Thursday, 4:13pm
28 June 2012

Design Indaba 6

Design Indaba 6

February 26-28, 2003, Cape Town

Indaba is a Zulu word meaning gathering. Last year’s conference showcased firebrands from the digital realm; this year’s placed its faith in celebrity appeal: Malcolm Garrett, Irma Boom, Alan Fletcher, Saville Row tailor Ozwald Boateng and Terence Conran.

Stefan Sagmeister showed us a slide of the infamous Florida ballot paper of 2001, ‘a prize example of bad design’, the ramifications of which are still being felt today. Neville Brody spoke without visuals, using his hour to expand on the query: ‘Can design feed?’ The war, still pending, weighed heavily on his thoughts.

Jonathan Barnbrook also situated his presentation within the continuum of contemporary polemic, amusing the audience with his self-deprecatory manner. After making bold statements (‘Typography, whether you like it or not, is the basis of all design.’) he would often jokingly retract them.

When I asked Conran about his thoughts on the forging of a national design identity (a popular debate in South Africa at the moment), he replied: ‘I don’t think that anybody in their right mind ever tries to be British, French, German, South African . . . Nationalism attaches itself to a product afterwards.’

Spanish cartoonist Javier Mariscal received a standing ovation for his idiosyncratic, moving elegy to colour. Mariscal provided an unexpected reminder of the beauty of simple things – colour suggested as an antidote to the darkness characterising our times.