The line-up of speakers was inspiring. The fresh ideas that were shared challenged conventional advertising and design norms. The indaba broadened horizons and opened the eyes of attendees to the possibilities of design and advertising. Here are the top five lessons from the 2019 Design Indaba:
1. Sustainability is a priority for designers
One of the major themes of this year’s event was sustainability. Speakers shared their visions of a sustainable future in a variety of industries, including architecture, product design and healthcare. Reducing consumption is a priority for designers, architects and developers at the moment.
One such example of sustainable innovation in product design came from Mirjam de Bruijn. In her presentation, de Bruijn explained that many household liquid cleaning and cosmetic products are made up of about 80% water.
She has designed products that allow consumers to add this water themselves at home. This reduces the size of products, allowing them to be more easily transported in capsules. It also saves water wastage and makes the products cheaper.
Designers are finding innovative ways to help consumers reduce waste and consumption of natural resources. These are ideas of the future that will save the planet and allow humanity to live a sustainable existence with minimal impact on the environment.
2. Creatives are challenging stereotypes
In recent years, the world has become more aware of race and gender issues but stereotypes are still perpetuated in modern media and advertising. Filmmakers, marketers and artists are starting to challenge stereotypes and tackle these issues head-on.
Issues such as toxic masculinity, Islamophobia and gay rights are being broadcast to wide audiences. Stereotypes are being used to highlight alternative perspectives and opinions. The aim of creatives is to make the world a more tolerant and accepting place for all.
3. Representation is important
This point is directly linked to the one above. Representation is a key component in challenging stereotypes. While Design Inaba, itself, strives to be representative and open a platform of communication for creatives from all spheres of society – there is still work that needs to be done.
The indaba is still inaccessible to a large portion of young creatives. Tickets are costly and are unaffordable for most students and young designers, filmmakers and artists. The entire creative industry can learn from the valuable lessons shared at the Design Indaba, but if a large portion of the industry is unable to attend, progress will be slow.
4. Work should be meaningful, not just pretty
While design, film and photography is fundamentally about aesthetics, numerous speakers at the Design Indaba highlighted the importance of the meaning behind our work. Creative work should have an impact – a higher purpose – rather than just being pleasing to the eye. One of this year’s key speakers was David Droga, the founder and chairman of Droga5, an advertising agency headquartered in New York. He highlighted the importance of meaningful work and why it matters.
“It takes the same amount of energy to do something great as it does to justify something mediocre, so why the hell not make something great?,” Droga says. Creatives need to make their work matter. It makes the purpose of our jobs far more valuable, not only to society but also to ourselves.
5. Collaboration is becoming popular
While many advertising agencies (especially the big names) work on projects and campaigns alone, collaboration is becoming an attractive option for some agencies. The Design Indaba is not just a platform to share ideas – it is also a massive networking opportunity for attendees.
It enables creatives to link up and perhaps start mutually-beneficial business relationships. Working together on projects can reduce costs and improve the quality of ideas. It enables agencies to merge amazing ideas and create meaningful products that will benefit society. Collaboration can unlock the true potential of the creative industry.