Modelled after London Design Week, Open Design Cape Town is an annual city-wide event, aimed at creating an educational, informative, collaborative platform across multiple disciplines.
The design stigma – that design is purely for designers – is something that those involved in Open Design intend on shattering. ‘We want to turn the month of August into a city-wide festival; a large-scale event where anyone can explore the city and enjoy the vibrant activities centred around design,’ shares Y Tsai, Open Design Creative Director. From exhibitions, to events, seminars, workshops and lunchtime talks, across various subjects, there’s certainly something for everyone.
‘Our mission as designers and as a design community is to try and demystify this idea of “design”,’ says Tsai. ‘What is design? To the typical man on the street, it’s often associated with expensive brands, cars and perfumes, but the truth is that design is a problem-solving toolkit. You don’t need to be a designer to use lateral thinking and solve a problem. We’re trying to convey to the public that design is a thinking process that everyone is privy to, including you.’
Using the Cape Town City Hall as its base, the programme encourages designers, businessmen, media, educators, students and members of the public to share design concepts with each other – and particularly with young people – to develop and inspire a future generation of designers. Unlike design showcases like Design Indaba and Decorex that highlight the final product, Open Design seeks to showcase the process – how designers come up with great designs, from problem statement to execution, and its power to make a social impact.
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A collaboration between the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) in partnership with the Cape Town Design Network (CTDN), and the City of Cape Town (CoCT), it’s an opportunity for anyone to present something that’s design-related. ‘If you think of the design landscape in Cape Town, we try to build partnerships with people who will host their own events and take advantage of the platform,’ says Christo Maritz, Head of Brand and Marketing.
Some of the projects to be expected include Open House, where architecture firms open their doors to the public to peruse the goings on in their space; The Power of Colour and Texture project, by the Cecile & Boyd Foundation; The Marlboro South Exhibition, where in 2012, 50 architecture students worked with community planners to upgrade an informal settlement in the South of Johannesburg. Tony Budden of the Hemp House will be speaking at a TALK100 Session, among numerous others. ‘The great thing about design is that it covers multiple disciplines, from interior design, graphic, architecture, fashion, and with 82 events on this year, Open Design seeks to cover and represent those different industries,’ says Christo.
With 2014 being South Africa’s 20th year of democracy, the theme is Design for Change, and because World Design Capital is a milestone, Christo and Tsai wanted to highlight these things. ‘Out of the 460 officially recognised WDC projects, we took 30 of the projects that have made a positive social impact and exhibited them,’ says Tsai.
If you find yourself with an Open Design programme and aren’t sure where to start, pick something and just go. With no boring or unvaluable project, you won’t be disappointed. ‘If people who think this is not for them come, then we’ve succeeded,’ concludes Christo. ‘It’ll alter your opinion of design; that it’s not so exclusive or ‘out there’, but holds a valuable place across multiple industries and is the glue that holds them together.’