It’s a good thing Design Indaba takes place at the beginning of each year, providing ample food for thought for the months ahead. Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo has called 2018’s programme the best yet in the conference’s 23-year history.
Naidoo meets with each potential speaker personally before confirming them for the line-up, no matter where they hail from. In most cases, the Design Indaba team plans the speaker list two to three years in advance, so you know that who you’re about to listen to has been carefully considered and expertly curated. They’re top of their game in the fields of product design, set design or research, and the places where genres overlap and new discoveries are being revealed. They’re world-changers and, most importantly, willing to share their knowledge.
At Design Indaba, inspiration can come from unexpected places: a copywriter in the audience can find themselves moved by the work of an architect, a filmmaker inspired by a fashion designer. So while all the speakers are worthy of your attention, these are the ones we’re most excited to see at Design Indaba 2018.
Wednesday 21 February 2.20pm
Lonny van Ryswyck is the co-founder of Eindhoven-based Atelier NL in the Netherlands. Through its innovative and organic product design, the studio aims to showcase the richness of the earth and the value of local raw materials by transforming them into tangible, everyday objects. Atelier NL’s collaborative art project A World of Sand calls for people to submit samples of sand from all corners of the globe, which is then melted down into a series of glassware items – a veritable atlas of objects.
Wednesday 21 February 3.45pm
The renowned British architect behind the extraordinary Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) building, Thomas Heatherwick is a creative whose ideas defy convention and embrace invention. As lead designer of Heatherwick Studio, his projects are realised in collaboration with a team of more than 180 architects, designers and makers across four continents.
Wednesday 21 February 1.40pm
For a period of two years on Twitter, Morag Myerscough tweeted about her mood twice a day, using only colour. This artist’s boldly patterned and brightly hued public scaffold structures and installations breathe energy into cities and buildings such as hospitals, schools and libraries. Myerscough’s mantra is ‘make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come’. Her works have been viewed across the world from Mexico City to her hometown of London. For many of her structural art projects, she collaborates with Luke Morgan as part of the creative collective Supergroup London.
Thursday 22 February 9.15am
SWINE is an acronym for Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers, a collaboration between Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves. The work they produce explores materials and future resources facing globalisation and modern industrialisation. For their ranges of experimental products and furniture, they’ve worked with materials from Amazonian rubber to human hair. SWINE’s most recent project ‘New Spring’ is an interactive, multisensory tree-like installation for clothing brand COS. Mist-filled ‘blossoms’ fall from the sculpture and disappear on contact with skin, but can be caught by viewers wearing a special kind of glove.
Thursday 22 February 3.55pm
Self-taught product designer Tom Dixon rose to prominence in the 1980s for his welded salvage furniture. He became a household name in the ’90s, and set up his eponymous design studio in 2002, which is now an international company specialising in lighting, furniture and accessories. This became the platform from which he produced the iconic designs for Mirror Ball, Copper Shade, Wingback Chair and Beat and Melt lights. Tom Dixon stores are located in England, the US and Hong Kong, and the interior design studio has envisioned spaces for notable hotels and restaurants.
Friday 23 February 3.50pm
Es Devlin is a British set designer working in theatre, fashion, music and dance. Her larger-than-life designs have lit up stages and arenas for the likes of singers Kanye West, Beyoncé, Jay Z and Adele. The scale of her work ranges from sets in small, experimental theatres to the opening ceremony at the Rio Olympics and the closing ceremony at the London Olympics. She also presents installation artworks in solo exhibitions, her most recent being ‘The Singing Tree’ at the V&A Museum in London.