Cape Town is World Design Capital 2014, its programme focused on the role design can play in social transformation – picking up on the same currents of innovative design, architecture, urban projects and initiatives that uncube is reflecting in our latest issue: Construct Africa. We take a look at what’s planned.
Inaugurated by a “New Year’s Eve of Design” celebration, Cape Town is World Design Capital 2014, with the central theme of “Live Design. Transform Life”.
450 projects make up the World Design Capital programme, falling into four themes: African Innovation. Global Conversation – African ideas with currency worldwide; Bridging The Divide – design reconnecting cities and sectors, and reconciling communities; Today for Tomorrow – sustainable projects focused on human development, education, skills and entrepreneurship; Beautiful Spaces. Beautiful Things – the best in new architecture and urban design, as well as furniture, fashion, film, publishing and all areas of art and design.
Promising to be about “design in its broadest sense, and designing better cities for people”, the projects range from the upgrading of informal settlements, models of participatory design and new structures of urban food economy, to jewellery design, art and illustration, with highlights including an International Design Policy Conference and a 100% Design South Africa exhibition – all with the focus on design as a “tool for transformation”. Or as Cape Town Design CEO Alayne Reesberg has described it: “the gritty and the pretty” in design.
World Design Capital status is awarded biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) to cities dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development. Previous holders have been Turin (2008), Seoul (2010) and Helsinki (2012), and Cape Town this time around is hoping to show itself as a global innovator in socially transformative design – acknowledging the vast imbalances that exist in South African society.
So while signature events such as the New Year’s Eve of Design party will be looking to throw the international design spotlight on Cape Town, the success of the city’s stint as a World Design Capital will ultimately be judged by how it can act as a model for other cities in demonstrating that design is not just about economic added value and surface aesthetics, but also about helping to assist and embed real social benefit and change.
– Rob Wilson is an editor at uncube.