News and Trends

Laura Robinson

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? It provides us with an opportunity to showcase the enormous amount of creative energy that we have here, not only in Cape Town, but also in the country and the rest of Africa. World Design Capital 2014 also gives our creative community the opportunity of exposing their work on an internationally recognised platform. It is really exciting! What is your interpretation of the theme, 'Live Design. Transform Life', and how would you like to see it unfold in the months ahead? For me this about using intelligent design to improve the quality of life for all South Africans. Design is not just about making 'pretty' things but about being innovative when looking at problems and ways of solving them, be they how we make services accessible to those communities that lack them, how we introduce improvements into public spaces to make them safer and more enjoyable places to be, or simply designing and making a great piece of furniture. Technological innovation is also part of design and certainly makes a huge contribution to transforming life and life-styles. What are your thoughts on the general quality of submissions thus far? There has been quite a mixed bag of submissions so far, some are really exciting whilst others not so, and many are product-based, which is understandable. There are a large number that have ideas or elements in common and we will look at how these proposals could possibly be linked. It is difficult to know what the expectations of some of the applicants are, that is, what they want to see happen with their proposals in the course of the year and how WDC2014 can meet these expectations and accommodate a wide variety of projects and proposals. We need to make the second call for proposals clearer and tighter so that applicants are in a position to better understand the parameters of WDC2014 and what it can and cannot accommodate. As a curator, which of the four sub themes resonates most with you personally? This is a tricky one, as the two themes that really resonate for me are 'African Innovation, Global Conversation', and 'Bridging The Divide'. I really like the concept of including the African continent and showcasing the unique quality of design solutions emanating from here, but Bridging the Divide is so relevant to all of us in South Africa right now and my own field of expertise, heritage, is situated firmly within this category. So, I have to say that these two do it for me! Are there any particular (or types of) projects or events that you would especially like to see come to fruition in 2014? I would like to see projects relating to the design of open space and improving the general urban environment implemented, particularly in the townships, as these will have a positive impact on the lives of the people of Cape Town. There are quite a few opportunities to introduce new and exciting venues that can showcase events, exhibitions and activities as well. Proposals around urban agriculture and gardens are amongst my personal favourites. There are a couple of submissions that I find really amazing, but I can't go into detail yet… What do you hope will be the lasting impact on the city and/or the country post 2014? There has always been the intention that the projects and programs of 2014 will act as a legacy for the City in the future. Some of the projects may only be initiated during the course of next year and will develop over time and become self-sustaining. If all that we do is to engage people with design in its broadest context - and make it more accessible - I think that 2014 will have had a major impact. Qualified as an architect, Laura is now the CEO of the Cape Town Heritage Trust and past President of the Cape Institute for Architecture. Apart from her knowledge on heritage, she also has experience in assessing urban design and town planning proposals. She was the convener to the panel for the design of the Sarah Baartman Centre of Memory in the Eastern Cape and has worked extensively in international heritage related projects. Get your copy of the July 2013 issue of House and Leisure for an overview on WDC2014.