August 30, 2011
…XYZ Design: Informed and inspired by Cape Town
The Wind-up Radio FPR2 is on permanent display at the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Photo provided by ...XYZ Design
Cape Town is one of only three cities shortlisted for the World Design Capital 2014 title, along with Dublin (Ireland) and Bilbao (Spain).
Byron Qually, director of …XYZ Design, an award-winning design firm globally recognised for its leading and innovative design solutions, shared with us how Cape Town has both informed and inspired safe and environmentally friendly designs.
What makes Cape Town a great design city?
Cape Town is a city that supports creativity, and research has shown that it is the most innovative city in the country. The city is culturally, physically and politically complex, and such an environment places additional constraints and responsibility on the city’s designers.
Interestingly, such novel pressures have generated innovative solutions, and when the city’s design work is aggregated, a profoundly unique design model is starting to emerge. Within the last couple of years, many established capitals throughout the world have started looking to the city for insight.
How does Cape Town inspire your work?
Cape Town is exciting and inspirational, offering a layered urban experience, from its architecture to its history to its cultural complexity. The sheer diversity of Cape Town is both an inspiration and an ongoing challenge. Although the city is a platform to inspire and inform design, it is also a constant reminder that design needs to be strategically positioned to assist those people most in need.
You are well known for designs like the Freeplay wind-up radio and 4 Secs Condom Applicator, which are designs to make life safer and more environmentally friendly. How are these principles reflected in your other designs?
…XYZ Design’s philosophy is one that places people and their needs at the centre of our problem-solving design methodology. Designs like the Freeplay wind-up radio and 4 Secs Condom Applicator are about meeting people’s needs in a developing context. All our designs are geared to meeting human needs based on an in-depth understanding of the environment in which our designs are used. Ultimately the community, and more specifically the product user, takes precedence over the designer.
Where can members of the public see your designs?
...XYZ Design is located in the Cape Quarter and members of the public are most welcome to pop around to view our work and meet the team of designers. Our products feature in the permanent collections of international design museums, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London).
In October one of our designs will feature in an exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum (New York).
But you can also find some of our designs in local shops and businesses. For example, Old Mutual, MTN and Breadbin’s Freedom Toasters use our interactive kiosks; our Snuza baby monitor is sold at baby stores; and our Torch Tongs are sold at large sports and hardware stores.
In your opinion, what will Cape Town winning the World Design Capital 2014 mean for the local design community?
Designers tend to express themselves through their work; sometimes to the extent that they feel their designs should be self-explanatory. Unfortunately due to the relative lack of exposure design has enjoyed in the past, such a passive approach has led to many talented designers and pioneering ideas going unnoticed. The WDC will hopefully unearth some of these missed opportunities, and most importantly set the conditions for Cape Town to formally promote the city’s designers. We hope that it will help to unlock design’s potential in the public and private sectors. Already we’ve seen the value of design being increasingly recognised, and we hope that it will come to be regarded as a key component in any business strategy and government planning.
Contact …XYZ design:
Tel: + 27 (0)21 421 7236
Thank you for your support! Please download your “I support Cape Town 2014 World Design Capital” badge from www.capetown2014.com and become a fan of “Cape Town for World Design Capital” on Facebook.