Cape Town gears up for design inspiration

Cape Town is gearing up to be inspired by all genres of design and an abundance of creativity in the next few days: The Design Indaba, to be held this week at Cape Town International Convention Centre, is recognised the world over as a top design and trend event, with speakers such as Alberto Alessi, Mark Shuttleworth, and Michael Wolff set to stimulate conversation and offer a fresh take on creativity this year. The Design Indaba Conference runs from February 23 – 25, with the Design Indaba Expo open to the public between February 25 – 27.

Design Indaba events in 2010 attracted approximately 37 300 international delegates, media representatives, buyers and members of the public, and reinforced Cape Town’s positioning as a design-focused destination, a place of creative inspiration.

As part of the annual Design Indaba series of events, the Design Indaba Filmfest 2011 runs from February 18 – 27 at the new Freeworld Design Centre, an establishment that is, in itself, testament to Cape Town’s creative and design status: The old Cape Waters Building (along the Fan Walk) has been given a complete design overhaul and now serves as both a resource centre for the design trade and a place of inspiration for the public. It features a number of themed décor exhibitions – designed by top South African creatives – that will change seasonally.

A key event at the Design Indaba Filmfest is a live cyber workshop with design-for-change guru, Bruce Mau, whose Massive Change Network is about developing real plans for design’s role in future change. Other documentaries include those about design duo Massimo and Lella Vignelli, Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino and Buckminster Fuller. 

In addition, the Cape Town Design Route 2011 map – the product of a creative partnership between Cape Town Tourism and Design Indaba and the third edition of its kind – will be launched at the event this year. The Cape Town Design Route includes Western Cape-based Design Indaba exhibitors, those into everything from fashion and shoes to dinnerware and toys, who have been approved by a curatorial panel of industry experts. Some examples of featured artists include: Inkheart Jewellery Design, a Cape Town-based studio offering handmade pieces inspired by childhood stories and memories; Township, a social enterprise of sewing cooperatives across the city which create colourful fabrics by hand, giving women in South Africa’s informal settlements means to sustainable economic empowerment; and Recreate, where junk items and old furniture are repurposed and recycled to craft original furniture and lighting.

Says Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, “Design is a pillar of our city’s unique identity, not only because we have inspiring and trendsetting creative industries, but also because we are committed to using design as a guiding principle in the creation of a city that is future-fit. Often, the word design is associated with glamour, luxury and exclusivity. In fact, socially responsive design is the key to a more sustainable future. Our bid to become World Design Capital 2014 is just one of the ways that Cape Town is staking its claim on the global design landscape and evolving into a top world city to live, work, visit, study and invest in.” 

World Design Capital is a title awarded every two years to a city that is dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development. The award is presented by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) based in Canada and focuses on developing a year-long programme of design-driven events. The 2010 recipient of the award was Seoul, with Helsinki set to be World Design Capital in 2012.

The City of Cape Town’s bid to be World Design Capital in 2014 is being coordinated by Cape Town Partnership, and the city will hear whether its bid has been successful before the end of the year. To drive support for the bid, Cape Town Tourism will be sponsoring a “Cape Town for World Design Capital 2014” stand at the Design Indaba Expo. 

Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana, managing director of Cape Town Partnership, believes that the bid will not only be important for Cape Town in the run up to the announcement, but also well beyond. “The bid book is proving to be a valuable resource and we are looking for a way to turn it into a public working document for the creative industries post the bid. Also, irrespective of whether or not Cape Town is World Design Capital in 2014, the process of bidding and in particular the educational process that is going on towards exposing design in all its relevance to the public, will go a long way in driving Cape Town towards achieving its goal of becoming a knowledge economy.”

For more information on the Design Indaba, visit

For more information on the city’s 2014 World Design Capital bid, visit


For further information, please contact Cape Town Tourism’s PR and Communication Manager Skye Grove at, +27 (0)21 487 6800, or see

Released for Cape Town Tourism by
Rabbit in a Hat Communications
Tammy White
+27 (0)21 448 9705
+27 (0)73 202 5041

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