Design Indaba News

Highlights from Design Indaba 2009 Day 1

More than one presentation praised Design Indaba as one of the world's leading events of its kind. Here are some of the highlights from the first day…

She's yellow, he's pink…
The importance of design to societies and economies has once again been epitomised by the line-up of creative gurus at the 2009 Design Indaba in Cape Town.

You have to love some belly laughter first thing in the morning. Sean Adams and Noreen Morioka are "jetlagged and amped", once worked in the same building as Madonna, have an A-list client base which includes Sundance (Robert Redford's outfit), Nickelodeon and Disney.

Being so good and funny allows them to get away with a flat out palette of pure process colours - ironically she's the yellow and he's...kind of pink - and they're both seriously red, white and blue.

A bogus sociological study of the global design community, identifying a catalogue of design 'types' such as Bad Boy, Artsy, Fancy Pants, Regular guy, Zen, Wired and Trendwhores and their hilarious Japanese inspired ads for ESPN Winter Games... well are worth a Google at

Seeking a human presence

Rick Valicenti is a kind of American Neville Brody - master of the deep and meaningful letterform and perfect graphic image - responsible for much mind-blowing 3-D type, they seem to effortlessly embody technology into their work at the Chicago based 3st studio - whether converting voice and motion sensors into graphic imagery or by maximising every feature of InDesign to virtually automate the process of labour- and information-intensive projects.

On a more serious note, 57 transparent crystal markers stand tribute to the 57 residents of Hoboken, New Jersey who died in 9/11 - featuring stencilled and lasered fragments of survivors handwriting on its handrails and walkways, the project is still in search of funding for it's due opening date of 2010, but nevertheless stands out a moving example of Rick's quest for human presence and meaning via his design.

Building a lasting legacy

The RCA in London is always good for a bit of a mind-altering and Anthony Dunn and Fiona Raby's approach to answering futuristic questions such as what shape might “victimless” or lab-grown meat take, how do you use nanotechnology to make ice-cream from clouds and what sort of relationships will humans want from robots - culminates in the rather neat concept of the Evidence Dolls - a project commissioned by the Pompidou Centre in Paris. Check it out for yourself at

The upshot of all of this seems to point to the crystal insight from Anthony Dunne that the major shift in design in the future might well be from one of ceasing to be able to adapt our world to suit ourselves and needing to adapt ourselves to fit the world!

In this regard familiar Indaba figure - ex Jag-man Keith Helfet is back on the podium after 2 years, to reveal the story of Joule - his amazing collaboration with Optimal Energy (designers of the SALT Telescope and the Rooivalk helicopter gunship) to produce a car which was launched at the Paris Motor Show in October 2008.

Joule is South Africa's very first independent venture in to the automotive sector and a welcome step in an environmentally friendly direction to boot, it is hoped that with Helfet's proven track record in designing beautiful cars this venture will be a lasting commercial and intellectual legacy for our region.

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