We have been delighted to media partner with the southern hemisphere’s biggest creative conference Design Indaba for the past three years. The event was covered via numerous articles on It’s Nice That, banner advertising and coverage in our printed magazine, Printed Pages. Here you can find all our coverage of the event including reviews, interviews and comment pieces.
If you encounter one of the speakers before they take to the stage at Design Indaba the sense of fear is palpable. Whether they are 18 or 80, at the outset of their career or a seasoned pro, there is a feeling of anticipation and adrenaline that radiates from each individual. There are many factors that cause this: the size of the audience (2500 in the auditorium, and the hundreds viewing the simulcasts around the country); the scope and stature of the people who have ventured into the spotlight at the event before them; and the fact that they have been challenged to produce a presentation that goes beyond simply presenting work they have completed – to do something original on stage.
“Don’t combine Rock and Roll with professionalism” was a friendly word of warning from Stockholm based creative agency Snask. Founders Erik Kockum and Fredrik Öst closed the second day of Design Indaba arriving on stage in a car and bringing the band Väg (which translates as ‘road’ in English) on with them. After asking the audience to don pink masks and ignoring their own advice, they combined rock and roll and professionalism with shambolic style.
This summer, athletes from around the world will descend on Rio for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games. The festival of sport has become a behemoth of an institution that is sold as a catalyst for regeneration, a celebration of culture and societal values, a metaphor for global brotherhood as well a series of competitions to determine who run fast or throw things furthest. The five ringed symbol of the Olympics was designed in 1912 by Pierre de Coubertin and remains a constant. Alongside this, every host city commissions a design that embodies the spirit of the games and the culture of the nation.
NB Studio founders Nick Finney and Alan Dye have turned their hand to playwriting. Their production Turning the Tables was premiered in Cape Town as part of Design Indaba. The story revolves around a pitch by a self-nominated “creative genius” called Peter – who offers gems of wisdom such as “The client needs bullshit, subtlety is wasted on the client.” – and Jo, who he is presenting to. “Peter is a bit of everybody, he has hopes and fears and dreams,” says Nick. “He has anxieties, charm, he’s creative… he’s got an ego,” adds Alan. “He’s Not Nick and I. Both the characters are an amalgamation of ideas.”
Design Indaba kicks off in Cape Town this week, and as Media Partner It’s Nice That will be reporting from the event, speaking with leading figures from the design world and keeping an eye out for new talent. Below is a round-up of the events we are particularly looking forward to this week.
Next week in Cape Town, the 2016 Design Indaba festival will get under way in a renewed format. The event will be live broadcast via simulcast to a number of South African cities, allowing each presentation to resonate around the country.
Since 2014, It’s Nice That has partnered with the world’s largest design conference, Design Indaba, that brings together thousands of delegates and fantastic line-up of speakers each year in Cape Town. To kick off our 2016 partnership we interview founder Ravi Naidoo about the inspiration and ambition behind the endeavour.
Dan Wieden is at a party. It’s being held in the Presidential Suite of a hotel in Cape Town and the views from the 17th floor balcony, across the city to Table Mountain, are insane. There’s a bar in one corner and decks off to one side, but no DJ. Dan and his wife arrive and stroll through the throng to a raised decking area. The party is aware that he’s here but everyone pretends not to have noticed. Be cool. The 69-year-old is the founder of the world’s largest independent advertising agency, Wieden + Kennedy, that he set up in Portland, Oregon in 1982. In the early days it was a small operation; he and David Kennedy put in $500 and rented a basement room that didn’t even have a phone. “We had a payphone at the end of the hallway and we’d run down there if the damn thing rang,” he remembers, then puts on a super slick ad-land tone. “Hello Wieden + Kennedy.” He says the company’s growth baffles him. “We’re a success story that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. We’re a cosmic joke.”
Yoni Bloch talks quickly. The musician, interactive music video pioneer and former American Idol (Israeli version) judge has just been speaking to 2,000 people at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town for nearly an hour, but still the words come pouring out, one thought tripping over the next in the headlong scramble to get into the world. It’s electrifying, and slightly overwhelming.
There’s a moment in this film where Michael Bierut comes over all Hayley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense as he declares: “ I can see things in typefaces that normal people can’t.” It’s part of his discussion about how “design can be a lonely thing” and that as you immerse yourself in that world “you’re actually making yourself less normal than regular people.” Filmed at Design Indaba in South Africa last month, this interesting short film moves onto to look at logos and why designers are so interested in them. Using famous examples like the Nike swoosh and the Target, um, target, Michael explains his theory that we’re drawn to them because they’re primitive and yet we invest them with so much meaning. “A lot of what we see when we’re looking at the logo isn’t really happening in the logo; it happens in our own mind,” he explains.
Michael Bierut is a designer, Pentagram partner, writer, lecturer and self-confessed nerd. Taking the stage at the Design Indaba festival in Cape Town yesterday, he announced his new book, pithily titled How to: Use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, and (every once in a while) change the world. Published by Thames & Hudson it won’t come out until later in the year, but we felt it was a good excuse to look at some of Michael’s most interesting work from across the years. Like his friend and mentor Massimo Vignelli, Michael has excelled in designing for some of New York’s most venerable institutions (including Grand Central Station and the New York Jets). They don’t come much more venerable than The Times for whom Michael worked on graphics across the building. On one end of the spectrum is the huge The New York Times signage on the front of the offices which is designed to look solid but allows those inside to see out. At the other, Michael and his team rebranded all the meeting room signs using images sourced from the Times archive.
Michael is one of the very best at putting into words both the joys and challenges graphic designers face. He talks about the identity for MAD with characteristic self-deprecation, and happily showed the Indaba crowd some, er, less successful early iterations. In the end the solution was all built around a simple block typeface which could be rolled out across various collateral and change according to context, while retaining its innate communicative sense. Church signage may not sound like the sexiest design commission going, but Michael’s work for the Cathedral Church of St John The Divine bucked the trend. He led an extensive branding project for the church across both print and digital platforms with an identifier which referenced the cathedral’s stained glass windows and a new version of Frederic Goudy‘s black-letter text from 1928, which he had based on Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible. These signs were produced for the annual St Francis Day blessing of the animals, encouraging god-fearing dog-lovers to keep their pets under control. From one revered place of New York worship to another, Michael’s work for Saks Fifth Avenue was centred on a redrawing of the cursive logo with type designer Joe Finocchiaro and then splitting it into 64 tiles. By shuffling and rotating the tiles there were millions of combinations the designers could then draw on, and each individual image retained both aesthetic interest and communicative cohesion. As well as being one of the world’s leading designers, Michael writes brilliantly about graphic design. Graphic Design Criticism As Spectator Sport is a lucid demolition of the feeding frenzies we see play out whenever a new logo seems to be launched.
The third and final day of Design Indaba in Cape Town promised a great deal with its eclectic line-up, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. From advertising royalty to reinventing public filmmaking, Saturday Night Live to Dick In A Box it was a heady mix of the inspiring, the entertaining and the enlightening. Catch up on all our coverage here.
Another super-busy day in Cape Town saw a thrilling range of creative practitioners take to the Design Indaba stage where they treated us to an amazing array of creative insights. You can check out our Day 1 highlights here – featuring ovulation, orchids and Burning Man – or read on to see our best moments from today.
Design Indaba is one of the most eclectic creative conferences around and the first day in Cape Town did not disappoint. It’s hard to distill so much design wisdom into a round-up but here’s a few of the highlights as we saw them from the first day in South Africa.
There is now just over a week to go until the 2015 Design Indaba conference kicks off in Cape Town. As media partner It’s Nice That will be there throughout the three-day inspiration bing, bringing you the best visuals and most interesting ideas shared from the stage. The full-line-up has now been confirmed and here’s our pick of ten (plus one for luck) of the talks we’re particularly looking forward to listening to. You can also access talks from previous years on the Design Indaba website New York-based filmmaker who is at the forefront of harnessing YouTube as a platform to get his funny, interesting and thought-provoking shorts out into the world.
www.youtube.com/user/caseyneistat Senegalese photographer whose work spans art, fashion and portrait has a confident aesthetic and an ambitious idea of what art could and should achieve.
The food industry plays an increasingly prominent part in the cultural scene, and by extension the design world. At Indaba we’ll hear from Nando’s founder Robbie Brozin and Roy Choi, who is widely credited as the godfather of the Los Angeles gourmet truck scene.
As CEO of Wolff Olins, Ije Nwokorie is well-versed in the creative landscape; the forces that shape it and in turn how it shapes our world. Describing himself as “born in the US, bred in Nigeria and enlightened in England” he also has a global sensibility that sets him apart from many of his peers.
Last year’s excellent Design Indaba conference in Cape Town saw dozens of speakers take to the stage over the course of three days of creative insight and enlightenment. The videos of the talks are in the throes of being released over on the Design Indaba site which got us feeling all nostalgic about the raft of great stuff we saw. The conference was full of memorable moments – from Thomas Heatherwick announcing the opening of a new art museum in Cape Town to Stefan Sagmeister leading the hall in song – but this is a personal selection of some of our highlights. Tom self-deprecatingly dubbed himself the warm-up act for Mr Heatherwick but his excellent talk on IDEO, behaviour and design’s ability to tackle some of society’s deepest set problems proved he was in nobody’s shadow.
See Tom’s full talk here
In the wrong hands, talks about branding can be deathly dry or toe-curlingly self-indulgent but Wolff Olins’ Ije Nwokorie showed how it should be done. The full talk is not yet available but this clip – in which Ije talks about branidng being messy – gives you a flavour of what’s to come. Alongside so many big-name luminaries, Design Indaba makes a real effort to give a platform to some of the design stars of the future. Last year’s selection was uniformly excellent but Agi Haines from The Royal College Of Art stood out for her innovative thinking and extraordinary way of thinking about design.
Watch Agi’s talk here David Goldblatt is one of the major artistic figures working in South Africa today. His spellbinding talk took a simple format – talking us through some of his favourite and most famous pictures – but the stories he has to tell are genuinely breathtaking. We can’t wait for the full film to be released. From Sagmeister to Experimental Jestet there was no shortage of graphic design talent on stage at Design Indaba. But Dean Poole’s talk really stayed with me as he talked us through how he sees creativity and showed off some of the Alt Group’s fantastic work.
Watch Dean’s full talk here
It’s Nice That is delighted to confirm that we’ll be media partnering with Design Indaba in Cape Town for a second year in 2015. The conference in February brings together thousands of delegates and a stellar line-up of speakers in the South African capital for several days of creative inspiration. And although this year’s line-up has not been released yet in full, we do know that among those taking to the stage will be ad-land legend Dan Wieden, exciting thinker Dominic Wilcox, innovative Dutch duo Studio Formafantasma and animator Ng’endo Mukii.
I have spent many hours chasing speakers around conference venues truing to secure interviews. It’s always frustrating; it can be fruitless. So at this year’s amazing Design Indaba in Cape Town, we decided to do something a little different, and when we asked speakers if they had “ a spare five minutes” we literally meant it. Five Minutes With… does exactly what it says on the tin; take great creative minds, ask them a range of questions (some silly, some more serious) and bring it all to an end around the five minute mark.
Day three of the southern hemisphere’s biggest design event is under way and once again we’ll be bringing you the highlights as they happen here in Cape Town. Today’s line-up includes Stefan Sagmeister and David Goldblatt so it promises another mass of creative insights. Sing with me now! h3. 4:00pm
Day two of Design Indaba sees another eclectic line-up of creative thinkers taking to the stage and we’ll be here throughout bringing you the best of the insight and inspiration. Let’s do this everyone, these liveblogs don’t write themselves…h3. 3:30pm
Hello from Cape Town! Design Indaba kicks off today and Editor-in-Chief Rob Alderson is there to capture the wit and wisdom, insights, inspiration and intelligence. There’s a stellar line-up coming over the next three days including Stefan Sagmeister, Thomas Heatherwick and David Goldblatt who’ll be taking the stage at the southern hemisphere’s biggest design event. h3. 3:50pm
This week ahead of his trip to South Africa for Design Indaba, Rob Alderson looks at Cape Town’s growing creative reputation and its status as this year’s World Design Capital. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below, plus any hints and tips for seeing the South African design community close-up!
2014 is a big year for Cape Town. Not only does it follow Helsinki as World Design Capital, but its flagship festival of creativity Design Indaba celebrates its 20th anniversary. And so we are delighted to announce that It’s Nice That has joined forces as a media partner for this year’s conference, generally regarded as one of the most inspirational around.