Over 350,000 people representing 60 different cultures attended the London Design festival, and everyone who visited experienced it differently. With over 300 events throughout the festival, all exhibiting design that is an assault on the senses, there are limitless opportunities to experience design.
Being a South African, and seeing the creativity through the cultural lens of someone accustomed to different styles, budgets, timeframes and context, provides an entirely unique perspective on the festival.
Juxtaposition of Traditional vs. Modern
London design is all about marrying old with new. London is a city with a huge amount of history, you can see this in its century old buildings and art works. Old brick structures next to new glass buildings. Traditional art next to experimental design. The Victoria & Albert museum, which served as the hub of the festival (pictured above), provided an excellent platform to showcase the English style of contrasting old with new.
Culture vs. Culture
South African design uses juxtaposition as well, and in an entirely different way. Popular South African design celebrates our different cultures that live and breathe within the nation; Xhosa and Zulu and Afrikaans are put next to each other to create eclectic, colorful design.
Pure Design vs. Contextual Design
South African and London design differ in fundamental ways as well as in the aesthetic.
English graphic designers are primarily male, while South African’s are mostly women. In London, design is viewed as academic as much as it is creative, where as in South Africa, the theory behind the design is not as valued as such. London design is incredibly considered and planned out whereas in South Africa style is eclectic and diverse and messy in a good way.
The largest fundamental differences between the two lie in the resources available to each country. This is the most shocking difference that a South African will notice at the London Design festival. Everything is done on a blue sky scale. Designers have huge budgets and long stretches of time to explore and experiment. It’s not unusual for a designer to get funded for a year at a time to explore a design concept. The Candela pictured below was a huge exhibit, using traditional and cutting edge materials to show the standard unit of luminous intensity on a large scale.
In South Africa the luxury of time and budget to create massive projects like this do not exist, designers must often work out of very small budgets with little time. This results in the use of resources in an out-of-the-box creative and innovative way. The majority of South African design focuses on using materials and budgets towards solving societal problems. In a country with a developing economy it is important to use limited resources to advance economically, socially or politically.
In London design exists for designs sake; in South Africa most design cannot exist without a purpose. South African design is always full of meaning and context.
All of these fundamental differences can easily be seen when looking at how the different styles each manifest themselves. England with pure, clean minimal design aesthetic and South Africa with contextual, raw design.
Circular Influence of Design
London design may be very different from South African design but it’s inspiring to see how we can influence each other despite the differences. For years South Africa has looked to the rest of the world as leaders in design. The large-scale, innovative designs in London have and will continue to inspire us. But now it’s time for London and the rest of the world to turn to South Africa for something they may be missing – meaning and context behind every design. We have seen this borrowed by the maker’s movement and in the changing goals of the D&AD to focus on sustainability through design (The white pencil award). We hope to see it throughout many new design projects across the world. Design inspiration has come full circle. South Africa is being looked at as the next, fresh, inspiring design capital. The London design festival showcases striking design but it also shows us that we can all influence and inspire each other.
By Nix Harwood and Shelby Szuba
It’s quite possible that the high of Open Design Cape Town has never really left the team of Infestation, but has merely been collected into a small inspiration reservoir ready for the next Open Design because we know 2014 is going to be big. And how do we know this? The numbers don’t lie.
The inaugural Open Design Cape Town event set the tone and made its mark to show that it was here to stay – and as the brand and marketing custodians, we couldn’t be prouder of the success we accomplished in such a small space of time:
Anchor Events: 12 | Total Events: 81 | Venues: 38 (throughout Cape Town) | Visitors through City Hall: 5 815 (21 – 31 August 2013) | Visitors through participating events: 1500 (21 – 31 August)
Events that broke attendance records: Pecha Kucha Cape Town (680) | Creative Mornings Cape Town with Bruno Morphet (122) | Future Cape Town Open City mini-conference (120) | Open Architectural Studios (15 studios) |
Media Exposure: R5 million (July 2013 – August 2013) | Facebook Likes: Over 1000 likes before event had started | Twitter Followers: Over 500 followers before event had started.
Unique Visitors to www.opendesignct.com: 11 456 (July 2013 – August 2013) | Page views on www.opendesignct.com: 72 622 (July 2013 – August 2013) | Total visits to www.opendesignct.com: 20 263 (July 2013 – August 2013)
What’s happening in 2014?
We can’t let on to too much, but what we can tell you is that we’re looking at extending the duration of the festival and hoping to create more platforms through which creative minds can showcase their work.
The year of Cape Town as World Design Capital is around the corner, and with design media attention turning to Cape Town, Open Design Cape Town 2014 can only be bigger and better, a through-the-year platform for everybody to engage with.
So, what will you be sharing next year?
Subscribe to the Open Design Cape Town newsletter to make sure you’re the first to know what’s happening in 2014!
Creative innovation with the up and coming design talent, at Tent London yesterday, is inspiring and thought provoking. Young creatives from around the globe show cased their wares, earning Tent London the deserved title of being a beacon for discovering the best contemporary design.
It was also great to experience the interest Europe has in African Design, as witnessed by the turnout at the Graphic Africa Event at Habitat last night. The Habitat Visual Merchandisers, who organised the event, heralded it a true success!
To end off this incredible day, we attended the London Design Festival Party at the V&A, where we had the pleasure to meet some of the design greats, the highlights being Neville Brody and Ross Lovegrove.
London Design Festival Highlights
Post by Nix Harwood
London is currently awash with creativity. Throughout the city, event organisers, design shops and brands are touting their creative wears through the London Design Festival platform (a lot like Cape Town’s Open Design Festival).
The Infestation team have been furiously traveling around London, bravely attempting to take in as many of the festivities as possible.
Our London Design Festival highlights include soaking ourselves in art, design and culture at the V&A Museum, the signature location for the festival. We also attended the full day Global Design Forum, where we opened our minds to the wisdom of the industry greats; Peter Saville, Ross Lovegrove and Sir John Hegarty. And today we walked the many miles of isles of 100% Design Expo and celebrated the WDC Cape Town Networking event.
Today marks the half way point of the London Design Festival, with many more exciting upcoming events.
London Design Festival Highlights