Our first Dezeen and MINI World Tour despatch, Ravi Naidoo takes us on a tour of his home city and explains why he founded the Design Indaba conference that is taking place in Cape Town this week.
Founded 18 years ago, Design Indaba has grown to be the world’s biggest design conference, drawing speakers from around the world and spawning an Expo showcasing South African creativity, a music festival and a film festival.
During the trip, in which we explore Table Mountain, Signal Hill and downtown Cape Town, Naidoo explains that he started Design Indaba in 1994 as an attempt to shift the economic discussion in post-Apartheid South Africa away from mining and tourism and instead promote the economic value of “ideas and intellectual capital”.
“We wanted to create a platform that would help to inspire [design in South Africa]”, he says. “This was an opportunity for us to bring the global creative community to South Africa to share their experiences.”
“Some people laughed at us at the time” he recollects. “I remember talking to a very senior politician who said: ‘our country has got vexing problems; it’s about water, it’s about housing, it’s about sanitation.’ But those are design problems.”
Buoyed by an improving economy, Naidoo believes that the design industries in Africa today are starting to flourish. “By the year 2015, of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world, seven will be African,” he says. “Of course, this has a concomitant effect on the creative industries. The story is really one of renewal, regeneration and growth. And there aren’t too many places in the world that are growing right now.”
This movie features a MINI Cooper S Countryman.
The music featured is by a young South African DJ and producer calledKimon, who performed on Thursday as part of the Design Indaba Music Circuit. You can listen to the full track on Dezeen music Project.