by MarkLives (@marklives) This year, Design Indaba celebrates its 25th edition. A panel of agency and media execs who’ve been regular attendees tackle: What impact has Design Indaba had on the thinking, attitude and leadership of agency and marketing creatives and executives? Has it evolved and inspired you to research new ways of doing and thinking? Has it changed how you perceive the industry? Have there been any personal highlights, and where should the event pivot next — what can it do to add meaning to the industry and to one personally? Next up in our #BigQ panel is Superunion‘s Kyley Potgieter.

Kyley Potgieter

Kyley PotgieterKyley Potgieter is a creative director at Superunion. Having spent over a decade working with some of Africa’s biggest brands and startups, she believes in design brands that matter in the simplest and most-meaningful way — design that affects the heart of the business, not just its outward expression. Kyley has extensive brand design experience in the financial services, telecommunications, aviation, real estate, retail, tourism, and FMCG sectors. She holds a BA from Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography and has trained in human-centred design through Ideo.

For me, the impact that Design Indaba has had on the thinking, attitude and our industry leadership is best described as a rubber band being stretched as wide as it can go. You never quite know where it might dart off to. Still, the potential energy created when stretching that it far and the anticipation of where it may go is seriously exciting. That’s what Design Indaba does to your brain. And I think the single most-valuable aspect this event has taught our team is to embrace the unknown.

The speakers at Design Indaba have inspired my colleagues and I to seek new ways of doing things and it continues to stretch our thinking. I find moments when the nuggets of information that I was exposed to pop into my brain, connecting unsuspecting dots at the most opportune times. This has made me realise, when we obsess over a challenge, that obsession is what drives you to seek new perspectives and find novel ways of solving brand challenges with design.

Let go of insecurity

When I initially chose to pursue a career in design, I felt the need to justify it to my friends and family as I didn’t know many successful designers. By seeing other creatives succeed and thrive sharing their successes and failures at Design Indaba, I’ve let go of that insecurity and feel incredibly proud of our creative community. The variety of people who live and breathe design are, I believe, the soul of the broader creative community. It’s inspiring to see how much they encourage and influence one another to make the world better through their craft, in the simplest and most meaningful way.

I’ve experienced so many personal highlights each year, having had the privilege of being able to sit in that auditorium year after year, and feel the energy of the speakers and guests first-hand. I think being able to see some of my idols in the flesh makes extraordinary success through impactful work feel closer than I had ever imagined. It makes it real.

Some of my favourites include;

  • Ivan Chermayeff — his relentless pursuit of absolute simplicity through trademark designs
  • Paula Scher — seeing my icon with my own eyes, I mean…
  • Casey Niestat — how he’s embraced the notion of being the person in the room who doesn’t actually know what he’s doing
  • Kate Moross — finding her own expression in-between
  • Joe Gebbia — just an air-bed on the floor…
  • Neri Oxman — blowing my mind but making me feel like I’m watching an orchestra perform with an artist
  • Thomas Heatherwick — I have no words
  • Ensamble Studio — the power of the unknown through experimentation
  • Lonny van Ryswyck — seeing potential in the dirt

While the Design Indaba stage celebrates creatives from around the world, I believe there’s a significant gap that needs to be made for local designers across Africa. Finally, in my mind, the biggest challenge is to find a way to share micro-doses of creative inspiration, with the same potency as the main event, to help make it more accessible to a broader audience.

— is a proud media supporter of Design Indaba 2020, taking place 26–28 February 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. Book your tickets online for the main conference or the live simulcast to multiple cities around South Africa.


See also


MarkLives logoLaunched in 2016, “The Big Q” is a regular column on MarkLives in which we ask key advertising and marketing industry execs for their thoughts on relevant issues facing the industry. If you’d like to be part of our pool of panellists, please contact editor Herman Manson via email (2mark at marklives dot com) or Twitter (@marklives). Suggestions for questions are also welcomed.

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