News and Trends

Joy Ezeka

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?

Cape Town as the World Design Capital 2014 is going to challenge all of us to engage in a search for solutions that will create a long lasting, positive change. One of the major challenges we have failed to address in Africa is the death of passion for a meaningful life, in today's generation. There's been a decline of self-motivation, not just in today's youth but adults too. There does not seem to be a passion for life or respect for life and the lives of others, and we find a lot of people wasting away life at an alarming rate. I believe the World Design Capital's prestigious status bestowed on Cape Town and the process leading to the 2014 programmes will address this challenge. Some insights that will emerge will uncover opportunities that were not evident.

What is your interpretation of the theme, 'Live Design. Transform Life', and how would you like to see it unfold in the months ahead?

'Live Design. Transform Life' is not just a theme but also a design challenge: 'How might we live design and transform lives'? We constantly talk about designing a better future. But I don't see how we can do that when we might have no one in the future to carry the torch of change to the next generation. How can we preach change when around us there is no passion for life and what it holds and when we personally are not empathetic? So, 'Live Design. Transform Life' is a design challenge that will enable us to develop empathy for our community and gain a deep understanding of each other's needs and challenges. It is a theme I hope, that will make each and every one of us, look within ourselves and see how we can do better in our approach, to how we interact with each other and our environment. Lee Lacocca said: 'The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind'. Until we are able to stand in the shoes of others, only then, can we be part of designing a better future.

What are your thoughts on the general quality of submissions thus far?

The quality of the first call of submissions has been good, but it could be better. There needs to be an awareness of the term 'design'. Unfortunately many of us think of design in narrow terms. Design needs to be viewed as a process, a tool used to create solutions for any problem.  All these are tangibles of design thinking. This kind of thinking opens the gates of creativity.

As a curator, which of the four sub themes resonates most with you personally?

'Today For Tomorrow' is a theme after my own heart! 'Today for Tomorrow' is a theme that challenges social development. It will promote permanent social change, economic development, and community empowerment in our society. It is a theme that turns us from being passive to active change agents. I believe this theme will enable the city to inherit a number of projects that will develop after 2014 and help shape the future of Cape Town.

Are there any particular (or types of) projects or events that you would especially like to see come to fruition in 2014?

I look forward to seeing projects that will promote educational, experiential, and leadership programs that nurture and advance human development, literacy, and entrepreneurship thinking, especially amongst the youth. We need projects that are not aimed at challenging or undermining the education system but rather will use design-thinking principles to inspire youths to be innovative, equipping them with the tools and knowledge necessary to address these challenges and cultivate an environment that encourages pursuing dreams - but, most of all, converting passive youths to proactive contributors.

What do you hope will be the lasting impact on the city and/or the country post 2014?

WDC2014 will leave a legacy that will encourage us to constantly look around us and ask 'How Might We' questions, in approaching social, cultural and economic challenges. We need to get into the habit of stepping back and questioning everything; it's our first step in solving any problems. These deep questions will help us jump start the process that will inspire our imagination and challenge our thinking about new opportunities and ideas, which will lead us to create truly innovative and impactful solutions. But it has got to start with me first, and my observant and empathetic view of the world around me. Mahatma Gandhi said, 'Be the change you want to see in this world'. If I don't change first, I can't transform lives. We can only hope to reconnect the city in structure, in spirit and inspire change once the passion for the 'why' is being rejuvenated in this present day generation. It is said that curiosity breeds creativity. Until we are able to ask 'why', I believe only then will it improve our chances of designing a better future.

Joy worked as an art consultant for private collectors as managing director of Genesis1 in Nigeria. Her work also included managing artists, organising and curating exhibitions in the arts and furniture sector in Nigeria and Ghana. At the moment, she is working as a design strategist using Human Centered Design and Design Thinking in her approach to designing solutions for community challenges.

Get your copy of the July 2013 issue of House and Leisure for an overview on WDC2014.