Cape Town is World Design Capital

May 23rd, 2014 | by admin | People in Cape Town, Proud to be South African


World Design Capital is about recognising and activating design to improve the quality of all peoples’ lives in Cape Town in 2014.

Cape Town wins awards often. That’s no secret. It’s beautiful, it loves having visitors, and it’s constantly changing. There’s something else that inspires its range of accolades, though, something sprouting beneath the skin of a city with so many stories to tell. The secret ingredient behind South Africa’s creative capital? We think it’s design. So does ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design), who named Cape Town World Design Capital 2014.

World Design Capital - Babylonstoren

Every year, ICSID awards the title ‘World Design Capital’ to a city that uses design to uplift its citizens, natural environment and built spaces through the increasing establishment of sustainable practises in housing, education, business and governance.

World Design Capital - award logo

Past title holders and have enjoyed sharing their ideas and innovations with the world. Torino, Italy ( 2008) home to the Fiat, uses active support networks to encourage the development of its creative industries. Seoul, South Korea (2010) puts its ecology and its citizens at the centre of its decisions. Helsinki, Finland (2012) maintains a competitive edge in global business by integrating innovation, research and development. Now Cape Town has humbly joined the global movement with an African angle on design that goes beyond art, fashion and entertainment. In the inclusive sense, design means a roadmap to reach a unique expectation. Or, destination, if you will. So when you’re looking at coming to Cape Town, perhaps look through World Design Capital glasses  – it’s a more accessible, more equal and ultimately more stable Mother of a design capital.

World Design Capital - Cape Town

A year of living design – some examples

Businesses big and small are playing their part in activating the city.  As Gabs Pather, principal architect, Jakupa  says  "the broad-stroke objectives are fanstastic. Turning it round and making it work using design is what is key". Our brief list below shows a little of what’s happening, independently or co-operatively, and how these projects reflect some of the themes of World Design Capital 2014.

World Design Capital - Oranjezicht City Farm

A greener city for all

Oranjezicht City Farm embodies the theme of “Sustainable solutions for people and planet”. Its organic garden in a mountain suburb above the city bowl is partly run by volunteers, open to the public for fresh veggie picking and participates in a fresh food market on Saturdays that has featured on national television.

Tours in time

District Six heritage tour routes are “Bridging The Divide”.  Ex-residents, visual artists, creative writers, performing artists, crafters, architects, academics, youth and designers together express the rich cosmopolitan, traditions of the neighbourhood’s urban fabric, telling a story of reconciliation through consideration and action.

World Design Capital - Imiso Ceramics 2

Conscious ceramics from Imiso

Imiso expresses “African ideas that speak to the world”. The distinctive clay art from a small start-up with a rural background speaks volumes about how design can contribute to the economy and the history of a city in flux.

Princess Vlei stays natural

After 15 years of negotiations, the City of Cape Town recently decided not to let developers convert natural Princess Vlei land to a mall. This recognition by the authorities of the valuable contribution that green spaces make to local communities embodies an encouraging  move towards “design [thinking] that reconnects our city and reconciles our communities,” a stated theme for 2014.

World Design Capital - Woodstock Exchange


Design is embodying and encouraging Cape Town to be all it can be for all and bringing African aesthetic and expression to life.

The website  has much more.

World Design Capital - Imiso Ceramics 1

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