Highlights From Design Indaba 2019

COMPILED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES courtesy of Design Indaba

After three inspiring days, the annual Design Indaba Festival has come to a close.

This year’s conference, which once again brought together speakers from across the globe, was packed with amazing examples of design ingenuity, great ideas and stellar performances. Here are just a few of the many things that stood out.

NM Type

María Ramos and Noel Pretorius of type foundry NM Type always wanted to create a typeface inspired by dance. This led them to dancer Andile Vellem, whose movements they tracked and reinterpreted to create a unique font. Aptly called Movement, the font is available to download for free at nmtype.com/movement.

Nicole Nomsa Moyo

This award-winning Design Indaba Global Graduate took us through her thesis, UKUBUTHA, a project that focuses on uplifting communities through the creation of waste-to-energy systems. You can read more about her internationally recognised thesis here.

Keenan Wyrobek

The founder of Zipline, the world’s first drone delivery service, together with the Zipline team based in Rwanda, took us through how the largest drone delivery network in the world delivers life-saving blood to remote areas. The drones have flown over one million kilometres and have delivered over 17 000 units of blood so far. Find out more at flyzipline.com.

Image credit: flyzipline.com

Dave Hakkens

Designer Dave Hakkens, whose project Precious Plastic we featured here, has made the blueprints for his plastic recycling machines available for free online, giving anyone interested in recycling plastic the instructions to build their own and create new upcycled objects. Here’s how it works:

Video credit: davehakkens on YouTube

Dong-Ping Wong

Architect and founder of design firm FOOD shared the + POOL project, a floating pool designed to filter the river water that surrounds it. See more about this project at pluspool.org.

Image credit: Family New York, Courtesy of Friends of + POOL

During his talk, he attempted to design a city in 15 minutes, drawing a blueprint live in collaboration with renowned fashion designer and Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh, who Dong-Ping video called during the talk.


Launched at Design Indaba, IKEA’s ÖVERALLT collection, which we featured here, sees the Swedish brand collaborate with designers, architects and artists from five African countries, including Issa Diabaté, Selly Raby Kane, Laduma Ngxokolo, Renee Rossouw and Sindiso Khumalo. While there are no plans at this stage to stock the collection in South Africa, it will launch in existing IKEA stores globally in May 2019.

ÖVERALLT bench in stained solid Eucalyptus. Designer: Naeem Biviji and Bethan Rayneri and Mikael Axelsson.

ÖVERALLT easy chair in Birch plywood. Designer: Issa Diabaté and Kevin Gouriou. Cushion cover: Laduma Ngxokolo.

Rodrigo García González

Making packaging disappear is a goal for this inventor, designer, architect and engineer of Skipping Rocks Lab. One of the firm’s projects is Ooho!. It stores liquids in edible, sustainable and biodegradable packaging made from seaweed extract. Find out more here.

Pascale Theron

This Design Indaba Global Graduate is interested in the use of feathered fabrics. Using ostrich feathers as thread, the textiles she creates are breathable, washable and lightweight, making them an ideal interior fabric, perfect for throws, wall hangings and curtains. Her aim is to create a new industry that not only gives back to the community of Oudtshoorn, but also allows ostriches to live their full lifespans.

Ane Crabtree

For costume designer Ane Crabtree, who is behind the design of the iconic attire in the hit series The Handmaid’s Tale, it’s important not to let others put you into little boxes, unless it’s the ones you create yourself. Read our Q&A with her here.

ane crabtree

Image credit: Nathan Cyprys

John Pawson

Architect and designer John Pawson CBE, known for his calm, simple spaces, took us through his immense body of work that spans three decades, including the Design Museum in London and a monastery in the Czech Republic.

Image credit: Gareth Gardner

Mariam Kamara

Mariam Kamara is an architect and founder of Niger-based architecture and research firm atelier masōmī. She shared a range of her practice’s projects, including a renovated mosque and a market, both located in Dandaji. Find a snippet of our Q&A with her here. You can read the full interview in VISI’s 100th issue.

Image credit: Maurice Ascani

Wanuri Kahiu

The Nairobi-born film director, World Economic Forum cultural leader and founder of media company AfroBubbleGum shared her work, including the internationally acclaimed film Rafiki, which has sadly been banned in Kenya. Watch the trailer below:

Video credit: IndieWire on YouTube

Mirjam de Bruijn

This Design Indaba Global Graduate is behind the design of Twenty, a sustainability-focused project that focuses on reducing the amount of water used in household products, thereby reducing the amount of packaging used, as well as CO2 emissions as a result of transport. The idea is to provide these products in capsule or powder form, only adding the water later.

Image credit: Femke Rijerman Video credit: Mirjam de Bruijn on YouTube

Tshepo Mokholo

Architect and designer Tsepho Mokholo, a Design Indaba Global Graduate and former Design Indaba Emerging Creative, who now works for architecture firm MASS Design Group, shared the Ruhehe Primary School project in Rwanda. The school was designed with improving learner outcomes top of mind.

Image credit: massdesigngroup.org

Yuri Suzuki

This designer, artist and musician, who believes sound is a strong communication tool, designed Sonic Playground, an interactive installation at the HIGH Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, that transmits sound in fun, engaging ways.

Image credit: yurisuzuki.com

Adebayo Oke-Lawal

Nigerian fashion designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal, who is behind the brand Orange Culture, firmly believes that fashion can be used as a tool for social change (read more about the brand here). He gave us a sneak peek of his A/W collection:

Image credit: orangecultureeng on Instagram


Creative directors Tin&Ed are known for their digital projects, but this restaurant space they designed, inspired by spirals, caught our attention.

David Droga

Founder and creative chairman of creative and strategic agency Droga5 believes great ideas can break down walls. He shared some of the work Droga5 has created, including a clever ad campaign for Tourism Australia. Playing off as a trailer for a sequel to 1986 film Crocodile Dundee, the ad was actually created to drive an interest in tourism. Here is a shortened version of the mock trailer:

Video credit: Australia on YouTube

For more information about Design Indaba, visit designindaba.com.