Design Indaba

COMPILED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring

Design Indaba’s annual three-day conference in Cape Town never ceases to provide attendees with a sudden burst of inspiration.

From the 17th to the 19th of February, we were presented with 43 expert speakers from across the globe, covering the fields of architecture, design, film, music, advertising, food and fashion.

If you were following VISI on Twitter, you would know that Design Indaba 2016 (which also happens to be the 21st anniversary of this prestigious conference) gave us a lot to think about. We simply had to share some of our favourites with you. We hope you enjoy!

How Far From Home

Joburgers Chanel Cartell and Stevo Dirnberger did what most people only dream of. They quit their jobs, sold everything they owned and embarked on a journey around the world. They documented their adventure on Instagram and decided that “looking for inspiration meant going outside and exploring”. What they taught us: “Be prepared to act on your ideas.”



This London-based architecture studio (and winners of the prestigious Turner Prize in 2015) took the audience’s breath away with their design of the Yardhouse. This striking structure is a creative collaborative workspace, and is clad in pretty (handmade) concrete tiles.


NB Studio

Headed up by award-winning designers Nick Finney and Alan Dye, this UK communication studio taught us that it’s important to leave your comfort zone, that you can never know too much and that life’s too short not to be a designer. It’s no surprise that the Museum of London turned to NB to create a campaign to make them stand out in a city packed with museums. The You Are Here campaign showed visitors what the present-day location looked like in the past.

NBStudio2 NBStudio

Rich Mnisi

Rich Mnisi, a Design Indaba Global Graduate for 2016, is one of SA’s favourite young fashion designers. His androgynous AW2016 collection is something to behold.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 7.06.49 PM

W&N Studio

Image makers and filmmakers Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, founders of London-based W&N Studio say: “Don’t overthink it, just do it.” They’ve worked with the late Alexander McQueen, Massive Attack, Issey Miyake, Cartier and Björk. This video highlights the breathtaking work they do.

(via Saint George Studio on Vimeo)

Erik Kessels

This creative director of KesselsKramer in Amsterdam believes that a good idea has no borders, as seen in his clever work below.

“Please No Toasters” – a sign above a plug point in the middle of German museum NRW Forum.


“24 Hours in Photos” – an exhibition showcasing the 950 000 photos Erik downloaded in 24 hours off Flikr. Visitors to the space were encouraged to pick the photos up and interact with the installation.


Studio [D] Tale

London-based architects and designers Safia Qureshi and Maxwell Mutanda make up Studio[D]Tale. We featured their design of an African-inspired Notting Hill home here.

Margaret Calvert

This renowned typographer, who’s about to turn 80-years-old (and informed us that she doesn’t intend on stopping until she reaches 100), is known for her work with British road signs. Does it get more iconic than this?


Fred Gelli

Fred Gelli, Brazilian graphic designer and founder of creative agency Tátil, is behind the design of the Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics identities, which he explained needed to reflect local culture, but be universally understood. The logos are inspired by the shapes of Rio’s landmarks.

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 7.11.40 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 7.12.01 PM FredGelli2

Van Eijk & Van Der Lubbe

We loved the concept behind the design of the seating in Muziekgebouw Eindhoven. With the idea in mind that not all shows sell out, Dutch designers Miriam van der Lubbe and Niels van Eijk made all the seats different colours.


Sou Fujimoto

Japanese architect Sou Fujimuto’s design of the House of Hungarian Music works harmoniously with its natural surroundings. Beautiful!

Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 7.14.23 PM

Benjamin Hubert

This award-winning industrial designer wants to “use design as a powerful tool to give back”, which is why he redesigned the traditional charity box. It looks as though the box, which was designed for a local cancer charity, is bowing graciously every time someone pops a coin into it.



Before we’d even heard this Swedish design group talk, we’d picked a range of our favourite creations from their impressive portfolio. Take a look.

Yogita Agrawal

Recent graduate from Parsons School of Design in New York, industrial designer Yogita Agrawal was part of the team that created the UNICEF award-winning SoaPen, which encourages children to wash their hands, thereby assisting in the reduction of child mortality rates.


Lava Design Lab

Klasien van de Zandschulp and Cecilia Martin of Amsterdam studio Lava Lab designed the look and feel behind Russia’s first design museum – and it’s on a bus!


Christian Benimana

Manager of MASS Design Lab in Rwanda, architect Christian Benimana received a standing ovation after presenting his inspiring body of work. The Butaro District Hospital, seen below, created 4 000 jobs in the area and made use of locally sourced materials, like volcanic stone.

ChristianBenimana2 ChristianBenimana

Naresh Ramchandani

Naresh Ramchandani is a communications and advertising partner at Pentagram in London, and is behind some seriously clever campaigns, like this anti-war poster below.


Jaime Hayón

Besides the Catch Chair below (which literally looks like the chair is trying to catch you), get a look at a range of Spanish product designer Jaime Hayón’s clever work in our feature.


Imogen Heap

Singer-songwriter Imogen Heap demonstrated how the clever Mi.Mu gloves work, which aim to change the way musicians make music. We featured them here.

View more from this year’s conference at

[Images via Design Indaba, KesselsKramer, SoaPen, Lava Lab, MASS Design, Pentagram, Hayon Studio]