Design Indaba 2018: The Magic Moments

posted on March 2nd, 2018 by LISOF

The week of the Design Indaba 2018 felt like stuff out of the movies – you know, the kind that leaves you at the edge of your seat, star-struck-type vibes, gushing, groupie-like pandering? Yes, that type of insane admiration! Hosted at the LISOF Johannesburg campus, there was a true feeling of wonderment in every attendee who, in between watching various talks, got a glimpse of the way things are done at LISOF: which is to create a space for new design thinking and encourage the design process.

Photo by Anel Van Vuuren

Look – it was inspiring in many ways but in other ways, downright humbling. Almost an awakening of some sort – to the sheer realisation that your life/work is still, uhmm, errr…. let’s just say – a work in progress. That’s how I felt (pretty much) the entire week – as I played make-believe, feigning limp attempts to look relevant – like, I’ve got something to offer the world. Yes, that kind of grand, movie-star-like-confidence – the stomach–in-chest-out-Bheki Cele-type of moves, the fake-it-till-you-make-it kind?

I guess what I’m trying to say is – that’s the kind of effect the Design Indaba will have on you – making you feel like you matter. Day 3 allowed us to get access to a talk by set designer, Es Devlin who is on a first name basis (as you would, of course) with Beyonce, Kanye West, Rihanna, U2, Adele (need I say more) which is no small feat, right? This type of Hollywood stuff rubs off on you. The fabulous network of world shakers making an impact in their creative disciplines, meeting new people and mingling in your aspiring world and drawing inspiration from the gushing well of creative ingenuity is life-giving.

They make it look so easy though that you’d be deceived into thinking that they were hit by a stroke of luck from heaven above. But many talked, like Devlin, about their tireless efforts to hone their craft. Take Es on the third day, for instance (yes, yes, you tend to feel like you know them too on a first name basis) – talked about the lessons she learnt out of playing the violin in her younger years – that in fact, nothing comes easy. The idea of practise makes perfect in playing a musical instrument has become part of her own work ethic. Her interpretation of the briefs she gets from clients was a lesson in being adept in giving “artists a visual voice” as she calls her trade as well as having an acute understanding of their brand and public persona. This talented artist’s life was never the same after she came back from watching a live Boomtown Rats performance – she knew from that point on, that she wanted to translate visual manifestations for performers and THAT she does very well.

Many times, I couldn’t help wonder how on earth many of the speakers came up with the ideas they conjure up, how they make them come alive in ways, my brain has never done before. So great, so revolutionary, you start to believe you can walk on water.

Photo by Anel Van Vuuren

Another speaker I was in awe of, was Tomo Kihara, termed a playful interventionist and design researcher – did you know anything like this existed?! This is not the kind of thing they tell you about in career guidance classes, I can tell you that much. This young maverick was driven by a desire to tackle homelessness in the world (this kind, doesn’t think small) – so, if you are going to follow in the footsteps of this lot, small ideas won’t take you anywhere – think BIG, sky-size BIG. Kihara developed an alternative to begging, a prototype device called the “Street Debater.” This is a gadget designed to remove the negative feelings evoked by street begging (humiliation, lack of dignity, feeling invisible etc) creating engagement in the process of giving and being given money. Some of the activations of this device entailed using pictures of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump and a passer bye would have to predict using their money who will become President leading up to the American elections. A bit like begging with a purpose – this gadget sparks conversation and more importantly, overcomes social segregation whilst earning an unemployed and destitute person £135 per hour.

Photo by Anel Van Vuuren

That Design Indaba crowd were on top of their form last week showing you and me that in fact there’s a place for everyone in this world – from the faux movers and shakers like me, real, global and local thought leaders to our very own Joburg class of Emerging Creatives who already believe that the world, through their raw talent, is their oyster. LISOF provided the perfect venue to host all of the Design Indaba frenzy, to allow the artists to express themselves and attendees to wander through the campus inspired by the newest talent.

Photo by Anel Van Vuuren

Written by: Anda Ngani

Design Indaba 2018: The role of innovative design for social change

posted on February 23rd, 2018 by LISOF

Hard times require us to dig deep – sometimes it means digging into our creative minds, imagining the impossible. This is what we experience in the innovations of designers on the second day of the Design Indaba 2018. Kenyan user experience designer, Mark Kamau and Renata Souza, a product designer and healthcare innovator from Mexico, showcased their trail blazing interventions to some of the world’s dire social problems and health conundra.

Souza narrates a personal story of trial and triumph when her family discovers the cousin’s diagnosis of Type I child diabetes. As a close family, this is a blow and it kick starts the journey to finding the most comfortable way for a child to manage this chronic disease. Renata Souza was disturbed by the fact that her cousin would be forced to miss out on childhood so she felt compelled to conceptualise a medical solution that would be fun and child-friendly. A family crisis gave birth to a global insulin kit, branded THOMY constructed for children to have fun while managing their condition. It comes with a trendy temporary tattoo to replace site rotation challenges when injecting insulin, a colourful toy-like pen designed for a child’s hand and a cheerful plastic carrier case to house all the components. When the end product appealed to the cousin’s sibling, a non-sufferer of diabetes, Souza said, “I knew that I had achieved what I has set out to do….. I wanted to create an emotional attachment [to the kit] – something they are proud to carry.”

Via Design Indaba

Making life easier for those in vulnerable situations was also a lifelong dream of Mark Kamau. When he realised that for him, playing for the national soccer team would not put food on the table, his curiosity for accessing opportunities grew and his love for multimedia designs set him on a path of discovery. Kamau wanted to make a difference and design technologies was to be the tool he would use to solve some of Africa’s problems. He spent many years helping the West understand Africans but not knowing where this information went, he decided to use his knowledge of African markets and their challenges for good and to change the trajectory of education in the continent. A company called BRCK was formed to solve problems and to connect a borderless continent where young and old could have access to information despite their economic misfortunes.

This ruggedised technology would keep people connected when electricity went down – a disruptive tool brick was created to close the 3 billion gap of people who don’t have access to the internet. Schools with no infrastructure today boast of digital classrooms with a KIO kit with tablets that don’t break for an 8-hour school day, a wireless charging facility and educational content. BRCK has also designed weather-proof servers that can go on buses, a tree if need be to provide the internet anywhere, anytime. Today this African pioneer and social entrepreneur enjoys the attention and financial backing of the Mark Zuckerberger’s of this world to build capital for a greater impact in the continent.

Written by: Anda Ngani

Africa’s time to shine at the Design Indaba 2018

posted on February 22nd, 2018 by LISOF

The first day of the Design Indaba Simulcast held at LISOF, Blairgworie kicked off its first speaker slot with the intriguing, Zimbabwean-born Sunu Gonera, a filmmaker who draws many of his influences from the dusty townships streets where he grew up. When Gonera was a child, the War of Independence in Zimbabwe was at its peak – the harsh realities of his childhood, meant that he spent many waking moments daydreaming and making up stories in his head.

Gonera recounted his journey behind the lens –  from an early age, telling stories was a way of escaping. His creativity landed him up in advertising in South Africa after a brief stint in banking after completing his degree from the University of Cape Town. As things would be, the talented Sunu Gonera worked his way up in the world of advertising and was soon drawn to the dazzling lights of Hollywood earning big gigs in the same league as the academy award nominee, Terrence Howard and Tom Arnold and the likes in this debut movie. “Pride.” After rubbing shoulders and living the life with the rich and famous, life took a dramatic turn, with barely a dime in his pocket, he returned to South Africa to start anew.

Gonera tells of his enduring spirit and his passion for this continent and all it has to offer as his main drivers in telling the African story. Branded as an Afrofuturist, his spectacular storytelling trademark of showing Africa with warts and all, strengthens his position back home as a sought after Creative Director after his Absolut One Source commercial earns him stripes in Cannes as well as at the South African Music Awards and Metro Awards for Best Music Video. Sunu Gonera champions the changing of the African narrative to a positive story and a shining light for the world to see in his bold work. As a trailblazer in transforming the African narrative, Gonera aptly defines the afrofuturist wave as putting this continent on the map and translating its energy into something tangible: “Aspiration is an attitude…. And the joy of Africa is all around us – we don’t have to hide it.”


Gonera’s narrative about the contribution of everyday people in making the day-to-day systems that are important in our lives work, is ground breaking. In his Metropolitan Life advert, “I see you,” he honours the role of the shopkeeper and the taxi driver. Gonera says he did this “because I wanted my mom in the corner shop to look good.”

His portfolio of work, together with other African creative giants, making waves in the movie scene (such as the David Oyelowo’s of this world from “Salma” fame who also happens to be a good friend and colleague) – is reverberating across the world giving Africans an authentic voice. For the sequel to Absolut Vodka’s 2nd ad campaign, Gonera wanted to create Africa’s own mythology and superheros – he is charting his path, uninhibited by where his imagination take him.

“Pick your path, tell you story……When I went to LA recently I felt I was bringing something to the table…. If I hadn’t lost everything and gone home I would not have felt like I have something to bring to the table, ”he says.

Via Design Indaba

Sunu Gonera’s creative genius has set the tone for the rest of the week – keeping the delegates of the Design Indaba 2018 at the edge of their seats with the ingenuity of our design creatives.

Written By: Anda Ngani

LISOF x Design Indaba Simulcast: Everything You Should Know

posted on February 6th, 2018 by LISOF

With the LISOF x Design Indaba Simulcast around the corner, it’s time to prepare yourself for the sheer amount of design knowledge and creativity you’re going to experience. If you’re still unclear on what exactly we’re doing, we’ve answered some questions.

What is Design Indaba?

The Design Indaba Festival is a week long celebration of art and design which has been running in Cape Town since 1995. The festival features, along with many interactive exhibits, a three day conference with talks from renowned design legends locally and abroad. There is also a Emerging Creatives Exhibit where new talent is showcased, and a competition of Most Beautiful Object in South Africa.

It’s basically a one-stop shop for all things beautiful from architecture, to graphic and fashion design, interiors, exteriors, furniture and photography. The event is also set up to educate on the importance of design.

So then what is the Simulcast?

The event has grown exponentially since it’s inception, with more and more people interested in attending. And so, a need for events in other cities came about. The Simulcast is set up so that people in Johannesburg can get access to the conference. All talks of the conference will be broadcasted live and direct from the Design Indaba Cape Town event. At our Johannesburg campus, there are four venues set up with excellent sound technology in order to show talks in the highest quality. These talks will be happening on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of February.

This is especially important for students interested in the arts, which is why LISOF is proud to be the official Joburg simulcast host for 2018.

What will be exhibited?

Along with showcasing the work of established artists throughout the different venues, we also have the Emerging Creatives exhibit for Joburg talent, curated by Design Indaba. From interior designers to photographers, this is the best in new Johannesburg-based design. We will also showcase the work of our talented students.

Is there anything else happening?

World famous Dutch trend reporter, Li Edelkoort, will be giving a talk on the 19th of February at LISOF Johannesburg. This will start off our Design Indaba Simulcast week, and is selling out fast – so if you’re wanting to hear about the latest in trends, get yourself a ticket.

Sounds cool! How can I get a ticket?

The different tickets are as follows:

Li Edelkoort Trend Forecast 19th Feb. Tickets available here.

Simulcast Three Day Pass 21 – 23 Feb: Tickets available here.

Simulcast Three Day Pass (Student) 21 – 23 Feb: Tickets available here. Groups of 20 discount tickets here.

Simulcast One Day Pass – 21, 22 or 23 Feb: Tickets available here.

However, if you’re LISOF student wanting to attend the simulcast talks, we’re offering a discount of 40% on three day passes (so R585 per ticket!) Please send an email to to confirm your spot.

Follow our Blog, Instagram and Twitter for more details, and join the Facebook event to keep track of updates!

We can’t wait to have you!

Larger than life placemaking with RDI-awarded Morag Myerscough

posted on January 24th, 2018 by LISOF
She’s the first speaker announced for the Design Indaba Festival 2018.
London-born designer Morag Myerscough is one of the leading UK creatives to be awarded Royal Designers for Industry (RDI) status this month.

Considered the highest honour a designer in the UK can recieve, the RDI recognises creatives who have made a significant impact on society. Only 200 people hold the status at any given time and this year’s recipients will join existing award holders, including James Dyson and Thomas Heatherwick.

Myerscough has over the last 20 years made substantial contributions to communication design, and has created multiple exhibitions and installations in public spaces.

Most recently, Myerscough, the first speaker announced for the Design Indaba Festival 2018 and the founder of Studio Myerscough, redesigned the interior of the cafe inside the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in London, which was designed by architect David Adjaye.

Capturing what she called the “exuberance of the staff”, Myerscough decked the cafe out in bold, colourful geometric prints.

The project stayed true to her signature style of design. Not only does her work suit the environment but it also enhances the space using colour, pattern and large-scale graphics. Her aim is to “change people’s perceptions of space into place”.

She executed the same approach in the wards of Sheffield Children’s Hospital in northern England, but she took it one step further.

In a new wing of the hospital, designed by Avanti Architects, Myerscough designed the interior of 46 en-suite bedrooms and six multi-occupancy suites.

The rooms were specially tailored to suit the children. Some rooms are vibrant, fun and uplifting while others were designed using a paler colour scheme for the comfort of children with autism or aversion to bright colours. She also made sure that her creation suited children of all ages.

“It was just about making a bedroom that you felt good to be in,” she told Dezeen at the time.

Feeling and mood are integral to her work – whether it’s the colour she assigns to her own feelings (green if she’s feeling in between) or the colour she assigns to the way she wants people to feel in the space.

Essentially, Myerscough turns a space into a place with character, sensitivity and whimsy. The only feeling she guards against is indifference.

“What you want to do is do work that people love. Like your own home. If you base it on ‘do you love your home?’, you can make public spaces that people love as well,” she said.

Myerscough is currently completing a 200-metre installation in a hospital in Sweden based on her mood tweets – she only spoke on twitter in colour for over two years.

She also set up SupergroupLondon with Luke Morgan in 2010 and they collaborate on many of the structural art projects she’s known for.

Every year the Design Indaba Festival curates a pioneering programme of speakers, music artists, film and design exhibitions, showcasing the best of the global and African creative industries. Book Now.



Design Indaba 2018 speakers Studio Swine on making sustainable design desirable

posted on January 17th, 2018 by LISOF

London-based duo is behind accessories made of human hair, furniture made from ocean waste, among other designs.

Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami, the husband-and-wife founders of Studio Swine, believe it’s time we question how we could achieve harmony between nature and industry.

Speaking in an interview at the inaugural Design Commons, Design Indaba’s deconstructed conference on the future of cities, the duo pointed to their project, Fortlandia as an example.

It began with a voyage deep into the Amazonian forest. The couple spent days studying indigenous rubber tappers. They would later turn this material into ebonite (a plastic-like substitute for ebony wood), which they would use for their Fordlandia collection of chairs.

“By buying forest sustainable products you’re actually paying people to protect the Amazon because the Amazon is worth more standing than cutting it down for timber in the short term,” explains Groves. “We’ve just started on it with our first wild rubber collection but that’s just going to grow and grow, we’re finding more products all the time that can be harvested in a more sustainable way.”

Grove and Murakami founded their firm in 2010 after graduating from London’s Royal College of Art. Their work explores identity and sustainability. Specifically, they look to make sustainable practices desirable. “Recycling is kind of like a bad word in some ways. It’s not very glamorous; it’s not very desirable. I think that desire is really, really important. If you want to change the world, you have to make change desirable,” adds Groves.

With each project, the pair create a short film. Murakami explains: “We often make films that have no language or words so we can very easily communicate without any language barriers. It’s really a process of creation which goes in tandem with the creation of our objects. So they influence each other and sort of help each other develop.”

Another of their recent projects, New Spring explores the fragility of the seasons. The interactive tree-like sculpture revealed at Milan Design Week emits bubbles that devolve into white mist as they burst.

Like their previous work, the experiential installation was created using unusual materials. Inspired by Japan’s Cherry Blossom tree, New Spring was built using recycled aluminium.

Translucent bubbles emerge from the 6-metre high tubes of the tree-like sculpture. They burst when they come into contact with the skin, but not when they come into contact with textures fabrics, meaning visitors can handle the delicate bubbles with gloves.

“As designers we always feel like there’s too much stuff in this world,” says Murakami of their work. “I think the challenge always is, how can we create something that’s meaningful; that’s not adding to the kind of waste resources in this world or having the least impact to precious materials in this world.”

The designers are also behind accessories made of human hair, furniture made from ocean waste, and cabinets made from aluminium foam.

Groves explains that it’s the role of the designer to make connections between the emotive and innovative if we’re to make sustainable design practices par for the course in our cities. “We live in a global world where we should take the best ideas for humanity and apply them wherever they’re relevant. That coexistence makes really exciting cities.

We feel like – and this is true of cities and it’s also true of indigenous communities – it’s all about appreciating what is good and holding on to what is good and appreciating ideas that can support that and not threaten.”

Design Commons puts global heavyweights in design at the same table as the audience with the aim of answering one question: How do we design better cities? If you missed it you can catch their Design Talk at the Design Indaba Festival 2018 taking place in Cape Town in February.


Design Indaba 2018 speaker, Peter Veenstra, on building outspoken landscapes

posted on January 16th, 2018 by LISOF

“In the end we are happiest when the structural improvement and design [thinking] come together,” says the Dutch landscape architect.

Peter Veenstra is a landscape architect and co-founder of LOLA Architects, a design firm based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. They specialise in questioning the relationship between nature, man and urban spaces, producing designs that weave sprawling gardens and open squares for pedestrians seamlessly among city districts.

According to the Design Indaba 2018 speaker who will launch a special project as part of his talk next year, there is a curious divergence that occurs in the industry of landscape architecture that must be manouvered with care.

On one hand, designers are eager to flex their creative muscles with impressive and complex “out of the box” compositions with too little regard for the real-world impact. At the other end of the spectrum exist the designers who take the issues of the natural surroundings incredibly seriously, yielding to obstacles to such a degree that it bogs down their creativity from the start.

“We’re trying to combine the two,” says Veenstra, “We like to do experiments in the office, but of course in the end we are happiest when the structural improvement and design [thinking] come together.”

Despite the challenge, Veenstra maintains that this is an exciting time to be a part of the landscape architecture industry, as the global zeitgeist is moving more towards offsetting the dreary side of urban life with elements of nature and the great outdoors. There is a collective desire to introduce the countryside into our citified lives, a mindfulness of Earth that enriches our wellbeing. This desire is one that creative groups such as LOLA Architects are acting on.

The Adidas Campus in Germany is one project that illustrates this considerate approach. Though still under construction, it will feature landscape gardens that reflect the active and sporty ethos that the brand of Adidas is known for. The architects intend for this to be a dynamic space where the employees of the company will feel inspired by their working environment, inside and out.




Design Indaba Conference 2018

posted on January 8th, 2018 by LISOF

Experience the world’s leading creative currency that’s driving design for a better world with Design Indaba’s iconic annual conference.

The Design Indaba conference, taking place from 21-23 February 2018, is going beyond design to create a multi-sensory event where you can hear, see, learn and experience the future of creative thinking and design activism. Awarded as the Best Conference in the World, Design Indaba aims to make a positive impact on society by building a movement that attracts producers of meaningful culture and business, regardless of sector or industry.

The first three confirmed speakers of the substantial 2018 panel include celebrated and prolific spatial designer Morag Myerscough who most recently reimagined the interior of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre cafe in London. Dutch landscape architect Peter Veenstra, co-founder of LOLA Architects, created the Adidas Campus headquarters in Germany and is bringing his structural genius to the Design Indaba stage. The third confirmed speaker is Cannes Lions award-winning filmmaker Sunu Gonera who hails from Zimbabwe and whose work tells authentic African stories, as seen in the music video he created for Khuli Chana.

With three full days of engaging speakers, exhibitions and a film- and music festival, the 2018 conference is set to amaze, uplift and motivate delegates to find new ways in which to design a better world.

Taking place in conjunction with the world-renowned Design Indaba Conference, the annual Design Indaba Festival 2018 will run from 21 – 24 February 2018 at the Artscape Theatre Centre in Cape Town. An experiential wonderland of live music, films, Chefs Table dinners, performances and exhibitions, the Design Indaba Festival encompasses the Design Indaba’s longstanding annual Film Festival, Nightscapes Music Festival, and exhibitions such as the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) and the Emerging Creatives Programme. New to the festival in 2018 are pop-up restaurants featuring renowned Chefs and stand-alone performances by headline acts.

The Design Indaba Conference and Festival 2018 will take place at the Artscape Theatre Complex in Cape Town. Simulcast versions of the conference will take place in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Potchefstroom and Namibia. Tickets are available from Webtickets ( and can be booked as 1-day, 2-day or 3-day packages.


  • Design Indaba Conference and Simulcast: 21-23 February 2018
  • Most Beautiful Object in South Africa exhibition: 21 – 24 February 2018
  • Emerging Creatives exhibition: 21 – 24 February 2018
  • Film Festival: 22 – 24 February 2018
  • Nightscapes Music Festival: 22 – 24 February 2018

For more information visit

Social media handles:

@designindaba (
@DI_Festival (

@designindaba (




LISOF is the official and proud Johannesburg Simulcast venue for the Design Indaba.