10 Days in South Africa

Design Indaba is a South African organization that inspires and empowers people to create a better future through design and creativity. Hjalti and Jan were invited after their successful real-time design adventure in Serbia to South Africa for another immersive design trip overseas. We visited three cities, four townships, went on a road trip, and tasted 11 different kinds of meat, all the while fully engrossing ourselves in the culture.

Each day was full of conversations, food, drink, Muti markets, and an early morning climb on Cape Town’s Lions’ Head. Our chock-full days and nights led to a new piece of design every day, an immediate response to that day’s experience. The pieces created ranged from the use of traditional patterns as a basis for infographics, to an amalgam of three well-known indigenous flowers into one super-mega flower. Additionally, we had the privilege of giving workshops, where the attendees were by far the most engaged and open participants that we’ve ever encountered.

Every single one of these real-time design adventure series allowed us the opportunity to leave the safety of our studio behind and embrace the unforeseeable and raw realities that designers have been educated to even out and objectify. Touching, feeling, and tasting the culture, and transforming that into an immediate visceral response is as daunting as it is exhilarating. The phrase “Designer’s eye for the local guy” was mentioned to us on this trip.

Day 1 and Day 3

Day 4 and Day 6

Day 7 and Day 8
Day 10

We didn’t make it to a safari park, so we used a little tourist stand where they Photoshop you into various wildlife scenes. This became our piece for Day 10, the last day of our tour-de-force through beautiful South Africa.

We presented our “findings” in front of a live audience of 4,000 at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town. We will never forget the reactions that filled the auditorium, sometimes with crickets, sometimes with roaring applause. After the talk, all audience members received posters. Everyone left happy that day, especially us.