say_helloSo Day One was undoubtedly about embracing the process of creating and everything that comes with it. Today, speakers once again made reference to understanding the context of the work you’re creating, but the focus fell heavily on trans-media creatives. People who transcend the normal boundaries we set for what a particular designer should or can do.

The day started with an intimate look at the obsessive collecting habits of Steven Heller. He has single-handedly chronicled the growth of design through more than 150 books on the subject. He freely admits that he’s trying to justify his collecting compulsion by saying that it’s about “understanding what visual code needs to be cracked for successful consumption”. Whether that does the trick in explaining the impressive selection of Mao figurines (above) he’s amassed we’ll leave up to your own collecting urges to judge.

There’s also an element of lifting seemingly “low art” to a higher level. He argues that mass produced porcelain figurines will possibly be revealed as the modern day version of Greek sculpture. And we tend to believe him.

A lot of mention was made today about work growing from passion. Some things are hard to sell to clients as ideas or prototypes, and as Jeanne van Heeswijk pointed out, we have to “commission ourselves”. Heller loves counter culture publishing, because he says they’re all “acts of passion”. The same goes for the logo and menu designs that his wife, Louise Fili creates. She loves food and type, so she’s carved out a niche for herself where she can live these two passions in her daily work. She says that even if you’ve got a full-time job, doing personal work and projects is essential to finding your own voice.

It might’ve been all the passion talk or perhaps just the conviction and bravery of Jeanne van Heeswijk, but her talk was as emotionally stirring as it was a rousing call to arms. “The artist has to decide whom to serve,” she said and it became very clear that she serves the communities that desperately need her help. Through seemingly simple co-opts and working together, she helps some of the most neglected and forgotten communities open a debate on who’s job it actually is to take care of the spaces they inhabit. Inevitably, the answer is that it’s up to each of us, and us as a collective.

She’s brave in her defiance of regulations and norms – suggesting that together a community can come up with better policies than the ones created for us by government, correctly surmising that housing is the battlefield of our time.

Chef Alex Atala spoke beautifully about his evident love for Brazilian food. To him, innovation is creating something surprising. Something you know, but it still surprises you. This idea was echoed by Asif Khan who “discovered” his Cloud Machine while playing with his kids at bath time. By combining helium and bubble bath, he created these magical clouds:

“Sometimes you have a hunch that combining things in a new way will result in something beautiful. And then you just go and try it out. Act on hunches,” was his advice.

Nicholas Hlobo did a performance piece after lunch, leaving everyone absolutely quiet and eyes glued to the stage. It might sound a bit over-the-top, but many delegates described it as a near-spiritual experience. He is undoubtedly one of the most honest, talented and relevant artists we have in South Africa.

What is interesting is that he turned the usual formula of an informally presented collection of ideas on its head. Through hauntingly beautiful music (with him singing) he projected images and text on the screen. These told his story and touched on some of his convictions in such an honest an relatable way, interspersed with imagery of his art. Woven into this visually engrossing tapestry was snippets of meaning and interpretations on both his Xhosa culture and his art.

Initially he was nowhere to be seen on stage, but he lowered himself down to the stage in a womb or calabash-like shaped shroud – all the while singing. Essentially, he never spoke a word, yet his was by far the most inspiring and appreciated talk of the day. As a local artist, he surpassed everything that seasoned and internationally acclaimed presenters and public speakers did before – connecting with people on an emotional and intellectual level like no one else has managed to do.

The last speaker of the day confirmed the idea of extending your skills and thoughts to as many different spheres as you can. Thinking broadly, educating yourself and never losing your sense of awe in simple things are some of the qualities that came through in Daan Roosegaarde’s talk. He likes the idea of design scaring people a bit, making them a bit uncomfortable. At the same time he shares Jeanne’s drive for good: “Technology doesn’t have to have an Orwellian effect on our lives. It can be used in a Da Vinci-way, for helping and growing; for good.”

Lastly, all the speakers today acknowledged the fact that they cannot possibly do any of the things that they do alone. Roosegaarde summed it up nicely, saying that artists of today all work together in teams. This principle of collectivity shone through all the talks thus far in Design Indaba. Design and those plying the trade should never be seen as a thing separate from the context of where it will live; the people who’ll interact with it; or the community of experts who could contribute.

We’re geared for the last day of Design Indaba. It promises to be another riveting ride – here’s who we’re looking forward to hearing speak.

Day Three brings on a long and varied selection of speakers – sure to keep our brains functioning at a high gear as we wrap up this awesome Indaba.

Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg works in the space where synthetic biology and design meet. She’s worked on projects that programmes bacteria to do useful things, like determine whether water is safe to drink and even diagnose illnesses.

Matthew Carter follows hot on her heels at 9:40. If you haven’t heard of him, how about some of his work. Does Verdana, Georgia and Tahoma sound familiar? Those are all his creations – see all of them here.

At 11:30 two of the most interesting People of the Internet will be doing a joint talk. We’re talking about the awesome “proctastiworker” Jessica Hische and Marian Bantjes (above). Jessica created this incredible site explaining how Twitter works to her mother. That alone deserves a massive amount of respect. Marian is known for her intricate style of illustration.

One of the greatest minds of the advertising industry as we know it, Sir John Hegarty, will be speaking next. He’s got a long and illustrious list of accomplishments – founding BBH, coming up with Vorsprung Durch Technik, making Levi’s cool and (most importantly, we feel) essentially finding Brad Pitt. All the Team Red ladies are eternally grateful for that last fact.

Lastly, there’s our hometown boys Spoek Mathambo, Bogosi Sekhukhuni and The Smarteez. They’re sure to add a South African and distinctly Jozi spin to this internationally renowned platform.

Remember to follow the hashtag, #DesignIndaba2013, and us as we wrap up this incredible week.

Yesterday was the perfect way to kick off this incredible week of inspiration! Read our recap post about it if you’ve missed out on the live action.

Today is set to be just as thrilling with Steven Heller starting things off bright and early…or at least we will be bright once we’ve had another cup of coffee. He’s the man behind more than 150 books on design and pop culture and the daily bits of awesome called the Daily Heller. Sign up to receive this read-worthy newsletter.

At 10:50, interaction designer, Jeanne van Heeswijk, will be taking the stage. Continuing the trend from yesterday of participatory design and cultural production in an urban renewal context. One of her most recent projects is ‘Public Faculty’ that actively encourages people to express their opinions and learn from each other within a specific public locale. Read more about it on her site. Above’s a great interview with her on the topic of her most recent Public Faculty.

One of the people of the entire Indaba we’re most excited to see is definitely Nicholas Hlobo. Not only because he’s a Joburg based artist truly representing, but also because his work is so gutsy and explorative in terms of concepts and materials that he just cannot be missed. Here’s a great video profile of him:

Rounding up our list of must-see speakers is Asif Khan, the guy who designed the Coca-Cola Beatbox installation at the recent Olympics. It was the first time in Coca-Cola’s history that the global brand had commissioned a feature Olympic showcase with the absence of a single Coke logo on it – and that’s no mean feat!

Remember to follow the hashtag, #DesignIndaba2013, and us (of course) to stay in the loop with all the mind-blowing as it happens.

unplugDual screening, microblogging, and 6 second videos. Our attention is at an all-time low and the way brands reach us has to adapt to reflect this. This is the age of constant gratification and quick fixes

With the average person today processing more data in a single day than a person in the 1500s did in their entire lifetime, some scientists are suggesting that our ability to process and analyse is being eroded with the emphasis on instant gratification and brevity. The infographic above, created by the Big Communications, shows the terrifying amount of data generated every minute by the internet’s global population of 2.1 billion people.

Studies have shown that 32% of consumers will start abandoning slow sites between one and five seconds, and Vine was recently launched by Twitter with some brands already looking to harness its potential. It only allows for 6 seconds of content, epitomising how far this movement has come.

Margaux Le Pierres, as part of  Student Animation Project (2011), made this awesome video explaining what information overload is doing to us, our brains and the economy:

The data is from US research but, as the team argues, obsession with multitasking is true across the globe. Is data visualisation the way forward? What is certain is that we are under information siege – so here’s to plugging out this weekend!

Thanks to the Strategy + Planning and Ogilvy Earth teams at Ogilvy PR London for sniffing out the great content.

marcellaMarcela Ospina is an Anthropologist who helps brands understand their consumers from a cultural perspective. She assists clients in better understanding new, untapped markets and their potential consumers.

Organisations are often looking at how to introduce products in new environments. In order to do so, they need to truly understand what the cultural nuances of these unexplored territories are, and how these nuances affect consumer behaviour. Marcela assists in discovering and analysing the consumers in potential markets.

She’s particularly interested in how offline social networks operate, and possibly influence online behaviours, or vice-versa. Discovering what underlies decision-making processes and social behavioural shifts is the goal of the research and innovation projects that she is involved in.

She’ll be talking about cultural insights she gathered around people’s use of digital and mobile technologies on her recent trip through Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia.

The presentation focuses on people’s behaviours around technology, and how these impact culture, economy and social relationships. She’ll also explore some of the most important developing trends within this space.

To be part of the conversation, follow with next Friday (15 Feb) from 11:00 with the #HowToFriday hashtag. There are limited tickets available for the talk, so if you’d like to join us on campus please send an email to