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New Cape Town design festival shares design with everyone

Open Design Cape Town is a 10-day festival from 21-31 August 2013. Focusing on 'Design is for Sharing' by encouraging both the city's design community and the public to share their designs with each other openly, thereby raising awareness of and increasing appreciation for design by all.
New Cape Town design festival shares design with everyone

Platform for designers

Created through collaboration by the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), in partnership with the Cape Town Design Network (CTDN), the Western Cape Furniture Initiative (WCFI) and the City of Cape Town (CoCT), it will become an annual cross-disciplinary citywide winter festival.

It is not just another design festival, but a platform to open people's minds to the possibilities of design, not only to function as a core element within social, cultural and economic contexts, but also in the way it can engage and form part of everyday life.

"It is a grass roots movement concerned with the ways in which design can engage directly with the public," explains Y Tsai, creative director for the event and founder of Tsai Design Studio. "It is also a call to action for the design community to share its creative skills to help solve some of our most pressing social issues."

By creating an environment in which anyone can share their ideas, it is creating a multitude of channels through which to demystify design and rather celebrate our design culture through the lenses of various design academies, professional bodies, industry initiatives and individuals. Moreover, with Cape Town being World Design Capital 2014, this is the perfect city to launch the inaugural event.

Be open and share

To ensure that the events taking place echo the ethos on which the festival was founded. The theme is 'Design is for Sharing'.

"While we coined it as a theme, it encapsulates more of a design philosophy," explains Zahira Asmal, founder of DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA and programme curator for the event. "Design for us is inclusive, integrated and engaging, from a micro sense as an expression and educating technical skill to a macro sense in procurement, information sharing and designing systems for cities and nations to develop better and make good quality design more accessible. We as designers and design thinkers need to share our craft and engage others in this process."

The theme aims to create an educational, informative and inclusive festival encouraging design practitioners, managers, media, students, educators and any member of public to share their design. It is through the sharing of design that we wish to demonstrate the transformative power of design through celebrating design, talking about it, reflecting on it and engaging with it.

As Sune Stassen, City Hall and education programme manager for the event and founder of Rock City Foundation says, "To be truly open about design means to include, share, educate and empower all who want to participate. Because we are working towards building a more sustainable future, the ability to successfully collaborate and share knowledge becomes some of the key building blocks towards realising this future."

Taking part

Participation is key to the success of the event and the festival invites design practitioners, managers, media, educators, students, institutions and members of the public to tap into their creativity and find the way they know best to share their design.

"It is about taking design off the shelf, out of the lounge and into the everyday," says Christo Maritz, branding manager for the event and founder and creative director of Infestation. "By sharing design we invite the whole of Cape Town to take pride and take part in an industry that not only builds our economy but also transforms lives."

Design sharing can take a number of forms, from open studio cocktail parties, film nights and design initiative forums to free lectures at academic institutions, creative agency talks and individual designer workshops. What is most important for any event taking place, as part of the festival, is that it has something to share with those attending and they leave empowered and inspired by the session.


The historical Cape Town City Hall will become the central hub for the festival and play host to the main festival events. These include dialogues, lunch time sessions and a movie programme to the 'Design for All' exhibition, which will highlight examples of best practice that will help in demystifying design and showcase the impact of great design through projects, products, systems, environments and services that are contributing to the live transformative values of many.

"The festival will not only entertain young and old but will also educate, inspire and share the values of design when we open the city hall doors and invite people in," Stassen says. "Taking design to the people is what the festival is all about. Come play, share, collaborate, find and explore your creative power, be inspired and participate!"

The programme will be a mix of free and ticketed events, with details of each event on Follow on Twitter (@opendesignct), Facebook (opendesignct) and Instagram (opendesignct).

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