Margaux Loubser from the University of the Free State won a paid trip to the 2018 Design Indaba in Cape Town and R3 000 in cash from PG Bison for her entry in the 1.618 competition.
Margaux said she went to the Design Indaba with no expectation. She didn’t look at the posters and didn’t read the program.
“As a result, my mind was blown.”
She noted that the week kicked off with Sunu Gonera and his views on AfriFuturism. His insights sparked a flame that the guests would feel through the course of the week, feeding a blaze of good design. The dynamism of Africa is exactly what contributes to its soul, what creates the opportunity for never-ending development and improvement.
Guests were invited to roam around the Artscape. The Emerging Creatives exhibited a great variety of work, from sculpture to film, but it was all linked by a common denominator: finding a voice within the greater African identity.
The Most Beautiful Object in the South Africa Exhibition supported this notion. Objects like the Tutu 2.0 Pendant Light, the Mvelo Desk, and the Mighty Ndebele were not beautiful merely because of what they looked like, but because of what they represented. My personal favourite was the “Philanderer” Brooch by Carine Terreblanche. Its geometric shape is vaguely reminiscent of a human face, the face of “a man that cannot resist a woman.” Its clean lines and unexpected meaning was what appealed to me.
There wasn’t a speaker who didn’t inspire the guests in some way, with everything from stunning visuals to crazy science-driven architecture. Neri Oxman was the most prominent of example of how science can change our built environment. Regardless of her striking on-stage presence, the immense complexity of the work she exhibited left the crowd dumbstruck. From 3D printing glass to using biological substances and light to enable a building to generate its own energy.
After each break, we would enter the dark theatre with renewed enthusiasm for what the next session would bring.
A project which stuck with Margaux was that of Renata Souza. After her nephew, age seven, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and she witnessed the way in which children needed to self-medicate several times a day, she decided to design a product which made the whole experience less scary. Her project will not change the world, but it will make an immense difference in the lives of children living with Type 1 Diabetes.
Finally, the best for last. The dynamic duo who left me dumbstruck and with my jaw on the floor is Studio SWINE, an acronym for Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers. The name alone excites me.
Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves regard themselves as “gonzo designers”, derived from the term gonzo journalism, where a journalist would engage completely in a situation and afterwards write an article about it, but instead of producing a written piece, Studio SWINE produces an object. They immerse themselves in all the aspects of a situation and through thoughtful investigation are able to find a way to represent it physically.
Their projects over the next five years include recovering plastic from the ocean and making stools for the fishermen on the boats they travelled on; investigating the human hair industry in China and producing a collection of furniture items using hair as material; and travelling to a ghost town in the Amazon to collect rubber in order to furnish a room which represents the soul of the forest.
Again, thank you so much for that amazing opportunity. I enjoyed it immensely.