29 June 2001
Johannesburg (South Africa) - A new generation of explorers is preparing to head for Africa in September to tap the source of global and African scenarios for design futures.
Johannesburg (South Africa) - A new generation of explorers is preparing to head for Africa in September, not to seek out the source of the Nile but to tap the source of global and African scenarios for design futures.  
Early clues to the primal energy and creative forces driving the African design renaissance were presented by the President of Design South Africa, Mr. Jacques Lange in a paper delivered at the National Design Week in Havana, Cuba. "But to really plug into African energy you've got to be there," says the Pretoria-based graphic designer and lecturer.  
Already hundreds of designers, academics, entrepreneurs and trend-spotters intend to do just that. They are packing their bags for perhaps the biggest convergence of the world's design community ever staged - certainly on the African continent.  
Sappi World Design Convergence 2001, sponsored by Sappi, the leading global coated and woodfree paper producer, is being staged from September 11 to September 14 in Sandton, Africa's richest square mile. It's also the favoured location of Africa's Big Business and the ad agencies that these days scoop creativity awards from Cannes to London to the One Show in New York.  
"Continental Shift" is the theme of the Icograda (International Council of Graphic Design Associations) and IFI  (International Federation of Interior Designers/Architects) congresses that fall under the umbrella of the  Sappi World Design Convergence. The event is hosted by Design South Africa, the design industry association, headed by Lange. The events will run in tandem at the Sandton Convention Centre, Africa's newest conference and exhibition venue.   
Lange points out: "It's like bringing the United Nations of World Design to Africa - and about time, too. European and American venues have monopolised these events for too long."  
The centre's exhibition halls will simultaneously be taken by the Design Africa Trade Expo, a showcase of African and international design products, services and concepts.  
Well ahead of this seminal event, word is out about the power African designers draw from Rainbow Nation diversity. Design work for Coca Cola is undertaken in South Africa, merchandising for a global brand like Dunhill draws its inspiration from South African teams, and the livery of the world's raciest cars is conceptualised under African Skies.  
The work of African designers regularly wins international awards against the best Europe, America and Austral-Asia can muster - whether it's for bulk packing for cheese or smart solutions in the digital and IT fields.  
Says Jacques Lange: "Some of the world's leading marketers and product developers are starting to dig into the treasure trove of African talent.   
"They know something special is happening in Africa. They sense that The Next Big Thing in the world of design will come out of Africa - but they've not yet come to grips with the phenomenon or the reasons for it."  
It could be the reasons go back a long way - to the dawn of human evolution perhaps. The venue is only an hour's drive from the World Heritage Site - The Cradle of Mankind. Some see the "Footsteps of Eve" in and around the Sterkfontein Caves at this site, which also happens to be one of the destinations on a programme of excursions and events linked to the congresses.  
The Cradle of Mankind also became a cross-roads and meeting ground for African peoples, European settlers and Indian communities, that can be traced back to colonial settlements, into the African veld.  
High-profile speakers, like palaeo-anthropologist Dr Lee Berger and Frene Ginwala (speaker of the South African parliament and a women's movement leader) will retrace human origins and  celebrate the full spectrum of African diversity. They will reveal some of the mysteries behind the outpouring of African creative energy that borrows from sources as dissimilar as Bushman Rock Art and the decorative themes the Zulu and Ndebele tribes.  
European designers of the Bauhaus era conjured the dictum "form follows function", but a growing number of contemporary designers have realised that this dictum does not always delight the senses. Or feed the soul. Explore African and new global perspectives at the Sappi World Design Convergence.   
Woza! Come! Engage!.   
Africa waits to welcome you!   

For further information please contact:

Thierry Van Kerm
Icograda Director

Visit the website at
Contact Details:   
Congress bookings and inquires:  
Estelle Lotter, Ripcord Promotions   
T: + 27 (0) 11 837 2460  
F: + 27 (0) 11 837 2484  
Design Africa Expo inquiries:  
Kagiso Exhibitions, Charmaine Schmahl  
T: + 27 (0) 11 670 2000  
F: + 27 (0) 11 679 1179  
Media Relations:   
Leigh Angelo at International Trade Projects;   
T: +27 11 447 6568
F: + 27 11 447 6568
Host Organisation:   
Celia Clucas - Design South Africa  
T: + 27 (0) 11 408 3410
F: + 27 (0) 11 408 3951