News and Trends

Strijdom van der Merwe

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? The focus and the emphasis of the world's eyes will be on Cape Town during 2014 as a leader and trendsetter in the world of design, especially in terms of Cape Town and South Africa's unique situation. But it will also stretch far beyond 2014 and benefit the city and the country as a whole. It will establish and implement projects that will benefit the community through design. What is your interpretation of the theme, 'Live Design. Transform Life', and how would you like to see it unfold in the months ahead? We know by now that good design can transform people's lives not only socially but also economically. It can uplift communities that have struggled to overcome social political burdens. By means of good design we can lower stress levels, create a safe environment and expose people to a safer working environment that will have the benefit of a more positive mindset. What are your thoughts on the general quality of submissions thus far? We have to realise that we are dealing here with design for a unique and specific situation, and that we mustn't be drawn into the pitfall of comparing with European needs. Many of the submissions address local problems and it's wonderful to see how design is being implemented to change lives and standards of living. As a curator, which of the four sub themes resonates most with you personally? Obviously as an artist I'm interested in the 'Beautiful Spaces and Beautiful Things' theme and would want to see design being implemented to expose the general public to 'beauty' and through that, establish a community that is sensitive and appreciative. But on the other hand, going through the many submissions that address the urgent need in our community towards design that can change the lives of the majority of working people, I do realise that in this unique South African situation we have to find a balance between what is practical and what are just beautiful spaces and things. Are there any particular (or types of) projects or events that you would especially like to see come to fruition in 2014? The projects that will make the lives easier for the general public by implementing design, bridging the gap between the divide, and creating a community of understanding and sharing. What do you hope will be the lasting impact on the city and/or the country post 2014? A better understanding of the important role design plays in our daily routines and to create a standard set of rules and platform to continue maintaining this for years to come. Artist, sculptor and graphic artist, Strijdom is well known for his forays into landscape art. Before becoming a fulltime artist, Strijdom lectured in computer graphics. He is the recipient of various awards, residencies and accolades and he is widely published on various themes, including arts and sustainability. Get your copy of the July 2013 issue of House and Leisure for an overview on WDC2014.