Reflections from the Design Indaba


It always takes a few hours (at least) to be able to begin absorbing all the information and knowledge that has been parted to you during the Design Indaba conference. Yesterday I heard AdamsMorioka, Rick Valicenti, Dunne & Raby, Keith Helfet, Luyanda Mpahlwa, W+K Delhi, Stephen Burks, 5.5 Designers and Bruce Mau. Each speaker inspired me differently and from each, I learnt something new.  However there was a common thread that ran through each presentation and that was the question:

“What is design?” & “Who is a designer?”

To be brief, 5.5 designers explained this by answering it as a direct question perfectly, but first a bit of background to their answer: When 5.5 Designers spoke they explained how they are involved, by chance or not, in each part of the design process (from the brief to the developed concept or products ‘after’ use). For example, one my favourite projects they showed was where they did not ‘design’ the product but rather went to the factory and used their design knowledge combined with the expert skills of the floor factory workers – some who had worked there for more than 40 years perfecting a simple technique. The outcome was amazing (see project 2005 Ouvriers).

5.5 Designers also explained another project where they designed a product for mass market and 10 days before the launch, the project was canceled and all the produced products were going to be destroyed. Rather than see this extreme waste, they created an event selling these products for only 1 Euro each (see project 2008 save a product). This is creative thinking outside the boundaries of traditional design.
Their answer to the above question went something like this: “If I am in the factory making or on the street selling the product it does not matter. We do it all, whatever and where ever I am needed. It does not matter. If that is what you call a designer then that is what I am. But I don’t know.”

For me this explained it wonderfully. No longer is design dedicated to one specialized skill. Design is really all about being interdisciplinary. Design today has no boundaries and is where ever creative thinking is required.

0 thoughts on “Reflections from the Design Indaba

  1. Steffi says:

    Sounds like a great and interesting event !Nice pictures.I find the pic of the cup funny.It´s nice to hear that you learnt there a lot!
    Have a nice weekend!