament

furniture design from High Wycombe, the renowned

to Bain’s passion for design, and was inspired by the

centre of British furniture manufacturing, whilst

luscious curves of nature, particularly the ephemeral

business partner, Eloise McCarthy, has a distinction

beauty of the Orchid. The design of the sculptural Orchid

in Traditional Upholstery from Hereford College of

chair is redolent of a flower’s petals in full bloom and

Technology, UK. <

Aviator Chair.

Chaise Lounge.



2 4 >



re you one of those people that battles with wall papering? No need to panic. There’s a simple roller application that will give your

walls a stylish wall-papered finish without the fuss. Called Liquid Wallpaper from Newwo, this easy-toapply roller application involves two layers of base coat and then a top coat in a range of designs to suit your taste and interior décor. The great thing about this method is that you have a far wider choice of colourways, although the choice of patterns is relatively limited. The end result is washable and quite easy to change – and if you like

to re-organise your home regularly, probably a great

retirement homes and churches. The materials are

deal of fun.

non-combustible, fungus resistant and washable.

The baby’s room, bedrooms, dining room and lounge

“This eco-friendly finishing material is not just a simple

can be easily visualised by visiting the Newwo

paint method. It is a patented product that does not

website and choosing a design which then washes

give off any harmful by-products,” says Leo of Newwo.

over the walls on the illustrations to give you a better

“It can be applied to a variety of surfaces, too – such

idea of the general effect.

as zinc, metal, plastic and acrylic, as well as the normal brick and plastered walls. It is anti-corrosive, UV

Winners of the UNEP Ministry of Environment Award

resistant, waterproof and dust resistant – the perfect

and the Korean Healthy House Award in 2006, Newwo

solution to your decorating needs” <

assures us that this method is eco-friendly and safe, even for public facilities, such as schools, hospitals,


276 >

Lighting up The White House By Bev Hermanson


’m not sure that I’m willing to make the leap just yet, but Barack Obama and his family have and this firm’s light fittings are now lighting up the US President’s private quarters at The White House in Washington DC. Based in Barrydale in the Cape’s Overberg District, Magpie manufactures a wide selection of light fittings from cast off and recycled materials such as plastic milk bottles, cold drink containers, bottle tops and the like. Founded in 1998 by crafter and designer, Scott B Hart, and social entrepreneur, Shane A Petzer, and later joined by fine artist Sean Daniel and their administrator, Richard Panaino, this socially conscious art collective endeavours to link the art forms with environmentally-conscious manufacturing. Their creations are sent around the world and in fact the Obamas saw them at a store in New York, fell in love with them and decided they must have them for their home. Many of the Magpie fittings are shipped in a compact version, using recycled packaging. This is particularly nifty for the decorative retrofits that are simply wrapped around single light bulbs. For these, the creators have been careful to use heat-resistant materials, but for energy-saver applications, where the bulbs emit limited heat, a large variety of plastics is used. In support of this sustainable manufacturer, the residents of Barrydale are now bringing their used packaging to the factory to be meaningfully recycled – an excellent example of how communities can pull together for the greater benefit of the planet. <