Design Indaba to showcase World Design Capital 2014 bid

With excitement mounting towards this year’s Design Indaba Conference (February 23 to 25) and Expo (February 25 to 27) at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), visitors are in for a myriad creative events and exhibits.

A core feature of our city and a strong economic driver for the future, the creative industries have been top of mind over the past months, featuring in many editorial and radio campaigns, as the City of Cape Town moves swiftly towards submitting its bid for Cape Town as World Design Capital (WDC) 2014.

It’s fitting, then, that the first stand to capture your attention as you enter the exhibition hall at Design Indaba will be the WDC 2014 exhibit.

The bid theme is “Live Design. Transform Life”. The exhibit, generously sponsored by Cape Town Tourism and managed in partnership with the Cape Town Partnership’s Creative Cape Town programme, will be a driver for support for the bid as it heads towards its March submission date.

The stand itself will feature presentations of organisations and individuals already supporting the bid and will offer the public a glimpse into how design is reconnecting our city – a city disconnected mentally, spiritually and physically for many decades before democracy.

2014 is thus a significant year in the history of both Cape Town and South Africa as we will be celebrating 20 years of democracy, but hopefully also the title of World Design Capital in honour of the many ways in which design has been used to transform life.

The City of Cape Town has mandated the Cape Town Partnership to coordinate Cape Town’s 2014 bid, and already a vital network of partners from local and provincial government, creative industry organisations and institutions, the media, and leaders in local design have come together to lend support for the initiative.

Through the Design Indaba Expo, the public are now also being invited to lend their support to the bid by writing on the floor of the stand and leaving their own thoughts on what makes Cape Town a design capital. The best messages will be included in the bid book.

The world-renowned Design Indaba is one of the major events showcasing the essence of innovation in the city. It plays a major part in positioning Cape Town as a creative capital and the WDC 2014 exhibit gives the public an interactive view of how design plays a part in every aspect of our lives.

Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariëtte du Toit-Helmbold enthuses about our bid for WDC 2014 and its impact on Cape Town: “Design was used in the past to separate the people of the city – to disconnect and divide. We are now seeing how design is reconnecting the people of the city.  Cape Town is acknowledged as a creative city with inspirational projects, and this is a vital tourism tool that will add to the many reasons people should visit our city.”

Zayd Minty of Creative Cape Town, who is also a member of the bid team, elaborates: “Design thinking is emerging in all areas of design – design that is increasingly socially responsive and contextually relevant. Design is an important part of our economy and Cape Town is on the threshold of change. We are therefore very keen for the people of the city to add their voice to the bid process, and they can do so by visiting the stand.”

World Design Capital is a biennial award bestowed by the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID), based in Canada, to cities that use design for their social, economic and cultural development.

A World Design Capital designation gives a winning city global focus during a year-long programme of design-led events. Previous winners have included Torino, Italy (2008) and Seoul, South Korea (last year’s title-holder) while Helsinki, Finland will be World Design Capital in 2012.

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Design Indaba runs from 25 to 27 February at the CTICC


Editor’s notes

Who are we up against?

Other cities currently in the running for the 2014 title are reportedly Bilbao, Dublin and a number of Chinese cities. However, it is believed that the ICSID is looking for a city from a developing country for the 2014 title, and Cape Town is well-placed with its bid theme of “Live Design. Transform Life” to take the title.

What is the theme of “Live Design. Transform Life” all about?

The design story at the heart of Cape Town’s bid is about the city’s use of design to overturn the negative legacies of its colonial and apartheid pasts, which saw design dividing people, disconnecting the city, and relegating both people of colour and the urban poor to the fringes of the city.

It denied these people equitable access to resources and opportunities, and in turn denied them access to making their own contributions to a better city. This legacy also made the country a pariah in the eyes of the world, and excluded it from many opportunities to engage in the globalising economy.

Over the last 20 years, we have started to “live” our theme for this bid: we have begun to use design across all sectors to transform lives and make the reconnections. 

We’ve seen significant positive change not only in Cape Town but in South Africa as a whole – an increased self-confidence, economic growth, better infrastructure and the repositioning of us as a place that can deliver.

Cape Town has in particular begun to be seen by many as a city of inspiration and has begun to shine as a creative city. Through the many processes that design embraces, we are therefore rebuilding, reconnecting and repositioning ourselves as a city.

How are we becoming a design city?

A growing common vision for Cape Town is one of the city as inclusive, innovative, entrepreneurial, sustainable and African.

It is a realisable vision: in terms of being a design city, we have begun to see evidence of design thinking emerging in all areas of design – design that is increasingly socially responsive and contextually relevant. New urban design and architecture is transforming neglected spaces in to habitable places, industrial design is finding solutions for our specific needs through products and services, while graphic, product and surface design is increasingly finding a local voice.

In other words, Cape Town’s bid and its theme will focus on the way Cape Town has been using design to reconnect people on a multitude of levels: through projects such as the IRT, public spaces, the dark fibre network, research and design being conducted at educational institutions, and even how our calendar of major public events draws on the talents of designers, their networks and design programmes to incorporate as wide a citizen base as possible. 

It will also look at public architecture, as well as art and memorialisation.

What is the benefit of the bid to Cape Town?

Bidding for World Design Capital 2014 is our city’s opportunity to use the energy of our present to re-imagine and reposition ourselves as a city that can use design to overcome its past, reconnect as people and take us into a new future – a city poised to make an impact economically and socially.

It’s also about far more than just the bid: It’s about using the bid to mobilise people around design, to bring it into the public arena, and to show support for our local design industries, well beyond the bidding process or even 2014.

Irrespective of whether or not we win the bid, the process is allowing us to put Cape Town and South African designers and design-led projects into the public domain, so that citizens can also begin to understand the impact design can have on a city’s development.

What are the steps towards the bid?

The first step in the bidding process is the preparation of a bid Book to be submitted to the ICSID by the end of March. Two cities will then be shortlisted by end-2011, and the winning city announced by end-2012. The winning city then has a year of preparation ahead of it before 2014 and towards the raising of sponsorship, the planning of a year-long programme of dedicated and associated events, and public education and mobilisation.


For more information please contact:
Carola Koblitz
Cape Town Partnership Manager: Communications Operations
10th Floor, The Terraces, 34 Bree Street, Cape Town
Tel: +27 21 419 1881
Fax: +27 21 419 0894

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