Brand Activations at the 2014 Design Indaba Expo



Among the hundreds of independent designers showing at Design Indaba Expo are the big brand sponsors who play a key role in making the annual event such a success. These are the exhibits, installations or activations by brands at this year’s expo and a little explanation of how they’re using spaces like these to connect with a design-minded audience.


Big name retailer Woolworths explored the theme ‘Make Your Mark’ with an installation honouring the idea that the craft of design professionals is instrumental in shaping positive change in society. The bold yellow X, the icon of their 2014 theme, is a nod to the arrival of election year in South Africa and is symbolic of the energy each of us puts into designing the world we want to live in.


Along with design, education is a core focus for Woolworths. Making the Difference through Design is an annual design competition and resource guide that was introduced in January 2006, when the new Further Education and Training (FET) Design course launched in Western Cape schools, for Grade 10 learners and their teachers. The project is spearheaded by Woolworths and the Education Department and developed in collaboration with Design Indaba. South African-based paper giant Sappi sponsors the paper and the competition element, as well as providing case studies for the guide.








With the help of MINI ambassadors – DJ Euphonik, DJ Fresh, Seth  Rotherham, Good Luck and Goldfish – MINI SA invited fans to create an original old school/new school mashup by getting down on the sound floor, ‘Dance Evolution’ style. Expo visitors could make their own track by stomping to motion sensors and then share their track  on Facebook and Twitter.


The Design Indaba team also created a recording studio out of the MINI Countryman’s interior-setting, the optimal scene for interviews with some of the design greats in town for the Conference. The videos will be shared on the Design Indaba website and social media platforms for design enthusiasts to watch.












Did you know Nando’s owns the largest collection of South African art in the UK boasting over 3000 pieces in its restaurants? Original South African art can be seen on the walls of Nando’s restaurants back home too. At Design Indaba this year, Nando’s demonstrated the attention they pay to design detail with a two-part stand, featuring both the artistic and musical elements of their restaurants.


The Nando’s Art Initiative is headed up by Kirsty Niehaus, who says, “Nando’s art initiative focuses on discovering emerging South African artists and showcasing them to the general public. We work together with Jeanetta Blignaut to discover exciting talent, and all of our restaurants showcase original South African art in contrast to the majority of chains who feature the same, mass-produced designs, no matter where you are. In fact, we are working towards creating the world’s largest gallery. Each Nando’s store brings art closer and more accessible to the public.”


Leanne Morais, Nando’s General Manager: Brand engagement and innovation, added, “In keeping with our African Portuguese origins, we have worked together with Adsat, one of our internal communications agencies, to create an Afro-Luso playlist that is featured in Nando’s restaurants all over the world, ensuring that, even with your eyes closed, you can both hear and smell our authentic Nando’s flavor.”










One of Indaba’s main brand associations is with beer brand Grolsch who chose the opportunity to host an interactive extension of their current design competition, “Creative Headspace” – also known as the top of the Grolsch draught glass. The four winning, crowd-sourced designs will be printed onto limited edition glasses, and the designers will win an iPad Mini.


Grolsch Facebook Banner-how to enter-02






For their 2014 Design Indaba campaign, bank Absa launched Make Think Become DID – an initiative which aims to help you take your idea and run with it. To participate, Conference delegates downloaded the DRD app, contemplated a few problems that Absa put forward to help generate ideas, and then shared their problem-solvers. The DID team of illustrators then illustrated the best ideas in a conceptual drawing. These sketches were printed in the DID store onto merchandise including t-shirts, cellphone covers and cushions. Every day during the conference, an idea was chosen as the daily prize winner and, with the help of IDESO, will have a technical drawing made up which is ready to be taken to a manufacturer. The daily prize winners went into a draw for the grand prize of prototype development and trademarking.


The Absa stand at the Expo showcased a few innovative product ideas as inspiration.








Adams & Adams is a leading South African law firm specialising in intellectual property law, in addition to providing general commercial legal services. As a DI partner, they sponsored a cash prize of R50 000 for the Design Indaba 2014 Innovation Award which was awarded to Shonaquip, a social enterprise committed to improving the quality of life of people living with severe disabilities through appropriate seating devices and services. Their exhibition at the Expo consisted of sharing the products and stories of designers they represent. 





MTN is a company that is technologically driven, that sponsors the Design Indaba itself as well as the Wi-Fi at the Conference. Tweets, posts, Instagram messages, emails and surfing the web all emit CO2. In collaboration with Promethium, the CO2 emissions for various devices, screens and data usage at the Conference were calculated, and MTN has committed to offset these. In addition to this, MTN will track the usage of #designindaba, all other related Design Indaba hashtags and @designindaba and offset the CO2 created by any shares using that hashtag or handle. The MTN Design Indaba Expo stand housed a variety of seeds that visitors could collect and plant in order to offset their CO2 footprint at home. The MTN stand also provided charging stations and interactive counters in the form of touch screens.





The City of Cape Town was also present at Design Indaba Expo presenting a beautifully illustrated stand by Knolc that invited visitors to discover through videos how design-led thinking is changing our city.







More at




Comments are closed.