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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

EDITOR’S NOTE: Design Indaba Cape Town 2014

Design Indaba (DI) kicked off 26 February 2014, starting with a series of conference days between 26 – 28 February. I unfortunately, was not able to attend. Received no access for that experience – so I don’t have anything to feedback from that part of DI.

My DI experience started Friday, 28 February at around 16H00 when I attended a special invite-only presentation by WGSN of the Spring Summer 2015 trends. It was incredibly informative and shed much needed light with regards to where trends were headed in the near future and what we could put out into the world and expect from the rest of the world. There was some casual chatting after the presentation and then I made my way into Expo to just briefly check out what’s happening and who’s present.

I perused mostly the Emerging Creatives side, which I’ll get to later, but as you walked into the Expo, you were greeted by the Africa Is Now exhibit. A DI project, it traced the latest developments in design and innovation from across the continent. In the end, 60 objects from 66 creative beings from 25 countries on the African continent were selected and showcased.

Of course it would prove very difficult to select favourites, so instead, I selected highlights that I feel are worth adding an additional note to here on our blog. Of course, this does not in anyway mean anything specific, other than these are the designers and their objects we had to share with you:

 Blue Worm Onesy by Anisa Mpungwa, Lion Cloth and Ashes, South Africa/Tanzania
The look, part of the Lion Cloth and Ashes SS14 collection is a simple representation of a designer sourcing fabric from the continent and inspiration from the world over to recreate a sense of feminine bliss with a much desired tom boy/street style aesthetic.

Brother Vellies, Aurora James, Namibia
Born from a history of being the Khoisan’s shoe of choice to its role as the shoe for all Afrikaans boers when it was time for the Great Trek; the veldskoen (scrub land shoe) or velskoen (skin shoe) has become quite symbolic and popular in SA and its aesthetic has now been given an entirely contemporary feel, sheen, style, touch and feel to it.

Mabushi Residential Development, Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ Design Architecture and Urbanism, Nigeria
The biggest ‘Yes’ for me about this project, because it’s got nothing to do with fashion, if the mere fact that it’s smart design. Using nature to further enhance our natural lives and to be smart and practical about the amount of space you have and how to use it. Yet another example of design adding incredible volumes to your life in its simplest ways.

Another section that was made available to Expo attendees was First Editions. This section, for me, was a little confusing because there wasn’t much info that I was getting as to why it existed. It seemed as though it was leaning towards featuring people and brands who would be ideal for Emerging Creatives, but not necessarily able to pay the full exhibiting price and there need to be in a shared space. Simultaneously they came across as people and brands who are doing what they are showcasing for the first time – so it’s their first collection or first attempt etc. Which turned out not to be the case after chatting to Kat van Duinen, who let on that she’s been around for two years; producing some of the most marvellous (bag) accessories and wallets and belts.

She was positioned directly next to Lesiba Mabitsela who was undoubtly the most interesting aspect of First Editions. Putting together a concept through fashion that delve in the realm of identity in both a sexual and cultural psyche. Asking questions on what it is to be a man in a women’s garment and a woman in a man’s garment, I see Lesiba doing what fashion designers all across the world should be constantly doing: asking, posing, and furthermore, answering questions about the society we live in and its belief structure.

Also at First Editions whose work I enjoyed was Augustine. A recent introduction to me a few years ago, and then collaboration with Masego Maponyane, when I saw their presence and their amazing leather jacket, I understood their existence and their presence at First Editions. My final choice at First Editions was definitely Wolf & Maiden. As someone who dreams of releasing a series of men’s leather bags, seeing their work and having visited their Woodstock Exchange store, I was just proud. We more leather, hand-made work in this country.

First Edition: Kat Van Duinen

First Edition: Lesiba Mabitsela

First Edition: Augustine

First Edition: Wolf & Maiden

So now I move back to the Emerging Creatives. These young and old and amazing people really tickled my fancy. To the point whereby if I had the means I would have bought all of their work on the spot. Of course I can’t speak about everyone in this post then it would be just too long (considering how long it is right now), BUT, below is a list of the names you need to Google:

Andri Burnett
Erika Wessels – Erika Wessels Jewellery
Fayaaz Mahomed
Katlego Kgabale
Katlego Serepo – Cokaine Apparel MCMXC
Kevin-Tumba Makonga
Londiwe Msimang
Mbongeni Fongoqa
Mesuli Macozoma
Michael Masinga
Mokoena Kobeli
Pola Maneli
S’Bhekile H. Ndlangisa
Siviwe Jali
Siyanda Mbele – Mbele Design
Sphiwe Giba – Juxtapoz
Sphume Nxumalo
Tina Ngxokolo – Tina Ngxokolo
Renee Nicole Sander
Russel Abrahams – Fatlip
Vukile Batyi
Valerie Britz
Zaheer Randera

Emerging Creative: Andri Burnett

Emerging Creative: Fatlip

Emerging Creative: Fayaaz Mahomed

Emerging Creative: Renee Nicole Sander

Emerging Creative: Vukile Batyi

Generally speaking I was impressed with the levels of talent available first in our country and then on the continent. The fashion was plausible, with a few brands really sticking out for me, Shirt & Co. and Reza Levy, specifically. I also felt as though for an expo on design, very little was done to communicate these creative’s and their abilities in terms of how they were exhibited. It felt as though, for creative’s, those 2x2 or whatever boxes with stark white walls were an injustice.

But anyway, it happened and I was stoked to have experienced it. I’m definitely stoked to watch these careers grow and excited to see next year’s expo and for once experience the conference too.

PS There was the Design Indaba Music Circuit. I missed the Wednesday night activities, but I was at Assembley the Thursday – OFF.THE.HOOK! Hashtag just saying.

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