CREATIVITY: Many parts make a whole. The author asks how we co-create the kind of city we all need and want. 	Photo: Sydelle Willow Smith
CREATIVITY: Many parts make a whole. The author asks how we co-create the kind of city we all need and want. Photo: Sydelle Willow Smith

Our city’s an inspiration station

By Time of article published Jul 9, 2014

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IN MY last column I described Cape Town’s World Design Capital designation as an opportunity to foster greater collaboration in our city, and to bridge divides. I noted that we still have time to make our World Design Capital year really count – to co-create the kind of city we all want – by stepping out of our silos and comfort zones and seeking out new connections.

Since writing those words, I have been deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Professor Russel Botman, Rector of the University of Stellenbosch and chairman of Cape Town Design, the implementing organisation for World Design Capital 2014. A forward-thinking and humble leader, Botman was a friend and an inspiration to me, and I would like to dedicate this column to his memory. His legacy will endure, not least of all through the many World Design Capital projects that are transforming lives throughout our city.

Over the past two weeks I have been greatly inspired by the number of World Design Capital projects that are actively encouraging collaboration to achieve positive social and economic change.

One example is the Better Living Challenge (#WDC204), a competition that called on local designers and innovators to come up with affordable green ideas to improve low-cost living. Part of the Western Cape government’s 110% Green initiative, which encourages organisations to commit to the Green Economy, the Better Living Challenge is being managed by the Cape Craft and Design Institute, with 47 experts from a wide range of sectors volunteering their time.

A number of Better Living Challenge co-design workshops were held in the run-up to the closing date, including one in Khayelitsha in May, where designers engaged with community members over two days to grapple with problems and jointly come up with creative ideas and solutions.

The competition attracted 130 entries, and finalists will be showcased at an exhibition in October. Members of the public will be invited to add their vote to the overall scoring of the competition winners. I am looking forward to seeing the creative ideas that will be presented, and I hope that many Capetonians will take the time to cast their vote for a design that could transform lives.

Importantly, winning projects will receive the support needed to take their ideas to market.

The past two weeks also saw the launch of one of the Cape Town Partnership’s nine World Design Capital projects, the Creative Cape Town App (#WDC284). We believe that creativity is a core aspect of Cape Town’s identity – both in an economic sense, and as something that defines the personality of our city: the tone of our street life, fashion, music and food. It engages our youth, has the potential to provide solutions to some of our most pressing social challenges, and inspires locals and visitors alike.

Our Creative Cape Town programme was established in 2006 to help unlock the potential of the creative economy, and to ensure that Cape Town continues to evolve as a creative capital and centre of knowledge and innovation. Much of our activity has focused on physically connecting Cape Town’s creative community via networking events, or through our monthly newsletter and publications. The Creative Cape Town App project came about when we were considering ways in which to map the vibrant creative industries of our city.

By devising an app that maps and connects the creative landscape of Cape Town, we hope to plug the gap between opportunity and talent.

Developed in partnership with local agency Domino Digital, the Creative Cape Town app allows users to access details (including the geographical location) of businesses and individual service providers spanning the breadth of the local creative sector. Creative businesses and individuals in Cape Town (and into the Western Cape) are able to upload their portfolios, services and events to the app for free, creating instant visibility and connectivity.

The free-to-download IOS app (Android is coming soon) connects creatives to clients and to one another – while helping the broader public access creative events and industries. It allows users to search for creative businesses, suppliers and learning centres, by list or geographically. It also offers visitors to Cape Town a quick overview of Cape Town’s rich creative offering. I strongly encourage creative businesses, large and small, to go to and list themselves on the directory for free.

This week saw the launch of another exciting World Design Capital 2014 initiative, Department of Design. A three-week-long event spearheaded by the government of the Netherlands and implemented by Future Cape Town, it aims to encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing, especially around sustainable design and social transformation.

The Provenance Auction House in Vrede Street, Gardens has been transformed into a multi-functional, temporary Department of Design hub that will host free workshops, events and activities from July 8 to 26, with the theme #cocreateSA.

Leading Dutch design company Studio Droog was enlisted to work with local artisans to create a spectacular pavilion, titled “FLOW”, using locally sourced scrap materials. The space also has a pop-up café and coffee shop that will be run by Khayelitsha-based Department of Coffee,wi-fi and a play space with educational toys. The full programme of events is available at

OPEN DESIGN Cape Town will return to our city, from August 13 to 23, with the theme “Design is for Change”. A joint initiative of the City of Cape Town, Cape Town Design Network and Cape Craft and Design Institute, OPEN DESIGN is an annual festival that aims to create an accessible platform to showcase how design and design thinking can positively affect our lives. With collaboration at its core, many of the events on the OPEN DESIGN programme are crowd-sourced and can be loaded via their website

And finally, Friday July 18 would have been Madiba’s 96th birthday. I went on to the Mandela Day website for inspiration on how I can make an impact with my 67 minutes. It was amazing to see the many creative ways people are investing their time and energy to make a difference. The website features these simple yet profound words from Mandela: “It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it”. I am going to remember that.

Talk to me @darksjokolade

l Makalima-Ngewana is chief executive of the Cape Town Partnership.

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