Sunday, March 6, 2011

showcasing South Africas best

D E S I G N   I N D A B A   2 0 1 1

Sweltering heat. Ankle breaking heels. A vast array of designers in one room. Fashion and fashionable students around every corner. Yes, it's that time of year again. Last Friday was the CTICC's (the Cape Town Convention Centre's) Design Indaba, 2011.
For those who don't know, it's a collaboration of all the design aspects, mainly surface, film and media, interior, architecture and fashion. This Indaba is a showcase of local talent and creativity. The theme for the past few years has been to orchestrate a wave of sustainable living and change in mind set, leading towards eco friendly lifestyle. I decided to do this little event with a group of friends, making an outing of it. We arrived to a short queue, and paid our R40.00 student priced ticket, and entered.
The first thing that caught my eye was a chicken pen, hay and all, with beaded wire chickens floating around. My first thought, "How original. Well, I am in Africa." But on closer inspection, it was actually an unemployment initiative, called Streetwise Social Upliftment. The organisation works that provides a sustainable employment and trains the team in wire and bead work. They empower the people, and recommend that they teach their new found skills to others, causing a ripple effect of upliftment through townships and communities. This made me all patriotic and emotional so I decided to moved on.
The first few stalls as we walked in looked as though they were all run by the same person. Some of the names I caught were Liesel Trautman, Zizamele Cermaics and Will Martin Projects. It was all fired clay pottery, painted in glazed neutral earthy tones of blues, greys and browns. The porcelain as being used for tea cups, tea pots, necklaces, brooches and hair clips. I had never seen such a delicate material used for jewellery before. I was intrigued to know the durability of the clay, and asked the manager of stall. He said that as long as the pendant  was against the body, and didn’t swing into anything, it would hold out.
The Salon Privè was said to be this the focusing point of South African Design, the crème de le crème, if you will. Though, after all the hype made outside, I was a little disappointed. There was ...XYZ Designs, Ardmore Design, Egg Design, Haldane Matin to name a few, called me what you will, but none of which I had heard of before. At the entrance to the Salon Privè, there was a very controversial display, by Amanda Laird Cherry, of rams, dressed in layered woven clothing.  It was quite dark and mysterious. The ladies next to me viewing the display were nattering on about how disgusted they were that the Indaba let ‘such vulgar rubbish’ to be shown. I was pleased. Good on you, Amanda. Another impressive display was that of Ronèl Jordaan. She is a textile designer, based in Johannesburg, is a recognised internationally for her creative uses in woollen textiles. Jordaan was showcasing her best pieces in dyed wool, and her ‘pebble mat’. I was happily impressed.
After having walked around for half an hour or so, a thought came across me - where are all the clothes? I had not seen so much as a scrap of fabric. I asked one of the stalls, and they headed me to the far back corner where I was pleasantly surprised - a ramp runway with a fashion show David West, nogal. There were about a hundred eager eyes watching the show in the stands and a couple dozen more standing on the raised stage floor. Beautiful designs, clean cut and crisp. At the end of the brief show, we were directed to David Wests' stall to purchase the items we had seen. Being menswear, I wasn't that interested. I had bigger fish to fry.
 I found this in the form of Woolworths. Eco fashion, reduce, reuse, recycle. Always a crowd pleaser. But this year I saw something different, something completely inspirational. A glass case box, with picture hanging off strings. A profile with an ordinary person and there views on freedom fighting. Each person’s words were so full of passion and beliefs, I could help but read all of the 20 profiles. I found myself left wanting more.
I eventually found some little local designers, tucked away, behind the main event arena. Coppelia by Kirsty Bannerman and Doreen Southwood. What a lovely, fresh take on woman’s modern fashion. I had actually heard about Doreen Southwood before, and am quite a fan of her unique style. She is the owner and founder of ME ME ME in Longstreet, and this was a new branch she has ventured on. It was clear to see her aesthetic was influenced by her moods and everything that embodies feminity.
 I found the Indaba's layout a little off putting this year as the floor plan was like a maze. There seemed to be only one entrance and only one exit, and they were separated by many dividing walls. So next year, hopefully, there will be better thought before the company crams in as many stalls as possible in to the room. Another thing I was most upset about, was the amount of animal product being used, in companies, like African Gameskin – FSP Collection, such as leather, hides, furs, pelts and horn. As a creative design initiative, The Indaba itself, I felt that they should discourage the harming of animals. I think that it is very unnecessary to be using the ‘real thing’ when there are so many alternatives these days.
All in, a good exhibition was held. Beautiful talent and lovely displays. I know I will definitely be back next year.

please excuse the terrible quality of the pctures, aggh, blackberry. My camera died 2 minutes in the door.
So, what did you think of the Indaba? Been to one before?
{peace and love}

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