London Design Festival 2013: Before it all Begins…

It is with great delight that I have accepted the task of writing daily for the British Council Connect/ZA blog on my trip to London for the London Design Festival and in particular the Design Connections programme. The London Design Festival is one of the most established design festivals in the world and Design Connections offers an inspiring and immersive programme and introduces the best design, designers and design organisations. It provides opportunities for networking, learning and sharing with international counterparts. I will represent our social organisation DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA within the international delegation, which will also welcome delegates from India, Russia, China, Thailand and Turkey. I will be sharing the ideas and insights we’ve gained in the coming week.

I met with Sarah Mann and Evonne Mackenzie today at the British Council HQ where I was taken through our programme commencing Sunday evening, 15 September 2013. I was invited particularly to make connections for our current Designing Democracy programme – where we are currently exploring ways in which considered design may better serve our fledgling democracy in South Africa.

With my work I have the privilege of meeting and collaborating with architects and designers that work beyond the “fancy things for fancy people” design realm and are challenging notions of identity, public space, city making, healthcare and education. While I am invited to explore the work of the designers included in the programme, I also challenged the British Council team to connect me to designers that are truly interested in serving people that live on the periphery of societies and that would benefit the most from the technical skill and insights of good design. I have also requested that they introduce me to the UK Design Council to learn more about the structures that make up this noteworthy institution as well as the programmes that they engage in. There is a lot we can learn from institutions such as these – especially considering that a governmental policy on design is practically non existent in South Africa.

We have an exciting schedule ahead – Be sure to follow us on Twitter as I will be tweeting everyday as well as sharing our journey on Facebook. Twitter hashtags include #ConnectZA and #LDF13. Make sure to also visit British Council’s Back of the Envelope.