Design Indaba 2017

Design Indaba 2017

Inspired design was a focal point at this year’s Design Indaba, with an underlying thread that it can offer practical solutions to real world problems

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Kaja Dahl

Kaja’s perfume project entailed an exploration of what we have lost of ancient perfume rituals. In her unique fragrance (a collaboration with Agata Karolina), Tapputi and the Sea, Cape Town Edition craft and perfumery meet in a unique artisanal creation whereby dyed natural sea sponges hold the handmade solid perfume made of only natural oils.

Yinka Ilori

Artist and designer Yinka Ilori’s work is inspired by the parables his Nigerian-born parents passed down to him. As a child living in London, these stories were one of the only ways he could connect to his heritage. Now, through his work, he explores the ideas of status, hierarchy and cultural heritage through the icon of a chair – subverting its structure and imbuing it with colour, pattern and meaning to tell stories.

Olafur Eliasson

Artist Olafur Eliasson’s installations and artworks ask questions about the nature of science, art and nature. His often elementally inspired and ephemeral works encourage the viewer to examine their own existence, perception and place in the world. The weather project, 2003, at Tate Modern in London is possibly one of his best-known pieces – a huge glowing sun dominated the Turbine Hall – a study on weather as one of people’s primary encounters with nature.

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Nkuli Mlangeni

The Sankara rug by textile designer Nkuli Mlangeni, nominated by Bielle Bellingham, was the winner of this year’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa. The exhibition of 10 pieces, chosen by style influencers, ran alongside the conference. The rug brings together traditional handcraft and day-to-day relevance in a striking graphic design.

Diez Office

Product and industrial designer Stefan Diez explores the nature of his materials – what they can do, how they can be shaped – through designing the process of creation itself. The beauty of his work for Japanese company Soba – a flat-pack bamboo trestle – is in the designer’s ability to use the materials’ qualities to create a functional and beautiful item.

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Norwegian multidisciplinary studio Snøhetta’s pillars of collaboration and trans positioning (professionals exchange roles to keep their perspective interesting and unclouded by convention) ensure that its work challenges the status quo. These core principles, and their sustainability-meets-high-design approach, is perfectly expressed by the 7th Floor project or the Treehotel in Sweden. It encapsulates their marriage of the ‘pragmatic and the poetic’ in a stilted room that reflects the forest and blends in with its surrounds.

Joe Gebbia

Airbnb, the tech startup that began humbly in a flat-share, is now valued at billions of dollars. Its co-founder Joe Gebbia sees brokenness in systems as opportunities for design – the core of the success of Airbnb, which solved an accommodation problem on a basic level. But it was the company’s higher ideals of community and connecting strangers that translated into the design of Cedar House, created in collaboration with Japanese architect Go Hasegawa and the community of Yoshina. This shared space, available on Airbnb, is rentable, but is also open to people from the village. The experience of staying here brings you into contact with the local traditions and culture. Constructed using sustainable cedar from forests in the mountains nearby and built by local master carpenters and craftsmen, it epitomises Airbnb’s values for collaboration and the sharing that can be facilitated when people connect under the same roof.

Monique Vee

We noticed Monique Vee’s striking pieces at the Emerging Creative’s showcase at Design Indaba for their play on angles and levels. Monique started her label in 2016. The 2017 Suspension collection is her first of furniture, made up desks, seats and tables, and epitomises her minimal but bold approach. The interior and exterior pieces are a refreshing take on form and structure.

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Winy Maas of Netherlands-based urban design firm MVRDV is a visionary in the field of architecture. The aim of the firm is to turn fear into curiosity, egoism into collectivism, with architecture as the vehicle. Peruri 88 in Jakarta is an example of a mixed-use multifaceted building that makes more efficient use of space and creates a new urban dynamic.

Text: Julia Freemantle
Photographs: Andrew Dunkley and Marcus Leith, neugerriemschneider, Berlin and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, Johan Jansson, Veerle Evens, Jonathan Mauloubier, Frances Marais, supplied

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