Design Indaba And Emerging Artists On The Scene In South AfricaPosted: March 9, 2017
My recent Design Indaba experience was a first, but I got a good enough taste of what’s going on in the local design and art space. I can’t say it was what I expected but surprisingly I went away with some fresh perspectives and a new appreciation of design but also art in general.
Early summer evenings in Cape Town tend to be sort of celestial and this one was no different. It was warm with a cool breeze and an inviting atmosphere I can only attribute to the unique landscape. I got my pass and headed straight to the exhibitions. A fashion designer acquaintance and one of the Emerging Creatives at the 2017 exhibition Tangeni Kambudu was displaying a ready to wear collection so I figured it would be good to go and show my support.
The space allocated him was a couple of floors up so naturally I started looking at some of the stands positioned on the lower levels as I made my way up. Initially nothing particularly stood out but what was apparent was the fervent enthusiasm the artists seemed to have. It was fascinating to see how engaging the young artists coming from different parts of South Africa were.
Art has always brought out the inquisitiveness out of me, so in such settings I tend to come out of my shell a little and not only observe but participate as well by asking questions. Being a strategist, I must admit it has become a habit to try and gain insider perspectives about different markets whenever the opportunity arises, and in a conversation I had with an energetic graphic designer by the name of Lungile Mbokane, I got some of the answers I was after. Listening to him passionately divulge details about the struggles and triumphs of trying to make a successful living as an artist, I couldn’t help but relate.
What was even more captivating was how after I had made a few rounds, looking at the different works, I went past Lungile’s stand again only to find out that he had almost sold out of all the prints and originals that he had on display earlier on. The smile of satisfaction he wore as he was telling me how he’d have to get up early the next morning to ensure he has ample stock for the Saturday exhibition was what any entrepreneur who has had a good day would have on their face.
I believe it is a worthwhile investment for any nation to promote its artists by providing them with a platform for expression and to let their work connect with the people.
He acknowledged it was all worth it because of the feeling he got seeing customers appreciate his work and wanting to possess it, but also in the process affording him sustenance and the means to continue creating. A sentiment I shared. To know that some festival goers were impressed enough with the works on display to spend some money and in turn support the artist was quite encouraging.
My mate, who I was meant to meet up with in the first instance finally showed up, so we decided to head over to the Nightscape event which had a musical showcase staging on the Artscape piazza. But before we took off in that direction, we came across a few more artists that are worthy of mention. What caught my attention was the work of Fatima Mohammed Bham whose retail product package designs and transparent bags were quite unique.
Other captivating works were by interior architect Carien Momsen whose alpha-BET furniture range was tasteful and Ivan Brown whose Beegin project I found intriguing especially because I’m also involved in the industrial design sector. I believe it is a worthwhile investment for any nation to promote its artists by providing them with a platform for expression and to let their work connect with the people.
We finally moved on to where the music was live and were welcomed by the upbeat sounds of The Frown – a band whose sound I can’t compare to anything I’ve ever heard before – fronted by leading lady Rakow who has quite distinct vocals. Overall, the evening went spectacular and it was a good social vibe.
It was also nice to just see a diverse crowd really enjoying and celebrating South African arts. What I took away from the whole experience is mainly that art is still mankind’s great unifying factor and that our common humanity finds its true embodiment in our artistic creations and expressions.
Originally published in The Huffington Post 9/3/17