The Creative Hustle event, held at The Cape Town Creative Academy in Woodstock, ended in a discussion about how design is currently changing, or still expected to change the world. The audience, after listening to the five panelists explaining their own endeavours in design, were left a bit confused about how design actually is capable of changing the world. The answer, although complex, is simple: design is the act of solving problems and therefore it is actively and constantly changing the world.
The event was hosted by LIVE in connection with the British Council ZA and included five panelists, namely:
Greer Valley – discussed the importance of African aesthetics in design,
Mokena Makeka – explained the relationship between architecture and design,
Daniel Charny – developer of Fixperts, a project concerned with the process of design,
Zahira Asmal – using design to address democracy through civic engagement,
Jana Scholze – explores the relationship between design and fine art.
The aim of the event was to invite young people to receive career advice and to engage with industry professionals. The event was big enough for those who attended to be dispersed into the design world with new thoughts and ideas, but intimate enough for personal connections to be made with the panelists. The casual atmosphere did not extract any professionalism from the event as everything was well executed.
Each panelist addressed the audience (which consisted of approximately 70 young people) for a brief 8 minutes and time was included in the programme for people to engage with each of the panelists afterwards. In addition to the panel presentations, two students also pitched their design ideas to the audience who critiqued their ideas and made suggestions.
Greer Valley is an artist, designer and writer who travels to various African communities in search of inspiration for her designs. She is the co-owner of Kushn. From her experiences, she believes that “design is everywhere”. By visiting these communities, she is able to build relationships with the locals and through this relationship she is able to understand her own design process better. Her aim is to create products that are truly African by using local fabrics and textiles.
Another evident form of design is illustrated through architecture. Mokena Makeka, the founder of an architectural and urban design firm called Makeka Design Lab, explained that designers are just as important as architects in constructing development. “As a designer, you see the city as a canvas on which you can apply your vision”, he said. He carried on to discuss the importance of ensuring your designs have a purpose and are not merely aesthetically pleasing.
The third panelist, Daniel Charny, had been trained as an industrial designer but is currently the founder of a project called Fixperts which centres around turning creative skills into social change. He emphasizes his thoughts on what design is, saying: “Design is a process, not a product”. Fixperts invites young designers to record their designing or fixing processes and post the video online.
Something that we’re all consciously aware of is South Africa’s transition into democracy. Zahira Asmal shared her personal experiences of pre- and post-apartheid with the audience and urged us to think about how design still needs to address the concept of democracy. “I do believe that design can change the world, but not design alone”, the director of Designing_SouthAfrica said. She carried on to challenge young designers to create designs that are inclusive of all citizens, instead of continuing with the exclusive designs that were formed during apartheid.
In concluding the panelists’ presentations, Jana Scholze highlighted the relationship between fine art and design. As a curator of contemporary furniture at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK. Acknowledging the broad scope of design as an industry, she advises young people to find their passion and pursue it. In her field, she says that the aim is to see things in various ways.
The event was successful in initiating thoughts on what design actually means, as well as how it can change the world – whether it be in one huge step or in smaller, less noticeable ways. It could be concluded, by attending this event, that design is indeed seen everywhere – in the clothes we wear, the furniture that dress our homes, the bridges we walk over or even those signs on the beach that previously read “Slegs blankes”. In the words of Zahira Asmal, the best designs are not always the ones that we notice as they make life seamless and means they are working well.
Images: Masixole Feni and Ashleigh Swartz
In partnership with the British Council South Africa Connect ZA.