The Design Indaba is one of the biggest design conferences in the world. This year was the first time that a simulcast was available in Durban, and our Design Ninja Fathima was lucky enough to attend. These are her thoughts on some of the presenters:

There were so many speakers from all areas of design and all parts of the world, each of them truly interesting and inspiring. The great thing about the speaker selection is that it’s very varied, including architects, chefs, graphic designers, illustrators, interactive and installation designers, authors, innovators and more.

“Make the ideas that give you a weird feeling in your tummy, keep evolving, draw!“

Porky Hefer of Animal Farm is a South African product designer. You’ll know him for the Coca Cola crate man in Cape Town and the recent Mavericks debacle. Apart from being a dynamic and somewhat controversial speaker, he also had a lot of inspiring insights, a great outlook and some really rad products. Check out his blog.

Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk are digital and interaction designers famous for their work with Arcade Fire for The Wilderness Downtown interactive music video and The Johnny Cash Project. It’s incredible how they take user-generated data and bring it all together to create a fascinating whole. Two of their music video collaborations have been Grammy nominated.

One of the more eccentric speakers was Sputniko!, a student artist and designer from Tokyo, who spoke in the Pecha Kucha segment. She creates machines, films and music based on pop culture and the relation between science and humans, the future and technology. Some of her interesting inventions include a device that lets you speak to crows and a menstruation machine.

Massoud Hassani is a product designer, originally born in Afghanistan and living in Holland. He created an incredible mine decommissioning device called Mine Sweeper based on a childhood toy.

“There’s nothing more powerful than just doing what you do.”

Hellicar and Lewis are the creative partnership of Pete Hellicar and Joel Gethin Lewis, from London. Their work focuses on art in technology and interaction, and creating experiences. One of the projects they’ve worked on is creating interactive environments and games that have been used as part of therapy for Autistic children. I really liked their philosophy of creating things that are true instead of gimmicky nonsense.

“Food is the shit… eventually.”

Rene Redzepi is a food designer from Copenhagen who is one of the most influential and most quoted people in the world of gastronomy because of his approach to food. His entertaining presentation involved him bringing a dead duck onto stage.

“Design is being comfortable with the idea that you have no idea where (a project) is going”

Paul Sahre is a graphic designer, illustrator, lecturer and author from New York. He had lots of cool insights from a graphic design perspective in terms of the way he thinks about design, especially with regard to layout design, which he does a lot of.

The thing that stood out most was how much of a difference design can make to our world in a serious way, which most people don’t see. It can uplift the poor, provide alternate therapy solutions, help with education levels, and generally do a whole lot more than just make things look pretty. It was a truly inspiring and enriching experience.