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small is MASSIVE! Open Design Afrika Calls On AFRICANS & The World To Action Small Seeds Of Change Everywhere

In a world characterised by transition, change and adaptation, the role of design should never be understated. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and vast changes in everyday life, Open Design Afrikan (ODA) is stepping up to the challenge through presenting its 8th annual, and first fully virtual festival.

Recommitting to its mission to focus on humanity and celebrate the power of design and creativity that effect systemic change, increase Afrikan value and pride and ignite and unlock new Afrikan ideas and solutions, the festival, which takes place from 27 to 31 October could not be more timely. Built on the axes of thriving and resilient communities, relevant education and appropriate innovation & technology that adds significance and true meaning, the 2020 festival programme is a diverse mix of Afrikan and global stories, networking, interactive sessions and workshops. Driven by a collaborative and holistic ethos, and a free-to-access model, the festival promises an open and inclusive environment to showcase and celebrate Design champions, unsung heroes, changemakers and the power and potential of Afrika through creativity and design-led innovation that improves lives and our environments.


Designing a thriving future world for all


Since 2013, Founder and Executive Director of Open Design Afrika Suné Stassen has driven the programme with an optimistic, mindful, solutions-driven an inclusive approach. As the visionary behind the new-established virtual platform, she explains the ODA value in the following way: “We have for years succeeded in engineering an unjust and often destructive world for living in. We believe that in solidarity we have the capacity and the ability to design the exact opposite but then we have to shift our priorities to develop relevant future skills and creative intelligence. We must invest wisely inappropriate human capital that’s underpinned by empathy and emotional intelligence, agility, resourcefulness, holistic and critical thinking, future skills that are optimised and underpinned by creativity. To succeed in the future, it will be imperative to invest equally in humanity and technology.


This balance will be crucial for humanity, our planet and circular economies to flourish in. The time is now to write the most important design brief since our existence: we need to design and develop new world orders and strategies for inclusive and appropriate education, systems, services, flourishing environments, prosperous circular economies and human cities so that we can collectively design our preferred futures and deliver on the demands of the future with purpose and agility. If we collectively action small seeds of change everywhere then small suddenly becomes MASSIVE!”

Free and inclusive access for all


Sponsored by National Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and the V&A Waterfront, purpose and agility sit at the heart of this year’s festival. “The V&A Waterfront’s aim is to provide a platform that can facilitate and champion art and design, support entrepreneurship and innovation, lead the charge of sustainability and drive social and economic change. Companies who work with and engage with communities and respect the environment are more productive while remaining humane. We are proud of our association with Open Design Afrika. The partnership allows us to equip future problem-solvers and change-makers with the skills they need to become tomorrow’s business leaders.”- says CEO of the V&A Waterfront, David Green.

According to The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, the Open Design Afrika festival is one that drives the promise of critical change. “We see this as an important, indeed urgent intervention into our world. The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture is fully aware of the challenges of our current world and equally the potential that can be unlocked through collaborative platforms such as these. We are encouraged to see that Open Design Afrika is taking a hands-on approach to building a South Africa we can all be proud of.”

While the Open Design Afrika Virtual Festival will be live-streamed from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, access for a global and local audience will be entirely virtual. In addition to adhering to COVID19 safety protocols and to still create accessibility also to marginalized communities who have always been a vital audience to include, ODA has negotiated with a few partners like TooMuchWifi, Stellenbosch Academy in Cape Town and KNUST in Ghana as well as a few others in Africa, to set up strong Wi-Fi locations in different communities. In line with a focus on a multi-level, truly convivial programme, these measures aim to ensure that a number of people from marginalized communities can still be fully integrated and engaged in the discussions and workshops. This is a small but important start to help democratize participation, knowledge sharing, networking and collaboration, which is a significant move away from global trends which alienate poorer communities from design and design events especially for those who under current circumstances can’t afford mobile data or Wi-Fi.

What’s on offer: Thinking, designing, touching lives, sharing, action!


Despite being a digital offering, the ODA 2020 programme will be as robust as in previous years. The 5-day festival includes activities focused on key themed days, namely: Afrika is Rising Day, Global Inspiration Day, Future-ready Skills with Heads, Hands and Hearts Day, Afrika Stories Open Day and Family Makers Day.


The series of dialogues, workshops and virtual coffee networking sessions will bring together a global audience with inspirators and creatives from across the Afrikan continent and the world. The festival program is geared towards ODA’s “pledge to design a better world” and promise participants critical and insightful discussions and takeaways about the present, the future, and the disruption, hacking, skills and resources required to bridge them.

In addition to these exciting and valuable discussions and networking opportunities, participants will also have the opportunity to get (virtually) hands-on through a series of demonstrations, workshops, and DIY elements at the Family Makers Day. This part of the programme strongly emphasises collective learning through playing and doing. Utilising hands-on making, tech and games, this is
intended to be a creative makers experience to change mindsets, develop new insights and future skills, for the whole family in the comfort of their homes. A few makers experiences will also be hosted at the V&A Waterfront at Workshop17 for families who want to attend. Makers experiences are important building blocks to develop future skills and to ignite design-led innovation that can drive the
design of future Afrikan cities and lifeworlds.

“Investing in the integration of creativity across all curricula will strike a much-needed balance in developing the whole brain. It is not only crucial to create conducive, playful and inclusive learning environments but also to develop creative and emotional intelligence, nurture critical thinking and problem seeking and solving capabilities, design thinking and other future skills; doing so is imperative to unlock and optimise new potential in all children, change mindsets and behaviour, which will empower and enable them to develop new aspirations to design their preferred futures,” says Stassen.

General access tickets for Open Design Afrika 2020 are free. Find more information here.



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