2014 Wants You

PHOTOS Ravi Gajjar WORDS Nadine Botha


Alayne Reesberg has been appointed CEO of Cape Town Design NPC, the company in charge of the World Design Capital 2014 arrangements. With less than a year to go, there are quite a few naysayers, but this woman’s energy, enthusiasm and experience have won us over. And she’s launched a call for proposals, so sharpen your pencils and get your thinking caps on!

What is Alayne Reesberg’s story? 

I grew up in the Kalahari and went to the University of Cape Town to study languages. After 12 years in the diplomatic service, I did a Master’s in communication theory and studied journalism in the United States. That led me into the Microsoft Corporation where I worked for Bill Gates. 

What is your design background? 

I may not be a designer myself, but many of my friends are, and I’ve always surrounded myself with it and been aware of it in my surroundings. I’ve lived in London and New York, and visited Portland and Boston a lot. All of those are old cities that have made big design decisions. Take the New York High Line, for instance… When I lived in New York, it was a no-go area and now it’s become a very hip area with beautiful old architecture.

What is your perception of Cape Town in terms of design? 

There are parts of Cape Town where you are really hugged by the city, but there are other parts that are transitional. It’s intangible, really, about whether your eye catches things that slow you down, or whether you speed up. With World Design Capital we will have a year-long festival of design-focused events and activities to make Cape Town better and have a tangible social impact. 

What are your plans for the World Design Capital year? 

There are six events that are a standard part of the World Design Capital. In among those six things, we have to weave in our Capetonian magic. We’ve just launched our first call for submissions under four themes, which support the bid promise of “Live Design, Transform Life”; the second call goes live in July. The submissions will be curated by a multidisciplinary panel (including VISI’s Annemarie Meintjes). Some of them may need to be developed and hopefully they will attract sponsorship, but there are already projects that deserve the recognition.

Broadly, I want to make visible what people may have a hunch about, know about or have seen, but have not experienced as a whole. The legacy of the initiative will be determined by how well we can articulate our story.

Only four days until the cut off for the first call for proposals, on 5 April 2013. The four themes are African Innovation, Global Conversation; Bridging the Divide; Today for Tomorrow; and Beautiful Spaces, Beautiful Things. For info and how to get involved, visit wdccapetown2014.com.