Let us tell you a story äóñ insights from Indaba

March 25th, 2015

Last month Cedar SA attended the Design Indaba conference held at the CTICC in Cape Town. Here’s a sample of the stimulating mix of thoughts and ideas we came away with and want to share…

Once upon a time (1995 to be exact) a man with a vision, Ravi Naidoo organised a two-day creative conference, the Design Indaba, featuring 11 speakers and a handful of delegates. With the internet beginning to impinge in a big way, speakers discussed the effects of technology on our world.


Fast forward two decades to the 20th annual Design Indaba with over 3,000 delegates from 18 different countries; 36 local and international speakers, plus multi-city simulcasts in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Potchefstroom. Legends have graced the Indaba stage over the decades and this year they included the 84-year old doyenne of the zigzag, Rosita Missoni; Wieden+Kennedy co-founder and Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ man, Dan Wieden and SA’s world-renowned artist, William Kentridge.

Indaba has always been about the stories – and this year was no exception – it’s just how they get told that changes…

A change will do you good

#makechange was the theme this year and many speakers told stories around how to get things done and make change despite the odds, not only in Africa but worldwide, too.

Agency Joe Public’s Growthn adage ‘ideas will never work unless you try it’ is not only woven through their work for the likes of Nike and SA insurance company Dial Direct, but also initiatives such as Project English for One School At A Time which addresses SA’s education problems as a result of English being taught as a second language.

Photographer Omar Victor Diop’s Project Diaspora recreates European artists’ historic works but tells a more modern-day story referencing soccer (the sport where Africans have achieved the most recognition) whilst confronting racism. Plans to widen this project into Asia, the Americas and Middle East are in the pipeline.

Spanish guerrilla architect, Santiago Cirugeda reclaims (often without permission) urban spaces for the public – his rapidly built Recetas Urbanas’ buildings, often made from recycled components, need to match the materials available to the skills of those keen to build them – even roping in those for whom he’s building. These subversive, often ugly, projects serve a purely social function, aesthetic is not key.

Everything’s beautiful (in its own way)

Third-time speaker and MC, Michael Beirut of Pentagram reminded us of the simpler pleasures in life and showed us the use of gothic typeface (and humour) for branding ofCathedral Church of St John the Divine and the simplification of a city on the maps ofWalkNYC. Watch out for the upcoming book How to from Michael which will cover 35 inspirational projects.

Dominic Wilcox treats playfulness dreadfully seriously. Commissioned by Global Footprint to create some shoes, his innate curiosity had him produce the world’s first pair of GPS shoes that guide the wearer to any destination knowing that even if the tech broke you would still be able to use the shoes. For a transport exhibition he designed and built a stained glass driverless sleeper car.

Video killed the radio star

Digital product design studio, The Workers like to challenge technology in surprising ways, the most well known project to date was opening up Tate Britain to the world via a live website, which allowed anyone to queue for control of one of four robots roaming the museum at night. Imagine exploring 500 years of British art with live commentary from the comfort of your own home?

YouTube filmmaker and internet celeb, Casey Neistat has made his mark by sharing mostly personal perspectives through video. With no formal training, he views advertising companies as being ‘nice places to visit and great places to rob’ and happily breaks all the rules.

Computer geek and rock musician, Yoni Bloch is CEO of YouTube challenging companyInterlude. Inspired by video games, decision trees and non-linear storytelling, Yoni and his fellow musicians created a technology that transforms the way we watch video, demonstrated perfectly in the seamless multi-universe interactive film Possibilia, that premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Their version of Bob Dylan’s Like a rolling stone lets viewers switch through 16 fictional TV channels where actors mouthed the lyrics. The 6.5-minute song got more than 70 million views and the average time spent was 18 minutes. Game changing or just another form of gamification?

With such a Smörgåsbord of storytelling examples at the Design Indaba this year, you’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite, or to resist being inspired by some of the world’s leading creative minds.

Sue Disler, Head of Digital, Cedar SA

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