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Faces of the future

Feb 14, 2020 | Design

Design Indaba’s Emerging Creatives programme provides a valuable platform for young talent

Cover pic: Crystal Birch Pic credits: Njabulo Magubane, Kent Andreason

Design Indaba is known primarily for showcasing the wisdom and work of leaders in their fields. But its commitment to up and coming talent as well as established stars is just as crucial to the growth of the design and entrepreneurial industries in South Africa.

Since 2005, Design Indaba has partnered with the Department of Arts and Culture to give a platform to future movers and shakers across disciplines. And its impact and influence is evident in the calibre of alumni of the programme over the last decade and a half. From Thebe Magugu and Laduma Ngxokolo, to Renée Rossouw and Daniel Ting Chong, and the many others the programme has helped to propel forward – the showcase has helped to shape the careers of current groundbreakers.

Its curators are integral to the process. For 2020, they are a trifecta of talent. First up – creative force Crystal Birch whose varied skills across the spectrum uniquely equips her to mentor and guide young creatives. Known primarily for her millinery business, Birch also has extensive experience in styling, art direction and set design.

Joining Birch in the lineup is Mokoena Kobeli. The Joburg based conceptual art director, graphic designer and illustrator graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Johannesburg (FADA) and continued to study at leading international and national creative institutions from the School of Visual Arts (New York), to AAA School of Advertising and more recently, California Institute of the Arts. Currently working with various international brands, he’s involved in creative endeavours as diverse as advertising, animation, and even furniture design.

Lastly, but not least, Siyanda Mbele will round out the trio. This lecturer, furniture designer, interior designer and founder of Pinda Design is himself a Design Indaba alumnus (2013). He’s also taken part in various illustrious creative showcases such as 100% Design South Africa, Southern Guild and Clout Fired Up By Nando’s. This experience, and an understanding of what makes for a successful Design Indaba campaign, as well as his unique African-centric viewpoint, will allow him to impart insight into the curation process.

This year the candidates will be selected from around the country and number 50 – with 40 exhibiting in Cape Town and the remaining 10 to be based at the Johannesburg simulcast venue for the festival.

While the programme is primarily aimed at students (and so preference was given to applicants between the ages of 18 – 30) it also includes those who have made a major career change and have embarked on a new trajectory.


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