Highlights From Design Indaba 2020

design indaba

COMPILED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring IMAGES courtesy of Design Indaba

This year, Design Indaba celebrated its 25th anniversary, bringing with it a selection of inspiring speakers from across the globe. Below are just some of 2020’s many highlights.

Sho Madjozi

The multitalented Sho Madjozi celebrated her heritage during her opening talk, taking Design Indaba attendees on a historical journey of the xibelani, a traditional Tsonga skirt. “If history teaches us anything, it’s that culture evolves,” she says. “We shouldn’t try and museum-ify our culture, we should interact with it.”


Vukheta Mukhari

Civil engineer Vukheta Mukhari, has together with his team at the University of Cape Town, grown the first biobrick from human urine, something that could change the construction industry and make it more sustainable in future. Read more about this project at news.uct.ac.za.

Patrick Thomas

Graphic artist Patrick Thomas shared his work, including the Protest Stencil Toolkit, a book that contained 42 stencils and a range of protest graphics for activists to use when creating posters.

He also talked about Open Collab 2.0, a web-based tool created to enable real time collaboration between creatives. You can experiment with it here: open-collab.org.

Hanif Kara

Design and structural engineer Hanif Kara has played a role in the realisation of some of the world’s most fascinating buildings, including the Heydar Aliyev Center by Zaha Hadid Architects and The Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Discover more here: akt-uk.com.

Heydar Aliyev Centre by Zaha Hadid Architects

The Vessel by Heatherwick Studio

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 by BIG

Bas Timmer

Philanthropic fashion designer Bas Timmer is behind the design of the Sheltersuit and the Shelterbag, two durable designs made from upcycled materials that protect the homeless from the cold. The Sheltersuit is made from windproof and waterproof materials and functions as both a jacket and a sleeping bag, while the Shelterbag is made for warmer, rainy weather conditions. A plan for the Shelterbag to be rolled out in South Africa is currently underway. Find out more at sheltersuit.org.

Video via sheltersuit.org

Sunny Dolat

“Beauty confronts us, we never really confront it,” says creative director and cultural producer Sunny Dolat. He shared his performance project Their Finest Robes, The Children Shall Return, created in collaboration with The Nest Collective, which showcased 56 looks from every country on the African continent, including São Tomé and Príncipe and the African diaspora. Follow Sunny on Instagram to view more of his work.

Video via N’GOLÁ on Vimeo

Yosuke Ushigome of Takram

Yosuke Ushigome, director and creative technologist at design studio Takram, took us through a range of projects, including OTO, an integrated health platform that displays body metrics in a visual way. According to Takram, “What is unique about OTO is not the individual components (namely, a body analyser, health tracker, weather forecast, and training plan) but how they connect to each other to create an experience that supplements your lifestyle, rather than dominating it.” We interviewed Takram’s co-founder and partner Kinya Tagawa, here. Find out more about Takram’s work at takram.com.

Olimpia Zagnoli

“Drawing for me is a way to think,” says Olimpia Zagnoli, who shared her colourful illustrations, created for the likes of The New Yorker, Prada and Uniqlo, to name a few. Read our Q&A with her here and see more of her work at olimpiazagnoli.com.

Selassie Atadika

Experiential chef Selassie Atadika aims to unite people through food and believes that “food has power”. She hosts nomadic dining experiences across Ghana. Every meal ends with her hand-crafted artisanal chocolates, made with local ingredients.

Robert Wong

One of the projects shared by Robert Wong, co-founder of Google Creative Lab, showcased a project that made use of more than 107 000 solar mirrors to create a portrait of Apollo 11 computer programmer Margaret Hamilton. See the project come together here:

Video via Google on YouTube

Lonneke Gordijn of Studio Drift

Studio Drift, a multidisciplinary design studio based in The Netherlands, shared a range of the practice’s work, including Flylight, a lighting installation designed to mimic the behaviour of a flock of starlings. See more here and discover further work at studiodrift.com.

Sunu Gonera

Award-wining Zimbabwean filmmaker Sunu Gonera shared a teaser for his first African feature-length film, 15 years in the making. Take a peek:

Riding with Sugar Teaser Trailer

15 years in the making. Dreams come true. Riding in the sweet spot. Afrofuturism. It takes a tribe. Telling our stories in our own voice. Our stories matter. We matter. Who are you?

Posted by Riding with Sugar on Thursday, 27 February 2020



Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu of Neri&Hu

Lyndon Neri & Rossana Hu of architectural design practice Neri&Hu showcased a few of their stand-out projects, including the Tsingpu Yangzhou Retreat, the Aranya Art Center in Qinhuangdao and the New Shanghai Theatre. See more of the studio’s work at neriandhu.com.

Aranya Art Center, Qinhuangdao. Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute

New Shanghai Theatre, Shanghai. Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute

Suzhou Chapel, Suzhou. Image credit: Pedro Pegenaute

Jakob Trollbäck

Designer Jakob Trollbäck shared the communication language he was tasked to design for the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals and subsequent 169 targets to create a better world by 2030. Below the result, what Jakob likes to call The Periodic Table of Change. See more projects at trollback.com.

Mazbahul Islam

Social entrepreneur Mazbahul Islam co-founded Safewheel, a tricycle ambulance project that provides rural communities in Bangladesh with medical support. Find out more at safewheel.xyz.

Ibrahim Mahama

Artist and author Ibrahim Mahama took us through his monumental installations, which often make use of jute sacks collected from market spaces throughout Ghana. For Ibrahim, the history of architecture and materials are a big focus, as well as its relation to labour conditions in modern society. Check out our Q&A with him here.

Check Point Sekondi Loco. 1901-2030.

Paul Cocksedge

Designer Paul Cocksedge not only showcased previous work created by his studio, including a sculptural wooden bench installation in London that made use of upcycled scaffolding planks, but also unveiled a new project he’s working on in Cape Town, namely a bridge in the Upper Liesbeek River Garden. See more projects at paulcocksedgestudio.com.

Please Be Seated

Upper Liesbeek River Garden bridge

Jeanne Gang

Award-winning architect Jeanne Gang of architectural practice Studio Gang, focuses on sustainability and making cities more habitable and community-focused. See 5 stand-out projects here.

Image credit: Steve Hall / Hall Merrick

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