Design Indaba News

#DesignIndaba2019: Annabelle Selldorf announced as speaker

Architect and founding principal of Selldorf Architects, Annabelle Selldorf has been announced as one of the speakers at the 2019 Design Indaba.
Architect and founding principal of Selldorf Architects, Annabelle Selldorf. © Design Indaba website.

Born and raised in Germany in the early 1960s, her work has been praised for its restrained and understated elegance. In an interview with Designboom, Selldorf said that she came from a family of designers. Her father was an architect and her mother was an interior designer.
So, in some ways, it might have been inevitable that I would become an architect as well. I did initially consider other things but quickly came to realise that architecture was a profession that would allow my creativity to work towards improving the world around me. I believe that architecture profoundly shapes our experience of the world and can contribute to making a more diverse, equitable and sustainable future.

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Selldorf received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute and a Master of Architecture degree from Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. She is a fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the board of the Architectural League of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Chinati Foundation and the Centre for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

In 2017, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, three years after receiving the organisation’s prestigious award in architecture. She is also the recipient of the 2016 Medal of Honour from the American Institute of Architecture New York Chapter.

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Deeply rooted in humanism

In an interview for Artspace, Selldorf noted she was inspired by the 'white cube' designs that proliferate in Germany's contemporary galleries. Her firm creates public and private spaces that manifest a clear and modern sensibility to enduring impact. The company’s guiding principles have been deeply rooted in humanism and designs for the individual experience. As a result, its work is brought to life and made complete by those who use it.

Being a notable architect in a field that is notorious for having very few women, Selldorf said in a Los Angeles Times article that she thinks women do make a difference in the field because they talk about things in a slightly different way.
I think that women by and large are brought up to be more collaborative. This may not sound good, but they are brought up to be more accepting of different voices and to find consensus – that does not defy leadership, and I don't think it has any effect on form-making or design. There are women who do very different things than I do, but I think there is something to the way that we talk about it that is different.
Couldn’t agree more. Catch Selldorf at the 2019 Design Indaba where she will join a stellar selection of international speakers whose compelling presentations combine career-changing insights and the most cutting-edge work on the global circuit. Follow our Design Indaba special section for updates on the 2019 Design Indaba, for which tickets are already on sale.

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About Juanita Pienaar

Juanita Pienaar is an editorial assistant for the Marketing & Media news portal at and is also a contributing writer.