Design Indaba 2011 Conference: Day 2 (Live Blog)
A Cultural Experience In Cape Town, South Africa

South Africa By: Mandy J Watson on 24 February 2011
Category: Culture > Features Comments View Comments


We're on to the second day of the Design Indaba 2011 conference, which is being held in Cape Town, South Africa. This is a live blog transcript of the conference events.

Today I'm continuing my live coverage of the Design Indaba 2011 Conference from the simulcast room in Cape Town. Yesterday was a success and I'm hoping the technology will hold. (I may have to fight a few people for a power point later in the day as there aren't enough.) I'm going to work off my netbook using the Cell C Speed Stick and will update this page every few minutes, so bookmark it and/or refresh it throughout the day to see the latest coverage. Please also retweet the page link, along with the #designindaba hashtag, if you are able:

If the Internet has connection problems (which has been happening a lot lately) or the netbook battery dies I will take offline notes and post them once I get home or I might switch to Twitter and continue covering the event live. It will depend on what I feel will work better. Please keep an eye on @mandyjwatson and @brainwavez for announcements.

This page's comments thread is open so feel free to say hello and leave notes as the day progresses.

(Please excuse any typos. I'm cleaning up as I go but I'm working in a very dark room and can't really see the keyboard.)

Design Indaba Day 2: Official Welcome
* 09:10: We're starting.
* List of highlights for today and intro to the expo and its highlights.
* Thanks to sponsors.
* No photography or filming allowed but tweeting encouraged.
* "We will be keeping a tight schedule so please be on time." {cough::we've already started late::cough}
* If you have a question you can SMS the speakers (include name). Send it to 34180.
* The questions will be answered live at the conference or on the DI web site next year.
* Tweet tag: #designindaba.
* The most insightful tweet will win a Kindle.

Lessons In Creative Entrepreneurship
Design Indaba Profile: &Union (South Africa): Business/Branding/Design Thinking
Web: n/a
* "We're not designers so you can't really judge us. We make better baristas and beer salesmen than orators.
* "We see ourselves as brand builders. [...] What we try and do is find an opportunity and really explore the opportunity to the full gambit. [...] We've realised that great ideas come along [...] but building a brand takes a long time. [...] We come as consumers very humbly to our product."
* What they have learnt: focus, patience, love what you do, build a community.
* Started in 1999/2000, spent a bit of time n London, saw the macrotrend shift towards healthier food and the juice bar revolution. Returned to SA and saw big gaps in how people were eating. Started a bagel bar called Fressh Bagel Bar. Swift learning curve. They think they sold the business too soon but it gave great opportunities. Then decided to be consultants. Project: Rugby House Hotel and Kombuis restaurant in Pretoria. Realised they don't make for good service providers - don't like working for people.
* Realised there was still a gap in the market for coffee. Took a leap and put beer and coffee together. Coffee culture wasn't yet properly developed here. "Disneyfied coffee culture" that had been placed in South Africa. They decided to focus purely on espresso. Started Vida e Caffé and a community started to erupt around it. It was described as a "slice of Europe on African streets". "Slowly but surely we started to win the right people over and they brought their friends. I think a pivotal moment was when we stepped aside and our staff took over."
* Sold Vida in 2006. They'd done their job to create a culture and push it on its way, so no regrets.
* They noticed that beer was "such an integral part of various cultures in Europe". South Africa was missing the proper beer culture that Europe has. So why not do something with beer?
* In Belgium specifically they noticed the refinements - how beer was paired with food.
* In 2006 SAB had 97% of the local market - 2.6 billion litres of beer. A container ship every two days.
* In the premium sector - the packaging was all the same, they were shouting out the same message, they all tasted the same.
* They saw an opportunity for small batch-brewed beer that could also be paired with food.
* We're being shown the range that the developed.
* "We talked to wine drinkers about flavour and aroma. We talked to women about refinement of the product and the balance and the taste."
* They "had a little bit of fun" with strong ales.
* They had a hard time communicating what they were trying to do. Restaurants and consumers didn't understand.
* Out of frustration they thought "what if we built a 'shrine' to our beer?" - a place where they could have direct contact with customers and each people about the beer.
* Decided to call the shrine and the range Brewers & Union. Housed in a 200-year old church in Cape Town. The church didn't like the "brewers" bit and they had no budget so they just tossed the "brewers" from the name.
* Their heritage range started outselling their luxury range. They didn't know why - they just knew that something was happening. They started adding more products to their heritage range.
* We're seeing examples of the heritage range.
* Last year they joined with other small brewers and had the first beer festival in Cape Town, which was a huge success.
* Video clip: encapsulates what the beer movement is about and "who our customer is".
* There will be another festival on 20 March.
* Question: "bagels, then coffee, then beer, then...?" "Gin." [joke]
* A couple of other questions.
* End of talk.

Design Indaba Profile: Jen Bilik (USA): Graphic Design/Publishing/Business
* "To an extent all the people here are business people but it's a client-services business model." Knock Knock has a very different business model.
* Before: she was "much more of a word person and a writer". She moved to New York and her first job was in book publishing at a company that does coffee-table books, in the mid 90s when desktop publishing was just coming in. She ended up having a bunch of "deskside internships" with some of the best designers in the country as they would come in to work on their books and she'd ask questions.
* She's very entertaining.
* The first thing that she created that she had printed was an offset printed holiday card. The humorous card is for sending out in January for people such as herself that miss the holiday and don't get around to posting in time. She got a lot of "you should sell that".
* "I created a business plan without a single number not knowing that most business plans have numbers. In retrospect I realise that it was really more of a manifesto. I [realised] there were enough people out there to buy smart products from a smart company that don't have a singular, homogenous voice."
* Since she had publishing experience she decided to focus on stationery.
* Listing influences: "I know she's evil but I really admire what she's done [pause - audience begins to laugh]. I won't even say the name."
* Took a small space near her house in Venice California. Team of about four.
* Sold about 70 000 of Personal Library Kit to date - best seller.
* Three second rule: the customer needs to be able to get what the product is in three seconds.
* "Creating a product was one thing but fulfilling an order is another."
* She really learnt everything about running a business but trial and error - she and her staff had no experience. It's very encouraging, even hearing the mistakes and lessons learnt.
* Pro Con Pad: sold about 84 000 of these. Very successful.
* Increasingly they had to outsource tasks such as fulfillment, and again, trial and error working with third-party companies.
* We're seeing examples of some of the products. Fantastic stuff.
* "Our motto is 'We put the fun in functional'... I like to add 'not to mention dysfunctional'."
* They do a lot of customised products for wholesalers and retailers. Only 6% of their sales are to customers via the web site.
* There are now about 22 staff members now. "Digital's really big right now - have you heard?"
* Question: Do you have any regrets?: "Um, well, yeah, actually, My 30s."
* "I started the business when I was 32, I'm now 41. I don't have a business partner, I did it all myself. I forgot to have children. Dating went out the window, as did my figure. I put business over pleasure... but I've got a lot of really nice paper goods."
* End of talk.

Design Indaba Profile: Daddy's World (South Africa): Business/Design Thinking
* We're hearing the quick history of how they started working together. They're both chartered accountants.
* Investments that lost them a lot of money.
* Started about 10 years ago in property investment and development. Built Newspace Theatre. Old Biscuit Mill. Invested in properties in Long Street. (All Cape Town.)
* Their business is two areas: commercial property portfolio and "Daddy" brand.
* Everything you learn in life can be used in business.
* There's an intrinsic value in buildings, in the history and architecture, to which people have an emotional connection.
* Why Upper Long Street? Historical facades; buildings that are long and thin, not tall, eliminating elevator costs; they were in their 20s and liked the idea of owning properties that housed clubs and bars.
* The Old Biscuit Mill has become one of the top-10 things to do in Cape Town according to Lonely Planet. FIFA used upper Long Street for the World Cup draws.
* The steady and predictable income of the properties they rent out allows them now to move into more creative projects. Annuity income.
* The creative and hospitality side of the business: properties such as Daddy Long Legs. They're now going through some of the room designs.
* The Grand Daddy and airstream park. "Finding these caravans was an absolute nightmare." They're from the 50s and 60s and rare. They are classified as motor vehicles here and you can't import a used vehicle. 17 applications rejected till they eventually got permission. They don't fit in a shipping container - needed a special ship. Had to convince the City Of Cape Town that they wanted to build a caravan park on the roof. Used a crane to lift them up at about 4:30 on a Sunday morning as their plans weren't "technically approved yet". The Pink Flamingo open-air cinema on the roof. Had Jeremy Taylor sing "Ag Please Daddy" at the opening.
* Old Mac Daddy. Similar concept with the caravans, out in Elgin.
* "Cape Town, South Africa, is very creative. There are many creatives here. We've just given them a blank canvas."
* Philosophy: "We've always tried to do the right thing." Fair trade. Eco friendly. Got to have fun. Very hands on.
* Business advice for the future: If you're very passionate for an idea or concept you really need to believe in it and do not give up no matter how many times you are told it's no good. Watch your cash. Look at your bank balance every single day. Set up a rainy day account. "Sometimes it rains in business unfortunately." Don't take anything personally in business. Don't be greedy. Let someone else also make a profit. Surround yourself with people who are uplifting, positive, and work at their best at what they do. If you owe someone money pay them. It shows that you respect and value the work that they do. Don't mess with the cash in your business - people will see what you're doing. We have the talent in SA, we just have to get a bit more international with our mindsets.
* End of talk.

Bibliothèque (Tim Beard, Mason Wells and Jon Jeffrey) (UK): Branding/Graphic Design/Exhibition Design

Design Indaba Profile: Bibliothèque
* The name: they're collectors - books, magazines, posters, design ephemera, furniture, and other objects, which really summarises what they are about.
* "We've always loved the emotive feel of a book."
* Calling the company "Library" didn't have the same kind of ring to it so they switched the name to French "for a little je ne sais quoi".
* Photos of them setting up the space that they bought, including building the project tables. Very raw studio.
* Creative Review interviewed them and unexpectedly featured their studio on the cover. [There was an explanation of how the photos came to be.]
* Catriona Mackechnie campaign explanation. English country garden inspired stationery and corporate ID (including logo), bags. Store design.
* More examples of logo designs.
* They like to make objects to make graphics. We're seeing project examples.
* Process of reduction: "When we work through ideas in the studio very often there's a process of reduction."
* London Sinfonietta campaign. Bulletins with bespoke photography. Small budget. Flyers. We're seeing samples of the work.
* For the 2009 edition of the London Sinfonietta bulletin they proposed using a test shoot that they'd used to establish the lighting conditions for shooting the musicians, which solved the problem of which musician to feature on the cover (a minefield).
* Project: Designing the space and the printed materials and the exhibition layout for the Design Museum exhibition Super Contemporary in 2009.
* Project: Marketing assets (film, printed, signage) and designing the space for the D&AD Awards Ceremony And Dinner 2010.
* Project: dynamic content - RR (Rumpus Room) logo redesigned as a graphic window. Used in stationery and live motion for video graphics.
* Project: Dieter Rams "Less Is More" exhibition at the Design Museum. They had to do the exhibition space and design the whole exhibition, which was an honour because he is one of their heroes.
* We're being shown some of the project considerations and decision making.
* Inspiration: Bibliothèque went on a design pilgrimage to Germany. We're seeing some of the holiday snaps as inspiration for "going out there".
* Now some Cape Town snaps.
* Do it yourself: they wanted to get in on the Olympic bid so they designed what they saw as the best identity and set up an exhibition. It resulted in a Nike Heritage project. A Nike employee saw the posters on their site, bought a set liked their work, and so forth.
* Be proactive. Get your hands dirty.
* End of session.

[break (about 20 minutes) - if you're finding the live blog useful please retweet the link: ]

* We're back - and we're running almost an hour behind in the schedule.

(Unexpected) Tribute To Massimo Vignelli
* We're listening to a tribute to Massimo Vignelli.
* "If you do good work you'll get more good work to do. If you do bad work you'll just get more bad work to do."
* They serve as design consultants to Woolworths. The introduction happened at a Design Indaba.
* He's 80 this year and they're applauding him in the main conference room with a standing ovation so I imagine he might be there.
* Yes, he is. He's now being serenaded by the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda.

* And now we're running over an hour behind the schedule.

PechaKuchaexplanation ]
If you are unfamiliar with the format, read the explanation at the link above. Due to the speed at which the presentations take place I may not be able to cover this session accurately (if at all).

Design Indaba Profile: Lindsay Kinkade (USA): Graphic Design
* Topic: How 16 art and design students transformed themselves into visual policy wonks in six weeks (+ two snow days).

Design Indaba Profile: Camille Blin (Switzerland): Furniture Design
* Showcase of some of his works (furniture and product design), as well as projects that inspired him while in school. He graduated in 2009.
* Accidental F-Secure anti-virus "your trial has expired" popup on screen, which got a laugh.

Design Indaba Profile: Christine Goudie (Canada): Industrial Design
Web: n/a
* Topic: Wheelchair seating - medical product design.
* Realised that many products on the market were failing to address the users' needs on a daily basis.
* The idea of co-design: it's important to involve the end user in the early stages of the design. You don't focus on yourself but the target demographic.
* Prototype development - different designs.
* She had a working prototype developed.
* The cushion has interchangeable layers, waterproof and sustainable layers.
* The cushion project took on a life of its own and garnered media coverage and then an award for industrial design.
* Saw this as a thesis topic to develop and wants to transform this into her career.
* She's looking at people in developing countries, mainly South America and a few areas in South Africa.
* The research can be difficult as it's a sensitive topic area.
* "I like how designers are addressing basic needs that are really not being met."

Design Indaba Profile: Laduma Ngxokolo (South Africa): Textile Design
Web: n/a
* Topic: Interpreting Xhosa beadwork into knitwear Amakrwala [Xhosa initiates] - basically, introducing Xhosa influences into high quality men's knitwear for Amakrwala to wear.
* The Eastern Cape has high-quality natural fibres such as wool and mohair but it's not converted into end products because there's no textile industry. Most [resources] is exported.
* He drew motifs from the beadwork inspiration, then chose a limited colour palette but with light, medium, and dark options. He chose colours that are recognisably Xhosa, then converted them using Pantone references.
* The designs were divided into a platinum collection and a premium collection.
* We're seeing examples of the range showing the inspiration [example: "samp and beans"], the Xhosa design iconography, and the knitwear result.
* He won a design competition in London for the project and one of his designs is in the running for this years DI "The Most Beautiful Object" competition.
* He sees his designs as a way to preserve his culture for future generations.

Design Indaba Profile: Joseph Saavedra (USA): Technology/Interaction Design
* Project: Citizen Sensor: "A DIY, wearable, reconfigurable sensor pack and data contextualisation system that allows users to collect, share, and understand data using sensors recording environmental conditions such as carbon monoxide, light, noise pollution, and methane gas exposure among others. Users choose what to sense, and then connect with others around the world to share knowledge and experience." * We're seeing embedded-computing projects that were his inspiration.
* He's going through what it does, the process of how it was developed, and prototypes.

Design Indaba Profile: Dirk Van Der Kooij (The Netherlands): Product Design
* Graduation project: recycling old fridges. Using the materials to make other products. {I think}
* {This is really hard to explain but it's quite fascinating.}
* The final product of the process is a remarkable collections of chairs.
* The project is called "Endless" - "one endless, long plastic string made of old refrigerators, crafted by a robot into a chair. -- see the web site for details.

Design Indaba Profile: Nelly Ben Hayoun (UK): Interaction Design
* "I design experiences."
* "I often work with scientists. They make the work I do tangible." {Photo of her at the Large Hadron Collider - I am jealous.}
* "I think that design must be engaged."
* {Her work is very clever and funny but I can't explain it.}
* Project: Super K Sonic Booooum. We're watching a video about it.
* Best way I can describe what she does is that she incorporates science into experiential design. Very smart, very interesting. She gets to a project by initially asking very bizarre, impossible questions.
* Example: "How can you lift off from your living room?" - result: The Soyuz Chair, which enables you to experience a Soyuz liftoff from a chair in your living room.

* End of session.

Kiran Bir Sethi (India): Design Thinking/Design Education
Kiran Bir Sethi Design Indaba Profile: Kiran Bir Sethu
* Developing design thinking in children from an early age.
* We're seeing a video presentation with commentary of projects that groups of kids from around the world worked on. -- Design For Change School Contest 2010.
* It started with her son, who went to school thinking "I can" and returned home one day thinking "I can't".
* India is producing a staggering number of graduates with no job prospects (much like South Africa but on a much larger scale). Her intention is to change thinking from "Can I?" to "I can".
* Key focus of her school: learning embedded in real world, adult learning, parent partnership.
* The grade 7 kids organised and hosted a conference.
* Ethos of the school: replace the word "or" with the word "and".
* Basically the kids are made more aware of the world and their surroundings and are empowered to come up with plans and projects that focus on development, sustainability, rethinking, problem-solving (example: working on a centre for differently-abled kids), and so forth. They may need to host a conference or raise money at an auction or give a presentation that helps them achieve the project's larger goals.
* Doing good = doing well. The result is that their maths, science, and English scores are improved (understatement).
* Project: imagine a child-friendly city. Result: aProCh - a protagonist in very child.
* "What started with my son has been able to infect 250 000 children with the "I can" bug.
* "I think every child has a right to believe that they can make the world a better place and it is the responsibility of every adult to ensure [that they continue to believe this]."
* End of session.

[break (30 minutes) - if you're finding the live blog useful please retweet the link: ]

Cross-Pollination Workshop Intro In The Simulcast Room (During Lunch Break)
{I can't summarise this intro to the workshop because it's all in meaningless adjectival jargon and I don't know what they are trying to say.}
* Summary from the screen: transforming society through design processes inspired by nature.
* It's a course that you can sign up for. One in May and one in July, and will be run from Haldane Martin's studio in Woodstock, with field trips.
* We're now seeing an intro reel to Haldane Martin and his product design work.
* End of intro.

Spoek Mathambo's New Video
* We just got to see it.

Renny Ramakers (The Netherlands): New York
Design Indaba Profile: Renny Ramakers
* Showcase of a few products from when they started in 1993. Tulip packaging made from cow dung (for export); a curtain with a pattern so when you're fed up with your curtain you can make a jacket out of it. Plus two others - a result was that they were labelled as "eco designers", which is not the reason why they made the products.
* "We love to show imperfection in an almost perfect world.".
* Story about a rundown hotel that they took over in Milan to showcase interesting but simple artpiece-type products. People were lined around the block to see the demonstration. Some of some products are now for sale at the web site.
* As a design company they just wanted to have a normal interior but also not quite normal. Much of the furniture was bought secondhand.
* Project: Serious eco design in Milan 2008. A heating chair. Creatures by Tobias Rockenfeld.
* They look at how you can make an environmental conscious design in all respects but not forget the emotional {and aesthetic?} component.
* They bought a number of goods from business liquidation sales {I think it was designed goods that weren't selling} and reworked the goods to make new products. "You do not design from scratch - you take from what is already there." [Saves time and energy] For example - utensils. They are already designed.
* We're seeing a showcase of some of the products that designers created.
* new manifesto: They want to redefine the lifecycle, create ongoing value, redesign until they find an owner, among other things.
* It was an interesting experiment. Some products were really liked, others weren't at all. Many things could only be produced in small quantities due to the lack of the materials they'd sourced.
* They now want companies to present their dead stock and designers can redesign the products. Some companies are reluctant as they don't want their logos (etc) being noticed - implication that their (original) products didn't sell; damage to reputation.
* Project: The Droog Lab. Eight projects in four years. First in Dubai. Team of designers. "Go to Dubai and look at it in a positive way. Don't complain that this is plastic and this is bling-bling. [...] Come back and be inspired. Talk with normal people. [...] Use this energy for the next generation for design."
* They were impressed that this city was set up in the desert. Wanted to collaborate with local designer. No economic problems, no social problems, just a parallel world. They came up with avatars so all participants were equal. A book will be published detailing the project. It's been zipped through here.
* Canada: Biggest inspiration - a whole community can eat the meat from one whale for a year. There's an ideal of sharing food. You don't go to the supermarket. [photo of giant rabbit that I think was raised there] The idea came to build a community around this food production.
* New York: has a lot of professions that "we don't have", such as dog walker. "It's a surface economy. Let's look at very boring suburbs and how can we revive them?" Designers are now reacting new plans for houses based on surfaces in private houses. The people in the suburbs were asked to work on surface projects that related to their interests.
* Moscow: They don't trust anyone. Not the government, banks, institutions. They live in their own fantasy worlds. Project: fantastical investments. The designers are creating things that you can use in your own life and they have this element of fantasy in it, such as a tyre with diamonds in it.
* Mumbai: next project will be here and based on the energy of improvisation and the formal economy.
* 2009 Pioneers of change (festival) in New York: collaborated with NY institutions and designers, as well as interacted with the public. {I'll have to skip a bit here - it's going too fast.}
* -- Asked 2012Archtecture to make a harvest map of all the waste that you can find in New York and what you can do with it.
-- Repair manifesto: repairing is better than recycling, so there was a repairing workshop.
* More zipping through projects. Urban Play 2008 - moving forest, boom bench, 300 000 cents (that one has a sad ending).
* New project: MakeMe (download, design, make, share). High-quality platform to create a network of producers (craftsmenship) all over the world.
* Droog wall of owners - on the web site. Owners are invited to participate to share their products (photos) and give comments.
* Tomorrow you can be photographed with a doorstopper product at Design Indaba (if you buy it) and it will be incorporated in the wall of owners web site.
* End of talk.

David Butler (USA): Branding
Design Indaba Profile: David Butler
Web: n/a
* He's the vice president of design for Coca-Cola, the world's most recognised brand.
* Theme: designing to win (shorthand for using design to dominate in their business).
* We're getting some stats about the company and its products.
* Local in 206 companies. 1000 plants around the world. 500 brands. 3000 products. 700 000 employees. 20 million outlets. 1.7 billion servings a day - roughly a quarter of the world's population every day.
* They are in a growing industry. Due to macroeconomic forces they expect to double in a few years.
* "The biggest winners will be companies that can combine the advantages of scale with the agility to respond to fast-changing market conditions." -- quote from The Economist
* They're always designing sustainability for the future. Create value all across the value chain.
* That's the opportunity for design.
* "Our job is to help our company think big about design."
* Everything they design is based on modular adaptable components (think LEGO).
* We're seeing package shots of how they used a modular approach on Minute Maid so the packaging works in all markets (shape and typographical space, illustration of contents).
* "We didn't design a package, we designed a system."
* It's crucial to their business model to keep things cool. You sell more and can charge more. Retailers need to have these resources. (Think spaza shops, not supermarkets.)
* They designed a modular cooler system that can be customised for any market. It can be updated easily too. The interior system is the same, it's just the outside panels that can be updated.
* Coca-Cola Design Machine - open-source web-based platform. -- They didn't design a web site, they designed a system.
* Once a drink is consumed the bottle immediately becomes waste. What do you do with that? They are looking at ways to repurpose the plastic. Example is the Coca-Cola Emeco chair. McDonalds can use it in their stores (example) -- They didn't design a chair, they designed a system.
* End of session.

[break (20 minutes) - - if you're finding the live blog useful please retweet the link: ]

* Michelle Constant just gave the guys in the main room a lecture (referencing "especially the South Africans") but the sound was off for most of it so I don't know what it was about.

Alberto Alessi (Italy): Product Design
Design Indaba Profile: Alberto Alessi
* Topic: Alessi (1921-2010) and the phenomenon of the Italian Design Factories.
* We're hearing part one "and the second may be at the next Design Indaba, maybe next year" because the talk is too long for his 35-minute slot.
* We're getting a photographic intro to the conservative valley in Italy where all of this originates. It's the world's biggest producer of wooden Pinocchios, "in spite of China". [applause]
* Historic info of family and the beginnings of the company.
* 1930s: Carlo Alessi brings industrial design to the company.
* 1950s: Carlo abandoned design and got outside architects and designers to collaborate with Alessi. This is where the phenomenon of Italian Design Factories started.
* 1970s: It became clear that Alberto would run the company. As a design manager his first operation was to try to use the company's machines to produce true art objects rather than the previous cocktail shakers and so forth, to be presented to the market at a reasonable price.
* "Customers showed no interest in my poor art multiples." Initiative was a flop.
* Alberto learnt the importance of hooks from Salvador Dali and he bought 50 000 of them, where they now sit in a warehouse - another flop idea. No use for the hooks.
* 1970s: collaboration with Italian design maestros: Richard Sapper (actually German but living in Milan and is considered part of Italian design history) - Alessi Kettle; Alessi is demoing the kettle's whistle like a harmonica. It became one of their best sellers in the 1980s and is still in production today. It has a few flaws, though. If the water quality is bad it can cause the metal of the whistle to oxidise (though the kettle still works). Therefore two spares are included in the box.
* Another collaboration with chef Gualtiero Marchesi, also Achille Castiglioni and Alessandro Mendini (the Alessaphone (Alessophone?), a handmade saxophone, only a few produced).
* 1980s: "Every decade I meet and work with about a hundred new designers. [...] But every decade has been marked by only a few of them."
* Architect Aldo Rossi (shown a showcase of his Alessi work), American Michael Graves (ditto), Frenchman Philippe Starck (ditto).
* "We can be seen today as a kind of research laboratory in design, [whose] role, [whose purpose], [whose] function is to be a mediator: [...] the best possible expressions of creativity [versus the market].
* Very fast showcase of a number of designers and their work.
* Design is a new form of poetry and art.
* Showcase of work coming out of other Italian Design Factories.
* A company like Alessi has a strange destiny to work very closely to a borderline between possible and not possible. Possible = new products that customers will understand. Not possible = new products that people will not understand. This borderline exists but it is extremely difficult to find it. You cannot understand with marketing research. You can only feel with some qualities that exist in human spaces but are more and more logical - making use of intuition and sensibilities and talking about more risk. Mass-production industry tries to work as far as possible from the border line.
* End of talk.

Maarten Baas (The Netherlands): Product Design/Furniture Design
Design Indaba Profile: Maarten Baas
* Yesterday evening he mixed up his presentation because he was too comfortable with it and a designer should never be comfortable "so we'll see what happens".
* "In the Western world the brains are sort of taking over the common sense."
* {He's very scattered, which is completely suitable for the presentation and his point, but it's hard to summarise.}
* "Like anyone, I am inspired by nature. [..] But everyone sees something different. I see the irregularity in nature. [...] We call it a perfect system [in its irregularity] yet [we design aesthetically perfect objects that are very far from the borderline]."
* In nature everything changes. It's very natural to change and grow. Everything is always in transition to a next stage. Yet in design we keep things in one stage and it's finished and doesn't evolve. * There's also the issue of one side thinking something is better than another {makes me think of iPhone versus Android, Mac versus PC, etc}, yet in nature there's an acceptance of all seasons being great for different reasons.
* Smoke: a chair that was his graduation project in 2002. Description of how this led to him using the technique on other chair designs. It's been called "imperfect" but he doesn't see the world as "perfect" and "imperfect" - they're all a necessary part of each other and all have a right to exist.
* He wanted to impress everyone with a new product that was conceptually or technically smart but then realised he didn't want to do be doing that. He wanted to have the same naivety as when he was a child.
* He went to Milan using all his money and showcased his work - furniture that was "clumsy" and not technical. He was very nervous to show the work but it was more successful than the Smoke chair.
* He doesn't work with computers because no matter what you do something "Superman" [perfect, pristine] comes out of it. "Somehow computers can't make things that I like."
* The Chankley Bore.
* Real Time: a 12-hour movie of a clock - top down image of people sweeping; image of live person "in" the clock.
* Digital clock where it seems as if a little person is inside changing the digits. (Very clever stuff). In the end it became an iPhone app because it was too difficult to produce and he has a problem in that all his stuff is made by hand and is therefore very expensive and not accessible to most consumers.[ app link here ]
* We're now zipping through a selection of miscellaneous projects.
* Self-made FAQ: Do you consider yourself a designer or an artist? He's not really sure. His projects become torn between the two. Real Time is especially seen as art. To him it's not relevant. "I think I hurt a few of my collectors who thought they bought art and now it's an iPhone app."
* Wouldn't you make more mass-produced pieces?: You start somewhere and you have to make concessions. I only want to make a mass-produced product if it makes sense for the product.
* What's your opinion of "green design"?: He just slammed Droog in his answer [taking crap and making more crap]. Simulcast audience not amused.
* What's your next project?: He doesn't know. Normally he only works when there is an "inner urgency" to make a project.
* Final personal request: Today is his mother's birthday and he couldn't be there because he wanted to be with us so he's brought his camera and wants to film the main room audience saying happy birthday to his mother. [Which he did then do.]
* End of session.

*17:19: That's it for today. Day two is finished. We'll be back tomorrow for the final day of the conference. Thanks for reading.

Mandy J Watson is a media guest of the Design Indaba 2011 Young Designers Simulcast.

On The Internet
Design Indaba: Official Site | Twitter

You Might Also Like Comments Speak Your Mind

Shop | ZA

Zoo City
by Lauren Beukes
click for price

Shop | ZA

Shop | ZA

Shop | Amazon US

Shop | Amazon UK

Shop | iTunes US iTunes US

Moxyland: The Soundtrack

Ads | Atom Entertainment

Ads | Google