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8 Design Indaba 2016 speakers we’re looking forward to most

Design Indaba turns 21 this year, with a swanky new home at Cape Town’s Artscape Theatre to boot. There’s a lot to look forward to during the 2016 Festival, which builds onto the flagship conference and simulcasts with a renewed format. For one, the FilmFest is screening across 5 cities for the first time, and there’s the addition of travelling exhibitions and a far-reaching programme for the Emerging Creatives.

Unsurprisingly, the lineup of talks is stellar as always, and we’ll be listening intently live from Cape Town and from the Jozi simulcasts. Follow us on Twitter for short bursts of inspiration from 17-19 February and keep an eye out for our post-conference field notes too. In the meantime, we’re making it our business to get to know the speakers a little better – these are some of the pioneering thinkers and makers we’re most excited for.

Storytelling meets design

Cecilia Martin and Klasien van de Zandschulp are part of the international creative agency with an explosive name: Lava. With strong roots in editorial design, the team (who are split between Amsterdam and Beijing) are trained to work as visual storytellers. They’ve done excellent work for Beijing Design Week, President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit, and the Istanbul Biennial. Through their Lava Lab they create a space for innovation, education and research by mixing strategy, design and technology – culminating in projects like the #GoldenAge learning app for the Amsterdam Museum, and a creative coding workshop with Squidsoup.

Lava - Design Indaba CT

Architects or artists?

Assemble Studios are an architectural collective treading the art and design worlds with flair – so much so, they snagged a Turner Prize last year and had their work praised by judges as offering “alternative models to how societies can work”. By championing a working practice that’s interdependent and collaborative, Assemble seeks to address the typical disconnection between the public and the process by which places are made. Two parts of the 18-strong team, Paloma Strelitz and James Binning will be at the Indaba to shed more light on the fascinating work they do. 

Assemble Studios

Designing Britain’s roads

Margaret Calvert is a South African-born, British typographer and graphic designer best known for the monumental job she and her colleague Jock Kinneir undertook over half a century ago: creating a new signage system for Britain’s roads. Last year, her and Jock’s iconic work was featured and reinterpreted in the exhibition, 50 Years of British Road Signs at the London Design Museum.


Cutting edge cuisine with old-school charm

Situated in the resort town of San Sebastián in Spain, Arsak is billed as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants (number 17 on the list, to be exact) and boasts an impressive 3 Michelin stars. Behind the restaurant building’s old-school façade lies an uncompromising commitment to innovation, combining inquisitiveness and rigour to remain on the cutting edge. Elena Arzak (who The Guardian named the best female chef on the planet) and her colleague Igor Zalakain will be at the conference to share their world of wondrous cuisine.

Arzak, 'Golden footprint and ladybird'

Garments for life underwater

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Vera de Pont is part of the Pecha Kucha lineup at DI. Her project Floaters of the Waterplanet is a materials and accesories forecast imagined for the inhabitants of an underwater planet. The garments are lightweright and foamy, and incorporate strong knits and cords to make the clothing water repellent. Vera’s otherworldly designs have even led to new production methods such as “gevacuümvormd” ­– a one step production process that removes the need for sewing.


Doing things differently

Dutch art director and collector Erik Kessels is the founder of KesselsKramer, “a company which aspires to do things differently in the field of communications”. As publishers of some of the most surprising, strange and interesting books and magazines around, each project aspires to find new ways of expressing creativity through printed matter. Famously, at the 2013 Rencontres d’Arles, Erik printed every image uploaded to Flickr in a 24-hour period, filling a room with an avalanche of imagery.

Erik Kessels - KesselsKramer

Solving spatial problems in the urban realm

Headed by Thomas Chapman since 2011, Local Studio is an architecture and urban design firm based in Brixton, Johannesburg. With every project the studio endeavours to cultivate a symbiosis with the surrounding community and public realm. In an interview with Design Indaba ahead of his talk, Thomas explained their ethos saying, “We place public space at the forefront of any design process; we are bold in our experimentation with new construction technologies in our pursuit to find lasting, cost-effective solutions to urban spatial problems. We are deeply concerned with the role that a building’s form and materiality can play in underdeveloped and under-managed contexts like former Apartheid townships and Johannesburg’s central business district.”


Modern day painters and image makers

London-based “modern day painters” Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones began their collaboration in 1998 through a shared fascination of the image-making process and the possibilities of combining photographic art form and digital domains. Their unique process of combining light and form with performance leads the viewer to share their landscapes of imagination. Their future/past philosophy informs levels of abstraction and mystery that resonate and challenge notions of Beauty and Fashion. The duo will be at the Indaba for a photography and film focussed talk.


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