In my last post THE SPEAKERS: MY DESIGN INDABA EXPERIENCE I took you through my 10 favourite speakers at this year’s biggest design conference, Design Indaba. In today’s post I’m going to take you through another part of the conference, THE EMERGING CREATIVE PROGRAMME, and tell you who my favourites were.
The programme was founded by Design Indaba in 2005 to nurture new creative talent and break down barriers to entry for those just getting started, by supporting young creatives who have relatively little industry exposure.
“The Class of 2018, made up of young architects, fashion designers, illustrators, furniture designers, jewellers, graphic designers and multi-disciplinary mavericks, were selected based on the quality and originality of their work and its ability to stand alongside world-class designs. Of the 50 young designers, 40 showcased their work in Cape Town at the Artscape Theatre Centre at Design Indaba from 21 to 23 February, with a further 10 showing at LISOF, as part of the Design Indaba Johannesburg Simulcast 2018.”
I will be honest with y’all, before turning up for the conference I didn’t know this was even a thing and I only found out when it was announced by the hosts on the first day. Excited to see what it was all about I headed to the area they were exhibiting, on the evening of the first day, and I’m glad to announce that I was pleasantly surprised and extremely inspired. If these 40 designers are the future of African design let me just assure y’all that Africa is going to do just fine, scratch that, its going to do GREAT!!!
So here’s a look at my THREE favourite emerging designers from this year’s Design Indaba conference, who coincidentally are from three different fields; Interior (of course), graphic and fashion.
THE INTERIOR/FURNITURE DESIGNER: SIFISO SHANGE
That first evening I visited the area the Emerging Designers were exhibiting in I passed a stand that had the most creative, attention grabbing yet simple furniture I’d ever seen. Don’t believe me? Here’s a picture of the actual stand:
Unfortunately there was no one at the stand and after lingering around like a lost puppy waiting for someone to turn up I had to leave to watch the first African showcase of South Africa’s neo-western movie Five Fingers of Marseilles and its panel discussion (hands down the best western I’ve EVER watched, check out the trailer below) but I promised myself I would be back the next day to find out more about the genius behind these pieces.
Day two of the conference came and went, filled with inspiring talks, mingling with designers from all over the world and a lovely dinner with two friends I met and ended up bonding with. That meant that I had no time to go back to the emerging designer’s and find out about the designer behind the stand.
But on Day three, after bravely pushing back tears after the conference was officially declared over, I was determined not to let any distractions get in my way and I went in search of the designer.
So I get to the stand and guess what? There’s no one there again.
I was starting to feel like the universe just didn’t want me to know who was behind these spectacular pieces and just before I completely gave up and walked sorrowfully into the distance with the Titanic theme song playing in the background a man came running down a flight of stairs;
“Excuse me, excuse me! Hi! Sorry I had just stepped out for just a second. I’m Sifiso and you are?”
That was to be the beginning of one of the best conversations I’d had the whole conference. Here’s what I learned from our talk, that together with his amazing furniture, has earned him the right to be on my list of favourites:
Sifiso Shange, one of the three finalists of the design reality television show, Win A Home
, is the founder and creative director of S DESIGN STUDIO, a Johannesburg Modern African Design Studio Bespoke Furniture line that also handles Interior and Art Design projects. As a self-professed “new age Zulu” man he combines traditional African craft with new age thinking in all his works.
“Design for me is a way of life, it brings happiness, value and meaning to my life. I aim to change lives through my work and expose the world to my vision. I believe that my work is a story to inspire, motivate and cultivate a strong sense of faith and hope.I am God’s vessel to create beauty on earth and to inspire others.”
Perfect example of this is the MUHLE MUHLE collection. The first collection where he experimented with bold colour choices, that tells a story about a woman’s beauty through zulu bead work motif.
“Her beauty, ubhuhle bakhe is her essence. she is life and love in perfect harmony. She is beauty, muhle”
Oh and before I forget to mention, Sifiso also designs contemporary sneakers.
Why sneakers you may ask?
Well, he’s as passionate about them as he is furniture and interiors and it also works hand in hand with his vision of his design studio that would collaborate with various design disciplines, to create products ranging from furniture, clothing, sneakers and create spaces that contribute in spheres of creativity and social development.
So it goes without saying that he’s on my list not only because of his passion for design, his beautiful products but also because he sees design as an avenue to spread his message.
Just like AMNA ELSHANDAWEELY, the Egyptian fashion designer who I mentioned as one of my favourite speakers in my last post THE SPEAKERS: MY DESIGN INDABA EXPERIENCE, he sees design as much more than just aesthetics, it’s not just art for art’s sake, it a way to spread a message and for both of them it’s one that tells the story of Africa, and I’m so here for it!
INSTAGRAM: @sdesignstudio_sa and @sifiso_s
PHONE: +27 74 853 6944
THE GRAPHIC DESIGNER: THAAKIERAH ABDUL
As I walked away from having a lovely conversation with graphic designer, Thaakierah Abdul I remember thinking that I had just met my baby sister. I loved everything that’s Thaakierah from her bold graphics, to her unconventional choice of medium, to her welcoming/bubbly personality and her passionate message.
So Thaakierah if you read this just know that I’m officially your big sister, whether you want me or not!
Okay enough of forcing family relations and back to the reason of this post, why she (my baby sister Thaakierah) was one of my top three favourite emerging designers at this year’s Design Indaba.
As a graphic designer she is the perfect example of those artists who do not believe in following the rules and successfully forges their own path. She paints bold graphics on everyday items such as pots, pans and plates. These graphics and the choice of medium speak of her heritage and her position now as a young woman in South Africa.
On the last day of the conference when I was heading to Sifiso’s stand I passed her captivating stand with an array of bold fonts in bright radiant colours and couldn’t help myself but stop. As I stood there taking it all in I got to meet the bubbly artist who explained to me her art and how she uses it as a form of social activism.
“I use my work to relay a message about me and my world. I’m from the Cape Malay community and we’ve been marginalised for years and isolated in the social sphere of Stellenbosch. I aim to speak my culture into existence in order for it to gain the recognition it deserves.”
By now its easy to see that there seems to be a running theme when it comes to how I choose my favourites. They have to have a stance on something and use their art as their outlet. Looking at Thaakierah work it’s easy to see that she has something to say and she’s choosing to unapologetically shout it out through her vibrant graphics and I commend her for it.
THE FASHION DESIGNER: BALINI NAIDOO
When I was talking to Balini praising her for her fashion line, she admited to me that she was completely exhausted from the events of the last couple of days.
“It’s been such a long week filled with meeting people every minute here and going to TV interviews nearly everyday. Not that I’m complaining but I do need a good two days to just rest and reflect on all the amazing things that have happened because right now I’m just running on auto-pilot. I didn’t expect all the overwhelming positive reactions I have been getting because when I came up with this concept in university it seemed completely natural to me. So when people praise it and myself in turn I’m always taken a back and it’ll take some getting used to. ”
I knew right there and then that this BTech: Fashion & Textile Design graduate from Durban University of Technology, was not only one of my favourite emerging designers but will be a force to be reckoned with. She’s created such an innovative line yet is completely humble about it. That’s the true mark of a real designer/artist, someone who’s purpose is to fulfil a need/solve a problem and not to gain fame.
You must be wondering what about her designs has sparked such overwhelming interest and what is this need she has fullfilled/problem she’s solved is?
Well, the answer is the second reason why Balini was one of my favourites as she, a supporter of the National Council for the Blind, has worked hard in making clothing accessible for those who are blind. Her designs help people who are sigh-impaired identify what they’re putting on by designing a braille identification system, which is then printed on clothing.
“I believe that fashion and clothing is a form of expression. There is evidently a gap in the market when it comes to blind individuals and I decided to do something about it this my LOST IN TRANSLATION COLLECTION that’s Braille clothing for the Blind.”
When I discovered her and her innovative fashion brand my first thought was I should be shamed for never having taken a second to consider how the blind are able to select their clothing. I’m privileged enough to be able to read a label and know what size the outfit is, what material its made out of etc but never have I ever considered those who don’t have a way of getting this information without assistance.
So while the rest of us were taking this for granted Balini, who has a blind family member, was doing something about it and that ladies and gentlmen is definitely commendable.
So whats your take on these three brilliant emerging designers? Do you agree with me that they are amazing and a true inspiration to us all? Did you attend the Design Indaba’s conference and if so who would your three favourite emerging designers be? Leave a COMMENT BELOW and let me know.
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Till my next post be sure to Be Inspired…Be you!
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