by Louise Marsland (@Louise_Marsland) This year it was Design Indaba’s own projects that attracted much of the attention:

  • Take 2 — giving life to used objects
  • the Most Beautiful Object in SA (MBOISA)
  • how Artymiss won creativity, and
  • Woolies takeout a win at DI 2015.


Design Indaba 2015 Create Change Carry TablesA few years ago at Design Indaba, trend forecaster Li Edelkoort told us to “go farming”. Frankly, many of us at the time thought she was a plough short of a barn. Worship her or troll her with witty asides, she did get it right, as current trends are reflecting that prediction.

From innovation in urban farming to prints with nature (flowers, trees, animals, birds, earthy tones, leaves), furniture and jewellery inspired by nature, in the shapes of nature, are still all about bringing the ‘outdoors’ ‘indoors’ for a while now. as was shown on the Design Indaba Expo this year.

It also all ties in with the move to lessen our impact upon the environment and create sustainable design solutions to societal ills — which is at the heart of Design Indaba philosophy. There was a liberal sprinkling of functional products and art made out of used material, the recycle/upcycle trend, and blended product use.

According to the organisers, one project, “Create.Change”, was born out of Design Indaba and Leg Studios’ “desire to tap into the innate creativity of local artists and harness this talent to Make.Change” — Design Indaba’s stated vision.

They challenged South Africa’s artists and creatives to create works of art from Leg Studios’ three-legged, flatpacked birch carry tables. Artists such as Renee Rossouw, Frank van Reenen, Unathi Mkonto, Lauren Fowler, Daniel Ting Chong, Dani Loureiro and more donated their time to the #MakeChange campaign.

At the expo, visitors were able bid for their table of choice and the money will be donated to provide children of a primary school in Grassy Park, Cape Town, with a sustainable and inspiring library.

“This project showcases how real change can be effected quite easily, through the combination of creativity, collaboration and commitment,” says Kim Seeliger, Design Indaba Expo manager.

The second life of objects

Design Indaba 2015 chair by The Red DogA Design Indaba project, “Take 2 — the second life of objects”, was a popular stand at the expo this year. It comprised a curated selection of furniture and functional homeware design, sourced both locally and internationally.

The point was to showcase how to “breathe life into old things”. Materials were repurposed and even the original function of redundant objects changed, such as the interesting chair made from an old supermarket trolley by The Red Dog, Quazi Designs’ cluster of pendant lights made of old newspapers, and the chandelier of hundreds of plastic bread tags.

Design Indaba wants us to think upon the following: “Do we need more new things when the old present such endless possibilities? How do we reincarnate products that already contain the DNA of their first life? Is trash the new raw material…?!”

Most beautiful

Design Indaba MBOISA 2015 winner BoomslangAs always, the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA), chosen by local creative visionaries and then voted on by the public, sparked debate and interest in all things design. So many beautiful things this year… but the new Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway at the world-famous Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town — the “Boomslang” as it is known colloquially — won the accolade this year.

The raised walkway through the garden’s arboretum, inspired by a snake skeleton, was a collaborative effort by architect Mark Thomas and structural engineer Henry Fagan. The total structure was also designed to be low-maintenance and low-impact.

Nominations included submissions by media, photographers and designers, as well as puppet provocateur Chester Missing (who, in my opinion, is also one of our treasured beautiful ‘objects’), and included ‘beautiful’ objects such as: “The Boran Bull”, an intricately beaded artwork by Ntombephi Ntobela of Ubuhle Beautiful Beads; Erre’s silk organza and leather floral dress from its Spring/Summer 2014 collection; and the Pace/MultiChoice Explora PVR decoder for its world-class software.

Then there was light…

Design Indaba 2015 Most Creative Stand winner ArtymissThe winner of the most creative stand on the Design Indaba Expo was Artymiss, a Cape Town-based design studio run by Pauline Irvine that creates laser-cut stationary. Boxes showcasing the work were individually lit, creating a halo effect around each intricate piece.

The stand took architect Peter Neokorides, of Green Way Interiors, a week to build.

“The lighting detail, not only for the product but also as decorative lighting, made the stand extremely easy on the eye and allowed the product to stand out,” interior designer Robert Sherwood, who judged the award, told Design Indaba.

Takeaway bites

Design Indaba Woolworths Takeaway boxDesign Indaba Woolworths Takeaway box openedDesign Indaba Woolworths Takeaway apron
No one is tied to anyone’s apron strings at Design Indaba as innovation flows freely and without restriction. Woolworths and Design Indaba collaborated once again on the traditional bag/T-shirt drop for full Design Indaba ticket holders and select media, except this year they did a branded apron instead of a shirt.

The stone-coloured apron was presented in a dinky takeaway lunchbox, wrapped expertly and, via a box wraparound, encouraged visits to the Woolworths Taste Design display outside the main auditorium, where a medley of flavour combinations were on offer in a unique taste experience.


Shelf Life is a weekly column by Louise Marsland. Tweet new product, packaging and design launches to @louise_marsland Louise Marslandor email her at louise.marsland at Want to sponsor Shelf Life? Contact us here.

Louise has written about the FMCG, media, marketing and advertising industry for over 20 years as a former editor of magazines AdVantage, Marketing Mix and Progressive Retailing, as well as websites and FMCGFiles. She also edited the weekly Wednesday Media & Marketing Page for The New Age newspaper. She is currently the publishing editor of industry trendwatching portal, TRENDAFRiCA, for consumer insight, research and trends in Africa; a regular industry columnist and speaker; a consultant on content strategy; and contributing editor to Fast Company South Africa magazine, which has just launched in South Africa.

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