News and Trends

Joel Merris

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 What, for you, are the most significant and/or exciting implications for Cape Town as a World Design Capital? We live in exciting times, in a Global Village that presents many opportunities for both personal and collective growth and offers every individual the opportunity to make a difference to the world we live in. Design has always, for me, been an opportunity to affect constructive change and influence the world we live in positively. I have never been a fan of 'design for the sake of design' - creative ideas that are an expression of an individual's personal aspirations. Effective design has always made an impact on me, design that carries a message or has a function, a purpose, an ability to make a positive contribution. World Design Capital 2014 offers Cape Town and the world such an opportunity, to create and design and make the world a better place. The WDC2014 vision: Building social inclusion, reconnecting the city in structure and in spirit, and repositioning Cape Town for the global knowledge economy. It speaks to the very essence of effective design: making a difference and creating solutions. What is your interpretation of the theme, 'Live Design. Transform Life', and how would you like to see it unfold in the months ahead? My participation on the WDC2014 Curatorial Panel is based twofold: on my passion for design and my love and appreciation of Cape Town. Born in Cape Town on 15 November 1972, I am both old enough to understand the mistakes of the past and young enough to appreciate the challenges of the future. I would like to see 'design' and 'design thinking' play a significant roll in effecting change and solving many of the problems and challenges that we face in our city on a daily basis. What are your thoughts on the general quality of submissions thus far? Cape Town is a hive of creative talent, and the submissions so far have reflected this. However, there is an obvious void in the submissions so far, as many of our leading designers have not submitted entries. We are really looking for that wow factor, something really special. I am sure these will come through in the second call for submissions/entries on 1 July 2013. As a curator, which of the four sub themes resonates most with you personally? What we have seen from the first submissions is that the themes often start to merge when one looks at the submissions in greater detail. But for me, 'Bridging The Divide' resonates most with my desire to see design effect constructive change in our city, and offers a huge opportunity to leave a real legacy beyond 2014. Are there any particular (or types of) projects or events that you would especially like to see come to fruition in 2014? I think that any projects or events that have the potential to leave a legacy beyond 2014 and have the ability to effect positive change would tick all the boxes for me. What do you hope will be the lasting impact on the city and/or the country post 2014? I think that if there is a general recognition and realisation that 'design' or 'design thinking' can change the world and make it a better place, then that would be a lasting legacy for me. As the Creative Director and founding member of Liquid Crystal Design Studio, Joel is a corporate branding expert. He has worked on various award-winning brands in the design and advertising fields and is highly experienced in graphic design, industrial design and advertising. He believes that design should have function, purpose and the ability to make a positive contribution. Get your copy of the July 2013 issue of House and Leisure for an overview on WDC2014.