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Christopher Swift


We're profiling six of the 38 World Design Capital 2014 curators, as well as the curator convener. Up until now, the curators have been sifting through the first wave of submissions and they're hoping to see more creative entries between 1 July and 31 July 2013. To submit your design initiative, visit wdccapetown2014.com. Here, we chat to curator, Christopher Swift. What, for you, are the most significant and/or exciting implications for Cape Town as a World Design Capital? When you think of design as an intelligence rather than just a pretty object or, maybe, an aesthetic building, then you realise the immense possibility the WDC year can stimulate, not just for the Mother City, but for the rest of the country, continent and even the globe... who sets the limits? When we realise design is an intelligence, we realise that it isn't exclusive, it isn't discriminatory - we all have potential for it and it can be developed. It doesn't have to manifest in the next iPhone, it can be as simple as a solution for a gutter system, food security, energy saving or to promote better communication. What is your interpretation of the theme, 'Live Design. Transform Life', and how would you like to see it unfold in the months ahead? Have you heard of 'the practice of theory'? There are some things that can't be known unless you test them out, fumble, exercise and make mistakes on your way to success. Living Design is also about the courage of getting out your head, out your office, out from behind your computer, out of your normal routine and being able to see things from a different point of view. If you want to make a change - experience the environment you want to make the change in. Live in the problem so that you can fully comprehend the issues and dynamics to most appropriately use the combination of all your faculties of brain, intuition, senses and communication to solve a challenge with design thinking. What are your thoughts on the general quality of submissions thus far? Varied, but with clusters of commonalities that would indicate a common consciousness. There's a realistic observation of challenges within the city, and an optimistic enthusiasm and hope in its remedy. As a curator, which of the four sub themes resonates most with you personally? You'd think as an artist, 'Beautiful Spaces. Beautiful Things' would be my first choice, but they all grab me strongly: 'African Innovation. Global Conversation', 'Bridging The Divide', 'Today For Tomorrow'. I can't really separate them, they all speak to the same point in me, which is - know where I come from, know where I want to go, what future I want my kids to inherit, and where do I add value? Are there any particular (or types of) projects or events that you would especially like to see come to fruition in 2014? Projects that inspire. Hope, belief and enthusiasm are very powerful mobilising energies. What do you hope will be the lasting impact on the city and/or the country post 2014? I hope WDC2014 will build on what the City of Cape Town and its people have already created, but that it will be the catalyst to getting many projects to their tipping points and converting cynicism to pride, disempowerment to responsibility, disenfranchised to unity, problem to challenge, and fear to hope. Christopher's career spans 22 years in design, advertising, business entrepreneurship, fine art, design education and, recently, solid waste. As an artist, he's interested in environmental issues, which often bring him to bear on socio-political issues in a developing country and the African continent. He believes that Africa sits on the brink of significant solutions for many of the world's problems and that South Africa is the gateway. Get your copy of the July 2013 issue of House and Leisure for an overview on WDC2014.