Decorex 2024: Designing for Impact and a Sustainable Future

Decorex 2024: Designing for Impact and a Sustainable Future
Pedersen + Lennard's innovative recycled board made from 'unrecyclable' plastics (such as toothpaste tubes and cling film).

WORDS Gina Dionisio PHOTOS Supplied

As the continent’s leading decor and design showcase, Decorex Africa is marking its commitment to thinking outside of the box. This year’s theme, Designing for Impact, aims to highlight design as a powerful tool for change through the lens of sustainability.

Decorex Cape Town (6 to 9 June 2024 at the CTICC) and Decorex Joburg (1 to 4 August 2024 at the Sandton Convention Centre), will kickstart a weekend of presentations, showcasing everything new in South African design.

Anchored by this year’s theme, Designing for Impact, both shows will focus on the societal and planetary impact of design, with a spotlight firmly on exhibitors to making sustainable choices and encouraging waste reduction.

“We all need to step out of our comfort zones, and embrace innovative approaches that recognise the power of our collective impact,” says Bielle Bellingham, Executive Creative Director of Decorex Africa. ”This year’s theme acknowledges that design is an attitude of resourcefulness and resilience, and should reflect a holistic, and robust approach to problem-solving for our country and robust approach to problem-solving for our country and continent”.

We’ve highlighted a few South African creatives and collectives who, like Decorex Africa, are stepping in and making changes.

Circular Squared

Many of the goals of accelerating the circular economy in Africa through design are discernible in Circular Squared – a Cape Town-based non-profit that champions circular economic thinking and urges aspiring entrepreneurs in manufacturing and retail to adopt regenerative practices. 

Decorex 2024
From Jeans to Chair by PLANQ who, along with VISI, are proud sustainable design partners of Circular Squared.

The Head of Sustainable Design at Circular Squared, veteran artist and designer Heath Nash, is dedicated to turning one man’s trash into another’s treasure. He is working with local furniture brand Wunders to find solutions to the heaps of scraps produced on a day-to-day basis as a result of manufacturing.

Family-owned Wunders previously partnered with Decorex Africa’s Future Talks series in 2023, where it supplied brightly coloured seating made using its own factory’s waste materials. 

Pedersen + Lennard

Local furniture brand Pedersen + Lennard – which unveiled its Umpire range at 100% Design Joburg 2023 – is working towards reducing the environmental impact of plastic waste.

Decorex 2024
The Atlantic Beach Chair and Atlantic Side Table were developed at the Pedersen + Lennard Design Week Challenge (DWC).

In 2023, the studio pioneered furniture that incorporates a recycled board made from plastics that are considered ‘unrecyclable’(such as toothpaste tubes and cling film). It has released a new range of public seating for the V&A Waterfront made from this recycled material. Co-founder Luke Pedersen participated in the 2023 edition of Future Talks where he touched upon the importance of building community in design and business to facilitate broader conversations of impact. 

Urban-Think Tank Empower (UTTE)

Focusing on spatial development for society is Urban-Think Tank Empower (UTTE), a non-profit organisation which emerged from Urban-Think Tank Design Group, an international collective that uses the power of architecture and design to uplift the lives of marginalised communities worldwide.

Decorex 2024
Building 1000 homes is the next phase of UTTE’s vision and mission.

UTTE employs a unique collaborative, research-led design approach to provide decent, affordable housing for all – the fruit of which is a modular housing unit which allows the owner to adapt the layout to suit their specific needs. 


Another company paving the way in social impact architecture is The MAAK, an award-winning architectural practice based in Cape Town that focuses on public buildings and spaces that yield a positive outcome for communities.

Decorex 2024
The MAAK’s New Rest Valley Crèche.

”The less we engage in the social issues of our time, the more we breed a public apathy towards architecture and in turn dilute the urgency of our craft,” it says. The MAAK’s New Rest Valley Crèche is an early childhood development (ECD) centre for The Vuya Foundation, and the first completed formal public infrastructure in the New Rest Valley near Riebeek-Kasteel. 

The Ramp

Based in Cape Town, The Ramp is a multidisciplinary project space that challenges conventional means of institutional access to the arts by bringing creative practitioners together.

Decorex 2024
The Ramp’s Ready To Launch Exhibition (Photo: Ben Mall).

The Ramp connects creatives with the goal of sharing collective knowledge and resources – and invites the public to get involved – to produce more impactful work.

Decorex Cape Town and Joburg

Experience this active shift towards impact design for yourself and join the designers and creatives paving the way to the future at Decorex Cape Town (6 to 9 June 2024 at the CTICC) and Decorex Joburg (1 to 4 August 2024 at the Sandton Convention Centre). |

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