Design Council - Design Bugs Out!

Britain's Design Council champion great ideas that make things better and ultimately improves lives. This was illustrated perfectly by David Kester in his 2011presentation at Cape Town's Design Indaba. His speech focused on a challenge that the Design Council made to Britain's top designers and manufacturers to reduce infection rates within the NHS. Companies worked in collaboration to produce innovative hospital furniture and equipment that improved usability, storage and made them easier and quicker to clean.

The Bedside Cabinet

Fewer hard-to-reach corners and surfaces make the bedside cabinet easier to clean and more accessible for patients. The problem: Existing bedside cabinets are difficult to clean. Their complex internal spaces, inaccessible surfaces, angular joints and rough, absorbent materials can harbour liquids, dirt and bacteria. The solution: A revised version of the traditional bedside cabinet made from durable, wipe-clean plastic that reduces the number of hard-to-reach corners and surfaces without cutting down patient storage space.

Commode Patient Chair

Robust, functional and easy to clean, the commode minimises the risk of infection without compromising the patient’s dignity. The problem: Existing commodes tend to be made up of multiple parts, with complex junctions between different materials. This makes them difficult and time-consuming to take apart for thorough cleaning. The solution: A simplified construction makes cleaning the commode quicker and easier, reducing the risk of HCAIs. Aesthetic and functional changes also improve patient comfort and dignity.

Please click here to read more about this incredible project and here to read about more of the amazing work that the Design Council are currently doing.


AIGA - Design For Good


As an active member of the AIGA, I fully support the organisation and their initiatives. Below I have featured an article that outlines their design for good program, which is creating projects that have a positive social impact that benefits the world, our country and our communities. Please get involved and support the fantastic work that the AIGA are doing. Read more here.


Diébédo Francis Kéré: How to build a community with your hands

In 2011 I had the great pleasure of attending a presentation by Diebedo Francis Kere at Cape Town's Design Indaba. Kere spoke with so much integrity and told a story that brought some in the auditorium to tears.

After finishing his degree in architecture at Technische Universität in Berlin he chose to return to his home town of Gando in Burkina Faso and to use his education to help re build his community. Using the limited materials that were available in Gando, Kere worked with his community to build beautiful low cost structures that worked within their natural environment.

I hope that you are as inspired as I was by this incredible mans achievements.


Photoshop Experts Open Version 1.0

Back in 1990, aged just 18, I can still clearly remember using four software packages. There was Aldus PageMaker and Freehand, an animation package called swivel and then there was Adobe Photoshop. Since then, Adobe Photoshop has been a good friend of mine. Its been with me throughout my design career. In 2013 I was interviewed for Advanced Photoshop Magazine and over the past two years (2013/14) I have been a mentor for the Icograda endorsed Adobe Design Achievement Awards. Without doubt, Photoshop and Illustrator are my two favourite software packages. They have allowed me to create almost all of my portfolio of work.

To celebrate Photoshop turning 25 years old, eight of today's experts were asked to use 1990's version 1.0. The clip below shows the hilarious results as each of the experts try to get to grips with how limited the first version is in comparison to today's Creative Cloud version. Surprisingly though, the first version of the software had levels, however there were no layers or multiple redo's.

I hope that you enjoyed the clip as much as I did. A very happy birthday Photoshop. Here’s to another 25 years my old friend!


Wine Label Design Awards

2015 saw the inaugural 'Wine Label Design Awards' in South Africa. What will continue as an annual event has been created by and sponsored by label supplier Rotolabel to help promote excellence within the field of wine label package design in South Africa. Its hoped that the awards will raise the standards of what wine producers demand and designers supply.

This years Awards consisted of three categories: 1) under R60 a bottle; 2) over R60 a bottle and 3) labels forming a series – with no price constraints. 165 bottles from 92 entrants were attracted to the event.

The esteemed judging panel featured designers Joanne Thomas, Creative Director at the Jupiter Drawing Room and Sean Harrison: principal of Whitespace design along with George Jardine, Executive Chef at Jordan Restaurant, Ivan Oertle, Wine Buyer at Woolworths SA and editor Christian Eedes. The Judging criteria consisted of originality of concept, shelf appeal, effectiveness as a piece of communication and execution of final print.

The awards ceremony was held at Beau Constance in Constantia. Below are some of the winning designs, featured at the Awards exhibition booth at this years design indaba.



3 High Profile Tech Giants Rebrand

Over the past months we have seen some very high profile brand redesigns within the tech sector, including the likes off Google, Opera and Lenovo. To this end, I thought that it would be interesting to take a brief look behind the scenes at some of the agencies, processes and rationales that have been employed within each of the three projects.


One of the most publicised re design is that of the Google logo mark, probably due to that fact that it plays such a huge part of our daily lives. Unlike the recent Facebook re design which most people didn't even realise even happened, this recent redesign of Google does seem to have formed two very distinct camps between those who love it and those who really dislike it. I just want to start by saying that I am well and truly in the LOVE IT camp! I really am a fan!

Visually, this new approach delivers on a fresh modern feel but there’s so many more reasons why this new brand mark improves the Google experience for me. The obvious advantages of changing to the new san serif face are clear when you consider how the brand is often viewed on small devices such cell phones.

Below are the four key areas that Google outlined for their redesign strategy, taken from the Google's design case study featured at Brand New:

1. A scalable mark that could convey the feeling of the full logotype in constrained spaces.

2. The incorporation of dynamic, intelligent motion that responded to users at all stages of an interaction.

3. A systematic approach to branding in our products to provide consistency in people’s daily encounters with Google.

4. A refinement of what makes us Googley, combining the best of the brand our users know and love with thoughtful consideration for how their needs are changing.

There are three distinct elements to the new Google branding. One is the new san serif Google Logotype but theres also the Google G and then four dots all employing the distinct colour palette. Below are some of Googles rational for the three elements, from the Google design case study:

Google Logotype
"The Google logo has always had a simple, friendly, and approachable style. We wanted to retain these qualities by combining the mathematical purity of geometric forms with the childlike simplicity of schoolbook letter printing. Our new logotype is set in a custom, geometric sans-serif typeface and maintains the multi-colored playfulness and rotated ‘e’ of our previous mark—a reminder that we’ll always be a bit unconventional.

Google G
The Google G is directly derived from the logotype ‘G,’ but uses increased visual weight to stand up at small sizes and contexts where it needs to share space with other elements. Designed on the same grid as our product iconography, the circular shape was optically refined to prevent a visual “overbite” at the point where the circular form meets the crossbar. The color proportions convey the full spectrum of the logotype and are sequenced to aid eye movement around the letterform.

Google Dots
The Google dots are a dynamic and perpetually moving state of the logo. They represent Google’s intelligence at work and indicate when Google is working for you. We consider these unique, magic moments. A full range of expressions were developed including listening, thinking, replying, incomprehension, and confirmation. While their movements might seem spontaneous, their motion is rooted in consistent paths and timing, with the dots moving along geometric arcs and following a standard set of snappy easing curves.


I wanted to end this round up of the Google logo with a quote from the Brand New weblog. It really illustrates why we should all feel the love for the new Google branding. "the serif Google logo we’ve gotten used to seeing since 1999 — that’s 16 years, a period in which many of us have built our professional careers and relied on Google to do so many things — is not good. Not by any standard. It’s an old-looking, disproportionate piece of typography that no designer would think of using in a logo pitch to a client. We currently think it’s good and many are mourning its demise not because it was a great piece of design like the IBM logo but because we’ve grown so accustomed to it that anything different is an assault on what we know to be dear and true on the Internet.


Opera Software ASA released version one of the Opera web browser back in 1995 in Oslo, Norway. The company now has over 350 million users worldwide on both desktop and mobile platforms. The new visual identity was the collaboration of the in-house team at Opera and design firm Anti. Global brand and creative strategy was undertaken by the London based studio DixonBaxi. I am a real fan of the brand move on. I love the identity created by the 3D elements, which balance beautifully with the simple san serif word mark, creating a wonderful modern and forward focused vision.



The Lenovo group are a serious contender in the technology marketplace. They design, manufacture and sell personal computers, tablets, smartphones and servers. The company dates back to 1984 and was originally named Legend. They have headquarters in both Beijing China and Morrisville North Carolina and 2014 were the worlds largest purveyor of personal computers with their ThinkPad flagship range of PC and laptops.

Their new logo has been designed by Saatchi & Saatchi New York and as with both Opera and Google's redesign has a clean modern feel. The word mark is now incased within a colour bar, that is meant to represent a window that can be used in a pallete of six different colours. Theres even a turn to the 'e'… now where I have seen that! Oh that was Google earlier!!!

In a Blog post from Lenovo the company describe the new look: The cornerstone of our new identity is our new logo — a mark that is made up of two key elements. First, there’s the word Lenovo, which we’ve designed in a more contemporary way, making it more readable so there are no pronunciation issues around the world. More importantly, this wordmark is housed in a containing shape, which is meant to be more than just a design element. It acts as a window into culture and the world that surrounds us, housing a range of images, colors and patterns.



The Design Masters

In another new series, I wanted to write about some of histories design icons. Everything around us has at some point been designed. The designers who produce the worlds most recognised symbols, branding and packaging, play a role in our daily lives, but the designers themselves seldom get the notoriety or the similar celebrity that is awarded to those who work in the world of music, film, sport, fashion, art or even product design (Jonathan Ive, Philippe Stark). If you were to show an image of the identity for FedEx, the V&A, ABC, AT&T or the New York Subway to a member of the general public, they would more than likely be able to identify the brands, yet if you were to ask them who created the logo's they would probably have no idea. The likes of Alan Fletcher, Micheal Wolff, Micheal Bieruit, Lindon Leader are certainly recognised figures within the world of brand design but a lot less known by the general public. For the most part, us branding and packaging designers are happy to be the figures in the background and to let our work receive the notoriety, or at most, that any recognition we do attain is only from within our industry.

For the past three years I have had the great honor to be a mentor for Icograda and the Adobe Design Achievement Awards. It's one of my absolute loves to work with incredibly talented young designers and to impart knowledge gained from two-plus decades of being a commercial designer. I am sure that many of these talented young creatives will become the industry stars of tomorrow, yet I often find myself stressing the full importance of being well read on design and to know the work of the pioneers of our industry. I am often surprised when I meet college students that are unaware of the likes of Massimo Vignelli, Soul Bass or even more contemporary designers such as Vince Frost, David Carson and Neville Brody. These designers have shaped our industry and we can only gain by standing on the shoulders of these giants.

I am hoping that this series will help to inspire and give interest to those who are unaware of the great work from designs past masters. For others that know and love the work of the greats, I hope that this series will be a nostalgic look at the men and women who have helped shape our industry and inspire us to be better designers.

In the first edition of Design Icons I am going to feature Paul Rand, who is the closest that we have to to a household name from within our industry.


William Kentridge - Refuse The Hour


A huge thanks to my company CTTC Design and Nedbank for the invitation to the premier of 'Refuse the Hour", a chamber opera (performance art) by South Africa's most internationally acclaimed artist, William Kenteridge.

The venue for the evenings performance was the Cape Town City Hall. It always feels like such an honour to be inside this important and beautiful building. The very same place that in February 11th 1990, Nelson Mandela, standing on the balcony, made his first public speech after his release from prison.

The evening began with dinner and drinks. On the table was a flipbook by Kenteridge titled 'Hurdle' to accompany the evenings performance. After dinner we entered the incredible auditorium, the amazing backdrop to the evenings show. The stage was set with mechanical structures made from bicycle wheels, drums, pipes and megaphones.

The performance begins with the story of an eight-year-old boy on the train with his father who chronicling the ancient Greek myth of Perseus. The story continues on a journey through cosmology and science, ending with a narration featuring Einstein.

The enthralling, 80 minute performance is a visual experience combining Kentridge's narrative and art works, a score by Philip Miller, video by Catherine Meyburgh and dance performed and choreographed by Dada Masilo.

Both Nedbank and Design Indaba sponsored the performance and the evening ended with many of the audience sharing conversation over a coffee. In the room I spotted a number of speakers from the weeks Design Indaba, including Dan Weiden, Stanley Hainsworth and Pepe Mirais. I also had the great honour to speak briefly with one of my design heroes Michael Beirut that I have to confess, really made my evening!


Designing Your Success


In a new series, I am going to be writing about success, specifically success within the field of design. In this first installment I want to discuss what success really means? Then over the forthcoming series we will strive to break down what it takes to achieve and maintain success.

I did an exercise a while ago to try and visualise what it takes to be a success within my chosen creative field. I thought it would be fun to feature it in the opening illustration to this post and it will be what I use as the basis to each section of this series. I broke my image down into four distinct areas. 1.Talent/Passion/love 2.Hard work 3. Experience 4. Integrity. Over the years it's changed a little but it was certainly a good place to start. I later came across a TED presentation from informational speaker, Richard St.John and his diagram for success, being the outcome of over 7 years of research and 500 face-to-face interviews. It definitely holds a lot more weight over my little sketch. You can view Richard St.John's incredible TED presentation below, where in just three minutes, he outlines his eight points to success: passion, work, focus, persist, ideas, good, push and serve. We will come back to some of these points and my little sketch throughout this series.

So what is success?
The dictionary states: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
• the attainment of popularity or profit
• a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity
• archaic the outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from Latin successus, from the verb succedere ‘come close after

In 2008, aged just 24, Mark Zuckerberg made his debut on the Forbes 400 rich list with a Net worth of $1.5 billion. Throughout the 1980's Chris Gardner was homeless and raising his young son alone. Today he's the CEO of his own stock brokerage firm, a philanthropist and a motivational speaker. His memoirs of his struggles were made into the Hollywood blockbuster 'The Pursuit of Happyness' staring actor Will Smith. Surly Both of these individuals can be deemed a success?

So what of being a success specifically within the creative industry. In George Lois fantastically frank book, 'Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent)', he outlines four distinct personality traits: 1.Very bright, Industrious (perfect) 2. Very Bright, Lazy (A Shame), 3. Stupid, Lazy (They will sit on their ass all day so their a wash) and 4. Stupid Industrious (Dangerous). He states that only characters 1 and 2 will get anything out of his book and ultimately be able to succeed within the creative industry.

In Michael Bierut's article 'How to Become Famous' from his brilliant '79 Short Essays on Design', he outline a number of ways to help become known within the design industry including: entering competitions, giving speeches and doing great work. He writes that becoming famous isn't all that difficult but also that you can only do so much with the talent you have. But is fame the same as success?

In my early diagram, I based being a success on myself becoming a creative director, running a design team and working with multinational clients. Since drawing up my diagram, I have managed to work with some of the worlds largest retailers and household name clients and I am indeed a creative director of a business (be it a small one). I have traveled and lived overseas with my career. So did I achieve the success that I had based my diagram on? Definitely not! According to Richard St.John, he believes that success is a continuous journey. He uses the rise and fall of his very own business to highlight that we fail when we stop trying. You should never deem yourself a success and stop to reflect on your achievements but instead you must continue to push. In fact I would be the last person to class myself as s success! There are so many things that I still need to achieve and I continue to live a modest lifestyle and would never class myself wealthy of money. In addition, surely the mark of success can only be handed to us by others.

But should we focus on money to be a success? The dictionary does say that success is linked to profit. Many people believe that success is a measure of your earnings. Earlier we mentioned the Forbes top 400 list that rates success on the amount of money one has. It's certainly entertaining to view the worlds wealthiest and how they have managed to attain such riches, but I don't agree that money instantly makes you a success. I’ve met many wealthy people in business, some are happy for sure, but others really aren't. Surely if your unhappy you cannot class yourself a success. I have really enjoyed pro-bono jobs, working with NGO's and mentoring students in the Adobe design achievement awards. I don't earn a thing for doing any of this but their certainly highlights that I add to my career achievements.

Does notoriety make you a success? Throughout my career, Ive managed to win a couple of design and business awards. The dictionary does mention popularity as a mark of success. Again, I don't think this alone means that you are. Ive met many of my design heroes. Their some of the worlds most celebrated designers. Most have been surprisingly down to earth, friendly, focused, inspirational and they all definitely loved what they did. I had admired them for their work and not for the amount of money they had made and they were all focused on the product and never on their notoriety.

Apple's founder Steve Jobs quest for perfection resulted in some of the world’s most innovative products. Before his death he was worth an estimated $31.6 billion, yet this same desire for perfection led younger Jobs to live in a house with no furniture. For him it was always about the product, never the money or notoriety.

Should we also take our personal achievements into account? I became a father recently, which was without a doubt the most amazing experience to ever happen to me. My baby boy and my wife definitely drive me on to not just me a better designer, but a better person! They inspire me so, so much. My wife who is the greatest support to my design life bought the coaster and the pencil featured in my opening image. I love to run and have achieved many personal goals in long distant events. My achievements in running help to keep me fit. My fitness makes me a better designer, helping with my focus and inspiration.

I recently read an article about a clinically obese man who's one goal was to walk less than one kilometer to buy himself a newspaper and his shopping. After years of battling against his illness, he walked the distance and did his shopping. An amazing personal goal but is he success? To take on board some of our earlier comments, only if he can maintain or continue to improve on his achievement. Does this therefore still apply to Bill Gates though?

In conclusion I would like to go back to a couple of comments from earlier. I strongly believe that others can only impart success on us and we must all remember that it's a continuous journey and not a destination. It's not necessarily about money or popularity. If you get up each morning loving what you do, then maybe your the success! With so many factors making up what we believe to be a success, I would really appreciate comments from my readers. In part 2 we will pick up from the first part of my sketch diagram: Talent, love, passion and hard work!


Homeless Fonts


This ground-breaking scheme is the outcome of a collaboration between the Arrels foundation and advertising agency The Cyranos Mcann, both based in Barcelona. The project combines creativity, typography and social commitment to give the homeless a voice and dignity back into their lives. All profits go towards food, shelter and social health for the people supported by the Arrels Foundation.

I was so glad to see that this fantastic initiative had gained a massive online following last year. The stunning fonts are being used by some of the world’s largest brands and are also available for you to buy at:

For more information please click here to visit the website. I have also included (above), the touching film that accompanied this super project. Please support this initiative and the amazing work that the Arrels foundations are doing.



The Origin of Branding

In today's world of business a brand is likely to be a corporation’s most valuable asset. It's the DNA of most companies and represents everything that a business or its products stand for. An example of this is Apple's minimalist branding that depicts quality and craftsmanship whilst Oxfam's visual language illustrates a non profit charity with a logo that looks like it hadn't been designed by an agency, although of course it more than lightly has been! Brands have become the fabric of our lives, we put trust in them and without knowing it they guide and aspire us.

So what is the origin of branding? Well the word itself comes from the old Norse "Brandr", meaning "to burn", however its believed that branding could possibly be traced back even further, as far as 3000BC with archaeologists finding evidence of the Babylonians using advertising to encourage buyers to purchase goods. Branding of timber and cattle using hot iron rods to burn marks that depict ownership goes back as far as 2000BC. Potters used marks on porcelain in China, India, Greece and Rome from 1300BC. In England in the 1200s, bread makers and goldsmiths were required to put marks on their products to illustrate virtue of measurement. Between 1600 and 1800, Slaves would again be burnt with brand marks as a symbol of ownership. Criminals would also be branded as a form of identification and sometimes punishment.

Incidentally, the word Maverick, which has become a term to mean independently minded, originates from 1867 and the Texas land baron Samuel Maverick and his refusal to brand his cattle. Over the years to follow, the word Maverick became a generic fraise attributed to unbranded cattle.

But the invention of the printing press by German, Johannes Gutenberg in 1448, made a significant shift in the development of branding for use of advertising and away from the negative and cruel manner to illustrate ownership and punishment. This advancement of printing became very popular in Europe and set the stage for information being distributed.

However, branding as we know it today really started to emerge in the 19th Century with the industrial revolution and the rise of goods being packaged. Many producers of household goods wanting to sell their products to a wider market moved away from local communities to central factories.

Due to the familiarity of the locally produced products the large central factories struggled to find a way to generate trust in their products, but soon realised that shipping their merchandise with insignias, symbols and logo’s created a familiarity and gave a sense of endorsement and a seal of approval. In addition, unique names and colourful packaging added personality, differentiating the product to others in the same category. Information could also be added to a package to increase its usefulness.

Throughout this series we will bring the story of branding and packaging up to the present day, looking at current brands in the digital age, but for now this brings us nicely to part 2 of the series where we will take a look at the world’s first trademarked brand. Coming soon to the Design Life.

I am very keen that my blog supports local, up and coming talent. The incredible paintings of well known brands that I have featured in the opening image to this article are the work of Durban artist Morgan Rieket. I was absolutely blown away when I saw a selection of his work in the offices of a printers I use in KwaZulu-Natal. To see more of Morgans work please click here.


My Interest In Vintage Design

This is my first post featuring my deep interest for vintage branding and packaging design. My fascination began whilst a student where we would often visit the Robert Opie museum of vintage packaging at the Gloucester Docks in England. From that point on I was hooked and it's since grown into a leisure pursuit (some might say obsession) of mine, with my poor wife and son often having our trips away interrupted with me snapping away at old boxes and signs. The invention of the cell phone camera has probably saved our house from a man cave filled with the stuff.

To this end, I look forward to sharing my interest on the evolution of some of our most well known brands and packaging designs. Some have changed subtlety, yet others have had a complete face lift throughout their life span. We often take them for granted, but we live with these items and symbols every single day. They communicate, guide us and often without us even being aware of it, have a deep attachment to them, like an old friend or family member they instil trust in us.


Design Educators Seminar - 3 Years later

In 2013 I attended the Design Educators Indaba, which endeavoured to create a forum for educators within design to engage with each other and to increase their knowledge of creative education. The event followed the three-day Design Indaba conference in Cape Town. The seminar was hosted by Neville Brody - world-renowned designer, professor and Dean of the School of Communication at the Royal College of Art in London along with Lawrence Zeegen, (Dean of Design at London College of Communication, University of the Arts in London). The event focused on presentations and a round the table discussion which resulted in a strategy for 'Creative Education in Developing Communities'.

Back in 2013 I was working as a commercial designer for a studio in Cape Town but was also involved with a South African NGO who was helping young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain education, training and the skills required to find employment. The event was a great opportunity to gain a valuable insight and to meet others doing great work within design education.

There were many fantastic points and observations raised during this inspiring event which ended up running way over its two and half hour time slot. During the close of the seminar we identified six key areas of focus.

1. Recreate the village

2. Learner-focused

3. Communicate - inspire educate

4. Open / holistic learning

5. Redesign education

6. Embrace change

After the event, many of us exchanged contact details and over the two years to follow have kept in touch, continuing the discussion on improving Creative Education in Developing Communities. A huge thank you to Neville Brody, Lawrence Zeegan and of course Design Indaba for organising this very worthwhile event for which has created a valuable legacy.

Last year I was unable to attend the event, as I had just become a father. The 2015 Design Educators Indaba will feature a line up of top Dutch design-thinkers who have worked in areas ranging from water management to health and agriculture. I would really like to hear from any attendees of either the 2014 or 2015 event and weather the event was as rewarding as the original seminar.


The Art of the Brick - Nathan Sawaya

My family and I recently visited 'The Art of the Brick' exhibition which is currently on show in Cape Town. The exhibition by artist Nathan Sawaya is unique in that it's constructed completely from Lego blocks!

There's a short film as you enter the exhibition, where Sawaya tells the compelling story of his journey from an unhappy lawyer to an inspired and celebrated artist with his work from Lego blocks. He speaks about believing in yourself and doing the things that you love, " art is necessary."

My wife and I enjoyed the sentiment within some of the work, especial the piece 'step ladder', where a figures arms extend into a ladder that they are also climbing. The quote by Sawaya, next to the artwork reads "Sometimes when you're looking for a step up, you don't have to look any further than yourself. Were all capable of more than we think." A lot of the exhibits are supported by Sawayas inspirational words, helping give depth to the exhibition.

Then there's his reworking of some of the worlds most famous pieces of art including Gustav Klimts Kiss, Edvard Munch's The Scream, Grant Wood's American Gothic and even the Bayeux Tapestry's among many others. What makes these so interesting (apart from the fact their made completely from Lego) is that Sawaya has taken a 2D painting and made it into a 3D work of art. You can look around the side and back of many of the pieces. I also really enjoyed the life size re working of famous sculptures including the Venus de Milo. The scale of these brings a real wow factor as does the exhibitions crescendo, a very cool dinosaur made from over 80000 pieces of Lego. My one year old son's favorite!

I can highly recommend the exhibition which for us was a fantastic day out and a super way for kids to also appreciate art.



20 Years of Design Indaba

The World-renowned 'design Indaba' conference takes place each year in February at Cape Town’s CTICC conference centre. The event sits at the top of the design community’s calendar with the three-day program including presentations and insight from both the worlds most established and celebrated creative professionals along with local up and coming talent.

Renowned graphic designer Michael Bierut has helped host the conference since 2010 and will be returned this year to also present. This years (2015) distinguished speakers included co founder of the world renown advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, Dan Wieden who was the brain child of the Nike tagline "Just Do It", Stanley Hainsworth who has held senior creative positions at Lego, Starbucks and Nike and Pentagrams Emily Oberman. Managing director and founder of the Design Indaba is RavI Naidoo who was also the brainchild behind Interactive Africa, responsible for high profile projects including the “First African in Space Mission” as well as the marketing for South Africa’s bid to host the 2010 Football World Cup.

Now in it's 20th year, the conference has seen talks from many of the greatest creative minds of our time including: Massimo Vignelli, Michael Wolff, Vince Frost, David Carson, Wally Olins, Paul Sahre, David Carson, Stefan Sagmeister, Alan Fletcher, Neville Brody, Jonathan Barnbrook, Peter Saville, Paula Scher, Erik Spiekerman, Louise Filli, Steven Heller, Matthew Carter, John Maeda, Seymour Chwast, Sir John Hegarty, Alberto Alessi. If you follow my twitter @ToddADesign you'll know that I had been re tweeting some of the inspirational quotes from this years conference. I have included just some of the highlights below.


"If you’re not doing what you love then I think you’re crazy.”
"Crazy hair has its advantages. People come up and talk to you."
Stanley Hainsworth makes it a point to talk to everyone. Human interaction is our most meaningful tool.

"Colours are like musical notes. You can play endless games."

It took Emily Oberman 37 minutes from brief to delivery to design logo for UN's Global Response to Ebola.

It tastes better and feels better, no matter how serious the issue, when you have fun.

CEO of Nandos SA "It took us 10 years to become an overnight success."

"Get people horny for product and make a horny brand."

"I must be the first dad in history to skateboard to his daughter's birth."

"Music videos need to be seamless because (as someone told me) the eyes blink but the ears don't."

"Chaos is the only thing demanding you make something that matters.”
"Chaos does this amazing thing that order can't do. It shows you all the weird shit that order tries to hide."
"If you want to create a creative organisation you should forget everything static. Static is the last thing you want."
"Fail harder. You have to be able to fail."
"We couldn't even afford a phone when we started. We had to use a payphone down the hall."
"You wake up one morning and you're a network."

"I go to several conferences all over world. I guarantee you this is the best conference in the world"

Please visit the Design Indaba website here.


These products, designed by Deanne Viljoen, don't just look beautiful but were also so smooth to open and close. The 2DO range is a stackable system and each product is made from sustainable birch plywood, water based inks and are hand finished.
For more information contact:

My wife and I both loved this range of products including sugar spoons, teaspoon sets, salad and cutlery sets, ceramic tableware, leather handbags and jewellery. Beautiful products with real personality.
For more information contact:

Design Team
We also really love these patterned fabrics. The business focuses on design and print inspired by South African inspired textiles. My wife bought a folder and their range of fabrics were printed on everything from cushions and hand bags to large wall hangings.
For more information visit:


Thinking Differently

Just the other day I had a realisation that its been over 20 years since I left university! Two decade's later I still feel so fortunate to be able to do a job that I love so much and that challenges me on a daily bases, thanks in part to some of the fantastic teachers, lecturers and mentors who's lessons back then still play a role in my thoughts today.

One of my favorite lessons, that will always stay with me, was being taught the importance of your work really meaning something to you, putting heart and soul into everything that you do and most importantly, to think differently. Its interesting how one simple thing can change the way that you work and can stay with you for the rest of your career. This one particular event was so, so simple, yet brilliant, original and creative!

At the time I was studying A level art at South Bristol college (UK) and it was our very first lesson of the year. Our lecturer, who I remember resembling the late celebrity artist and television presenter Tony Hart had asked us to start the year by bringing in our very favorite piece of work. One by one, those who had remembered, worked through our slew of portrait, landscape and activist commentaries on society. Each one of us had valued our selection of work solely on the technical aesthetic of what we had achieved. Our lecturer gracefully commented on each piece, offering his vast experience.

What I remember liking so much about this particular lecturer was that he would never expect you to do something that he wouldn't do himself and after we had gone through all our paintings and drawings he was also going to show us the piece of work that he had done, that was his favorite. We all waited excitingly to see what he had brought in, after his many years as a successful artist/illustrator each one of us students were expecting to have our socks well and truly blown off. Throughout our lesson, his piece of work had sat behind his desk, ready for the big reveal. It had been facing away from the class and it was large enough that it stood a good foot above his desk. He always sat on his desk, never behind it. I loved that as it really made a statement to me! He was free thinking and not stuck up like some of the other lecturers. When all us students had finished showing our best pieces, my lecturer jumps from his desk, walks around and excitedly picks up his piece of work.

He looks across the class and with a smile on his face, slowly starts to turn his work around for us all to see.

Completely bemused, all of us students looked around at each other in confusion! Some laughed wondering if he had made some form of mistake. For all intents and purposes, it looked as if our lecturer had brought in his pin board from home. It was thick with pictures, notes, receipts and little drawings. Was this some form of joke or mistake!

When the noise from the class began to lower, the lecturer started to speak softly. He first confirmed that this was both his favorite piece of work and that it was also his family pin board. He told us that it represented the things that he valued the most in his life. It was his family and friends in a visual form. His daughters first painting. Hand and foot prints. Photos of his children, one was the day that his son had walked for the first time. There were also photos and receipts from activity's and day trips out together. There were letters from distant family and friends and somehow the whole thing just looked beautiful. He told us that the best art and design comes from emotion, experience and observation... From life.

Sometimes the answer can be staring us in the face and we don't even see it. As artists and designers, we need to see the world differently. It wasn't a painting or a drawing, but this pin board was his art. His art was his life! With great art and design you have to be able to see the hidden beauty that's all around us and then be able to translate that to your audience. And the fact that it's a commercial job is still no excuse. You need to maintain integrity in everything that you do. For instance, there are some organisations and companies that I just wont work for.

That pin board often comes back to me. It taught me an incredibly importance lesson about taking initiative and not always doing what you believe is expected of you. As a designer you should be looking for that simple clear meaningful answer in everything that you do. Work through all the rhetoric to find that hidden simple truth. You need to find your pin board in everything that you do!

This story dates back to the late 1980's. Just over ten years later, after Steve Jobs return to Apple, the company released their 'Think Different' campaign. This legendary piece of marketing was accompanied on the TV ads by the now famous 'Crazy Ones' speech, which played a significant role in the re emergence of the business. When I see past images from that campaign or hear that speech, I often think of my lecturer and his lesson. Ive added the full text of the brilliant 'Crazy Ones' speech below.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.


Addicted To Chaos - Inspiration From Dan Wieden

Last year Dan Wieden spoke at Cape Town's Design Indaba conference. Wieden's words have inspired me for many years, so it was a rare opportunity to hear one of the most respected authorities on advertising and creative thinking speak in person.

Wieden is probably best know for co-founding one of the worlds most admired advertising agencies; Wieden+Kennedy and coining the Nike tagline "Just Do It." Incidentally Wieden pitched the idea to Nike in 1988 after he had read a newspaper article about Gary Gilmore who was sentenced to death for murder. The condemned man was reported as saying “let’s do this” as he faced a firing squad. Wieden suggested a slightly altered version as the slogan, changing it to "just Do It". The rest as they say is history.

In his Design Indaba presentation, Wieden spoke on the importance of allowing yourself to be able to fail and his addiction to Chaos! Many years ago I stumbled across the 'Welcome to Optimism' blog which is written about life at the Wieden + Kennedy London office. If you go through the weblogs archives there is a fantastic transcript from a speech that Wieden had done just before the company moved their main Portland premises. Anyone that has worked with me has more than likely had this article recommend to them as I think it gives a really good alternative view on the importance of chaos in our lives and how it can actually inspire creativity! The article dates back to 2005 but its as relevant now as it was back then and really reinforces some of Wieden's Design Indaba speech from last year. I have re blogged the article below. Enjoy!

"When we started, no one in their right mind wanted to come to this weird little city on the banks of the Willamette (Portland, Oregon), cut off from the cultural mainstream, hell, cut off from culture, period. A city with virtually no nightlife. No history. I mean, the first house here was a log cabin built in 1844. That wasn’t that long ago, guys. The only ad people you could get to even consider moving here were people who had been fired from every legitimate and illegitimate agency in the country. Or kids fresh out of school, who didn’t know any better. We started as a ship of fools and that, I firmly believe, is why we have succeeded. We were struggling to figure out what an advertising agency actually was. And our one and only client, Nike, was trying to get a grip on what a client was supposed to do with one. We were both incredibly stupid. That was the key. See, when you don’t know, you try desperately to find out. But the minute you think you know, the minute you go – oh, yeah, we’ve been here before, no sense reinventing the wheel – you stop learning, stop questioning, and start believing in your own wisdom, you’re dead. You’re not stupid anymore, you are fucking dead.

Well, in 23 days, we are going to leave home. And in 36 days, when we land in the Pearl (new building), much of what we thought we knew – like where the bathrooms are – we won’t for sure. Good luck with the phones, the Xerox, the ability to ship and receive, to get your shirts laundered, to find a pool hall, a pencil, a friend, that approved script, or a moment of peace and quiet. What used to come easy will take work. All the little shit that you weren’t even aware of, but that made your life comfortable, will have vanished. Life will become a little less routine, our actions a little less unconscious. I can’t wait. See I have this addiction to chaos. I love it when I’m a bit anxious. It’s a sickness, okay. But it works for me. And the older I get, the more I need what upsets me, shocks me, makes me squirm, or get angry. The older I get, the more I value what forces me to take a second look. The more I respect people who don’t automatically respect me. I love this agency the most, when it’s off balance. Moving at 7,000 miles an hour, trying to take a sharp left turn, everybody holding their breath, laughing like hell, occasionally throwing up but smiling, and leaning right to make sure the fucking thing doesn’t trip over. Chaos does this amazing thing that order can’t: it engages you. It gets right in your face and with freakish breath issues a challenge. It asks stuff of you, order never will. And it shows you stuff, all the weird shit, that order tries to hide. Chaos is the only thing that honestly wants you to grow. The only friend who really helps you be creative. Demands that you be creative. Now, clearly, there are some disciplines in this organisation that don’t really need to have chaos as their operating policy. I’m thinking finance. I’m thinking traffic. But even in those departments that need to operate with Germanic precision, even there, we need enough uncertainty that we are forced to question how we do what we do so efficiently. And maybe, why we do it all.

The other thing chaos does is challenge authority. It cares more about truth than power. Political figures are fascinated with the agency and some have come by on a fairly frequent basis, just to share a meal, get our sense of things. I remember the first time a certain senator spent a couple of hours in our conference room with about a dozen freaks from the agency. He wasn’t there to lecture, or press the flesh, but to listen. It was a fascinating meeting, very frank, wide ranging. When I drove him back to the airport, he said, “what an amazing group of people. So young, so bright, so well informed. But I gotta tell you what was most astonishing was the complete lack of deference …. To you, to me, to anyone.” He wasn’t complaining, he was just mesmerized by the informality, the absence of authority.

I’m trying to get at something here that is very difficult to put into words. But it is the foundation upon which this agency is built. It is difficult to express, because it isn’t exactly a business philosophy. I’m not sure anyone here is smart enough to have a working philosophy. It is more an experience. Something we felt early on, and that we have tried to be true to as we have grown. For me, personally, it happened when the agency was maybe two years old. There were 11 of us. I was listening to a voice tape one night, late, or early, and fell asleep. When I woke up, the old reel to reel had run out and the tape was going flop, flop, flop, flop. And I had this existential crisis, I guess you could say. I was a young father of four children. Who I seldom saw. All my time being poured into this stupid set-up. All our finances tied up in boxes of pencils, copy machines, chairs, telephones, glazed donuts and coffee. To make stupid ads? What was the bloody point? Well, the point was not Dan or Dave (David Kennedy). The point was for Dan and Dave to create a place where people could come and live up to their full potential. Where they could do the best work of their career. Because that place relished freedom, diversity, and unpredictability. A place with very few rules. In case you haven’t heard ours, here they are. These rules David actually found in an empty file drawer when we were exiting our previous place of employment.

Don’t act big. No sharp stuff. Follow directions. And shut up when someone is talking.

The only other thing essential to know is our priorities. They were arrived at after a fifth of Cutty Sark (we couldn’t afford the good stuff):
The work
The client/agency relationship

This has been summarised into: The work comes first. And while it served as a great compass for many years, it has become the focus of much discussion and dissent of late. Well, it ain’t the holy writ. If you want to junk it, we can junk it. But here’s what insight the thing is based on. In big agencies, the client/agency relationship is the most sacred thing. The difficulty seems to be that the work then serves the relationship, and everything becomes political. And when things get political, the work suffers. And when the work suffers, the business suffers, then the client agency relationship suffers, and you suffer. In creative boutiques, the ego is supreme. The work is there to enhance personal reputations. If I said the work is wonderful, the work is wonderful. Shut up and sell it. Problem here: again, the work slip is, the client agency relationship goes south. When we say the work comes first, we are saying that things work best when everyone – client and agency alike – are focussed on whether or not this is great damn work. Politics aside. Egos aside. Is this hot shit, or not? There is this revisionist history that says in the old days, Wieden + Kennedy didn’t compromise on the work. If the client didn’t buy it, we’d say goodbye account exec or goodbye client. Oh, really? Actually, the idea was that if you had a client that let you do great work, then you could always find a way to pull it off. If they were so blind they didn’t get your idea after hours of argument and pleading, you simply went back to the boards. But you didn’t compromise. You always would come back with something as good, or better. Because you knew you could. Even when you didn’t know, you knew. Or someone knew. And when we say the client/agency relationship is second to the work, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Because the work is a direct reflection of the quality of that relationship. If it is strained, the work shows it. If people are having fun, it shows. If people are bleeding, it shows. If people are just trying to turn other people on, it shows. And that’s when it’s most effective. And when we put the individual last, it’s simply because of that weird old paradox in life that you serve yourself best when you serve others first. You might note, that while we say the work comes first, we don’t put it up in our lobby. And we don’t showcase our awards. What we honour are the individuals, in all their wackiness, that make Wieden + Kennedy what it is.

All very interesting, Dan. All very idealistic. But, dude, let’s talk about money. Money is a very seductive thing. I never expected to have any. I never entered the business with the goal of making great gobs of it. But I like having money. And apparently, judging from some conversations I’ve had at year end, so do you. So, this agency is committed to securing big, healthy portions of it. I can tell you, however, that we wouldn’t have made a lot of the decisions we have, if maximising profit was the primary goal of this organisation. To me, money is like oxygen. You can’t live without it. But is not the reason for living.

Have we sold out? I don’t think so. But it’s a question we must continually ask ourselves. Because I don’t think we’ll necessarily see it coming. And this, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t just my issue. Or the partners’. It is everyone’s. If we want Wieden + Kennedy to remain Wieden + Kennedy we gotta keep each other honest. Nobody ever got fired around here for being a confrontational asshole.

So, so ….. where to from here ? Just about anywhere our heart desires. I mean it. Look at us now. We are new again. New people, I mean totally new. Some percent of us just got here in the last 24 months. We got a new home. A list of new clients. A healthy balance sheet. Offices all over the globe. A creative reputation second to none. We are independently owned. And fuckin’ crazy as hell. It is interesting to hear talk about the good old days, but that agency no longer exists. All I need is that weird thing that seems to hang around in the ether here. That wacked out affection for letting go of the handrails. For throwing yourself off a cliff. We are making this up as we go. All of us. It is a joke, I know. But this is the most plastic of organisations. It needs you to realise itself fully. But I’ll try my best to tell you about the dream I’ve been having.

I see images of chaos and sometimes barbarism. Images of wildness and fury. Images of people entangled and separate. Images of people yelling at each other; they are so mad they are spitting nails. And I see images of people kissing each other, out of lust, friendship, insanity or maybe because they’ve been offered sufficient amounts of money. This is a garden of earthly delight-type stuff I’m talking about here. I see images of the future and rapid change, the kind that make your head spin and sucks your breath away. I see creativity in other people that surpasses my own wildest imaginings. And in addition to this blurry, exotic, high-volume stew of images and emotions, I see four corny, sappy, overly sentimental, trite, Norman Rockwellian images very clearly: