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Cape Town’s World Design Capital status could mean radically shortened queues at city clinics.
Patients are currently waiting up to 14 hours in some cases.
It’s just one of the practical projects coming out of the city’s World Design Capital (WDC) 2014.
Richard Perez, the city’s WDC programme director, spoke to the Cape Argus about the possible city projects it could link to the design showcase.
He explained how design could be used to assist clinic patients, improve signage on Cape Town’s roads and streamline the city’s events process.
Local businesses could get on board, using design to create “innovative” products, ensuring customers stick with their company and making their organisation more efficient.
The event also paves the way for talks with other African countries, to start discussing design solutions to the continents biggest problems.
On Friday, the city officially signs the host city agreement with the International Council of Societies of Design, the owner of the WDC. The theme is “Live Design. Transform Life.”
City mayor Patricia de Lille has said WDC must deal with Cape Town’s “most pressing challenges”.
Perez pointed to the waiting times at local clinics.
“People have to take days off from work, the employers lose out… it’s a very good system because people do get their medication, but there is massive room for improvement.”
Cape Town also wants to position itself as a “global events capital”.
Perez said in this case, design will be used to streamline the application process for events.
He said some of the biggest challenges involved “segregation”, in that Cape Town was still a divided city.
Transportation would also be another area focus.
The city’s population is growing at a rapid rate and this needs to be factored into the design projects.
“The solutions have to be as inclusive as possible.”
Perez is also a director at the city-based design firm, XYZ design.
One of the practical design projects that the company has worked on was a “modular bicycle”.
This could be suited for residents living in outlying areas. It can be converted into a two-wheeler or three-wheeler bicycle and can also be used as a cart for horses.
Another project the company worked on, along with Harvard University, is a light bulb powered by dirt.
Perez explained the first step in the “design process” was identifying a problem.
This would be done through research with residents, designers and other bodies.
“Once you’ve you agreed on the problem, the critical thing is not to impose a solution.”
An implementing agency will deal with the projects for Cape Town’s WDC year, it will also handle public participation and drum up sponsorships for the event.
From the city’s side, it will present its most “innovative projects”.
Perez said there were already plans to teach school pupils more about design, starting as young as Grade R.
“There are a lot of initiatives to embed design in all South Africans.
Perez said the WDC would also start discussions with other African countries around using design to solve problems in parts of the continent.
“Not only is it grounded in the right context, but it’s appropriate. Gone are the days where studios in London are designing solutions for Africa.”