This year's edition of Design Indaba will focus on “advancing social progress through design activism”

It's Nice That will once again head to the influential creative conference in South Africa, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary.

11 February 2020

Running annually and a key calendar date for those involved in the creative industry is Design Indaba, once again returning this year with its conference in Cape Town. However 2020 marks a particular milestone for this multifaceted event of all creative disciplines, celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Since founding in 1995, the key purpose of the platform – which includes an online publication, conference, exhibitions and events highlighting both celebrated and emerging creatives – is to inspire and empower its readers and visitors, with an overall commitment to “a better world through creativity”. Over the years, this has included a wide ranging programme of events and speakers, with invitees including everyone from Thomas Heatherwick to Hannah Barry, Edel Rodriguez, Tony Brook and Tea Uglow, as well as publishing work as “a driver of change” all year around online.

To honour creatively transforming and representing the city of Cape Town for a quarter of a century, this year – like all years – features a wide ranging and eclectic event, with a focus on bringing “the creative optimism and activism people have come to expect from the flagship platform”. Taking place from 26–28 February 2020 at Artscape Theatre Centre, Design Indaba’s founder Ravi Naidoo “is as ever committed to advancing social progress through design activism” – mirrored in the conference’s speaker list.

For instance, one of the first speakers announced on its line-up is Ibrahim Mahama, “the youngest artist to exhibit in the first-ever Ghanaian pavilion at the Venice Biennale,” with his visual representations of Ghanian life, commenting on “his country’s commercial legacy, migration, globalisation, labour and value,” explains the Design Indaba team. In a totally different realm the line-up sees “Asia’s hottest architects” Neri&Hu join the line-up, a husband and wife duo with an inter-disciplinary architectural design practice which sees them not “confine themselves to a definable style, preferring to see their work as contemporary and a natural expression of who they are”.

Hopping across the digital realm, the line-up additionally features Kinya Tagawa, whose work embodies “his contention that technology needs the human touch to change society for the better,” say the conference organisers, pointing out how “his futuristic experimental design brings fresh artistry to the engineering discipline”. On the note of socially focused work, this year’s line-up also sees Led by Donkeys also featuring on the line-up. From what started “as an anonymous night-time guerrilla poster campaign by four friends,” Led By Donkeys became “the biggest entirely crowdfunded political campaign in British history”.

Across the three-day festivities the line-up of creative speakers includes previous It’s Nice That Ones to Watch Natsai Audrey Chieza, experimental and award-winning digitally focused StudioDrift and graphic design powerhouse Patrick Thomas. Beloved Italian illustrator Olimpia Zagnoli will also be taking to the stage, alongside architect and one of Time magazine’s “100 most influential people of 2019” Jeanne Gang, as well as Robert Wong, the creative director of Google Creative Labs whose award-winning work has exhibited at MoMA, and was even named one of the “50 Most Influential Designers in America” by Fast Company.

As well as daily insightful talks providing endless inspiration for visitors, the event's silver jubilee festivities will also include exhibitions, public artworks, live music and masterclasses as it switches from conference to festival as day turns to night. It’s Nice That will be joining in and reporting on all the celebratory happenings at the end of February as part of our media partnership with Design Indaba. Tickets for the festivities are available here.

GalleryDesign Indaba speakers


Patrick Thomas: Protest Stencil Toolkit


Studio Drift: Fragile Future, Coded Nature Exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, photography by Ronald Smits


Neri & Hu: Suzhou Chapel, Suzhou, China 2016, photography by Pedro Pegenaute


Natsai Audrey Chieza: Terrell Hines, St Mark Road EP, Faber Futures 2019


Olimpia Zagnoli: The New Yorker

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Design Indaba: Led by Donkeys

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