Episode 1 – Urban Design / Public Spaces
In the first episode we explore urban design and the power of design to solve problems, develop cities and transform lives. The first episode opens on the presenter at the Lynedoch EcoVillage in Stellenbosch. He / she introduces the concept of the series; duality, specifically Form vs function, cost effectiveness vs quality and problem vs solution. To illustrate this we talk to the manager of the Eco-village about that aim of creating a a successful working example of a liveable, ecologically designed urban system whilst being financially and economically independent. The World Cup was a great opportunity for investment and engagement in our cites and it brought about the re-design of many of our public spaces including Cape Town’s fan walk and Greenpoint Park as well as Johannesburg’s Ernest Oppenheimer Park among others. We look at the designs of each and talk to people, both professionals and the public about what the changes mean to them and how these projects contribute to a sustainable future for South Africa.
Episode 2 – Transportation
Episode two picks up the themes of the first episode and continues to explore the radical re-conceptualisation of the South African public transport system. From the Gautrain to the BRT systems in CPT and JHB, the last few years have seen the beginning of a turnaround in the ways that people get around. In the 21st century, environmental factors mean that we need to find viable alternatives to the individual motorist in a car burning fossil fuels. Until then, we envision a future where zero-emission cars such as the Joule are used in combination with cycling initiatives and a functional public transport system giving people access to a wider variety of job opportunities and facilitating economic growth from the grassroots. There are still many challenges and since design is driven by solving problems, we look at the remaining challenges as well as showcasing the world class infrastructure that has already been implemented.
Episode 3 – Architecture
SA has some of the world’s foremost architects who are breaking boundaries and leading the world in energy efficient buildings as well as creating some of the most unique and adventurous buildings anywhere in the world. This episode touches on a variety of public building projects including the Nedbank HQ in Johannesburg, certified as SA’s first Green Star building. It is certified by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) which testifies to the environmental friendliness of each building through a strict certification process which incorporates design, construction and operational practices that significantly reduce or eliminate building’s negative impact on the environment and its occupants. We interview Andy Horn owner of Eco Design – Architects & Consultants, an architectural practice which specializes in ecological friendly green building and consulting. Established in 1998 the practice has been at the forefront of the green building movement in South Africa and has won a number of international awards in the field of sustainable design. The Design Indaba’s 10x10 project encouraged sustainable design, construction and operation principles and we talk to one of the selected entrants, Luyanda Mpahlwa of MMA Architects about her design for a cost-effective family home. Another building project is Zenkaya, a fusion of modern technology and practicality. The housing units are modular, cost effective and pre-fabricated so they would be an ideal solution to help solve the housing crisis as well as being both attractive and practical.
Episode 4 – Industrial Design
Industrial design is a field where South African designers excel. Local innovations were been instrumental in 20th century global development from the CAT scan machine to the Rooivalk helicopter. In honour of the South African designed Dolosse which protects the shores of harbours around the world this episode is introduced from the Cape Town waterfront. In the 21st century local industrial designers have come up with several products that enhance lives whilst being sensitive to the needs of the environment. Freeplay wind-up radios have given millions access to news and information without the need for electricity whilst the Q-drum is a low tech solution for Africa’s problems of water collection. The World Health organisation states that a small improvement in water collection and supply would drastically contribute to an increase in GDP and a dramatic decrease in health costs. The Play-pump is a children’s roundabout that also pumps water combining fun with practicality.
Episode 5 – Product Design
There are literally hundreds of designers in South Africa making products out of recycled materials and moving towards the use of energy efficient processes. This episode looks at some of the most innovative and economically viable projects such as Give It Bags which are designer bags from South Africa made from re-used material that started out as packaging for salt, sugar, rice, beans, flour etc. Greengimmix.com is an online shop selling “Green – innovative and technological products “. Greener is considered better- for our homes and families and for our world.Denka is a company that has been involved in several social upliftment projects, designing products aimed at enriching communities through not only the products themselves, but educating individuals in the long term.Heath Nash is known for his ability to ‘upcycle’ trash into high-end, hand-made products and installations that are in global demand. Speaking about designing for ‘people and posterity’, he concluded by emphasising the importance of making a city more liveable and people-friendly through design: ‘If you can rely on your surroundings and your city to work for you, then you will work for your city.’
Episode 6 – Interior Design
As well as leading the way in eco-friendly product design, South African interior designers are at the forefront of green design in the home and office. Re-evaluating our work and living spaces with respect to work-flow, materials and energy efficiency has a huge impact on our carbon footprint. Buying local products, recycling antique furniture and using renewable materials all contribute to a healthier planet. This episode is brought to you from the 'hemp house', a newly-constructed home which overlooks the sweeping expanse of Noordhoek's Longbeach. The brief for the interior design was to create a healthy, warm, modern, earth-inspired and energy-efficient environment that showcases hemp and other environmentally-friendly products. The hemp aspect of the building, which accounts for up to 50% of the walls, was grown in 4-5 months without the need for agro-chemicals, and results in a natural, sustainable and carbon-friendly lifestyle. NRG Designs is a Johannesburg based company which advocates the use of eco-friendly bamboo in everything from floors to towels. It uses far less water than trees to grow, it’s less toxic and incredibly durable. We also interview a designer from Purespace Design, a design installation company that focusses on the commercial sector. Their aim and philosophy is to create inspiring innovative spaces using sustainable/eco-friendly materials & processes.
Episode 7 – Furniture Design
This episode looks at durable products that are unique, of high quality and which incorporate and promote sustainable development. Wiid Design focuses on producing truly unique products designed and manufacture in Cape Town. These products incorporate materials such as cork, paper pulp, terracotta, felt, wood, porcelain, cast iron, stainless steel and state of the art energy saving LED’s. Cabinetworks is a South African design company that wants to bring true quality and sustainability to its market. They follow a natural and function-driven approach to design. Their pieces include kitchen cabinets and furniture pieces. Jungle Furniture is a company that follows a strict environmental ethic with regards to what materials they use, and their wood is kiln dried and treated with Boron, a non-toxic treatment.
Episode 9 – Ceramics and Metalwork
Avoova ostrich eggshell designs are a rare and precious form of functional art; a luxurious veneer of eco-friendly ostrich eggshell fragments, exquisitely handcrafted to embellish decorative items, fashion accessories and bespoke furniture. We also talk to designer Carrol Boyes. Her company is a wholesale manufacturer of upmarket homeware and tabletop items. It is a woman owned-business and a multi-cultural organization that supports gender empowerment. Porcupine is a ceramics studio which employs staff from the surrounding areas, all of whom have been trained in their skill, and encouraged to strive for personal growth within the framework of a team of highly creative people from South Africa. Each piece produced in our studio is made with special attention to detail and by a collective group of artisans. Besides the human aspect, our industry is environmentally friendly. Bronze Age is a multifunctional art foundry that specialises in casting sculpture in bronze with both the lost wax and sand casting processes. The design studio produces a wide range of products, ranging from lights, interior accessories to our trademark bowls and exclusive, once-off furniture pieces.
Episode 8 – Lighting Design
In this episode we look at the field of lighting design and how the use of LED bulbs and renewable materials can come together to create eco-friendly yet stunning designs. The Eskom Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition, held once every two years, is an invaluable channel for uncovering innovation and ideas in the burgeoning field of green lighting design. By highlighting the opportunities for energy efficient lamps and technologies, the competition has helped stimulate wider-spread acceptance of green lighting designs and systems, making it an important part of Eskom’s on-going programmes to inculcate a culture of energy and resource consciousness among South Africans. We talk to last year’s winner and an Eskom executive. The Solatube natural lighting system uses a solar reflector inside an acrylic dome to capture the sun’s light. The dome is mounted on a UV protected roof tile fitting that is unobtrusive and guaranteed leak proof. The light is directed down a highly mirrored aluminium tubing system to an attractive diffuser on the ceiling – designed to flood specific areas with an even spread of energy saving natural light. The Magpie Art Collective is based in Barrydale, Western Cape - South Africa. Sean Daniel, Scott Hart, Richard Panaino and Shane Petzer make up the dynamic team that produces innovative lighting concept, installations, chandeliers and homefineware. Their studio facilitates a craft income generation project with local community members, is actively engaged in recycling, green and social issues and hosts two annual event happenings.
Episode 10 – Communication Design
Communication and graphic design is one of South Africa’s strengths. The World Cup was testament to our ability to create outstanding visual campaigns. Eco-friendly graphic design begins with the use of re-cycled paper and printer cartridges as well as low-ink typefaces. It also encompasses efficiency of processes, lowering use of water and electricity and skills development. At Leo Loves Design they believe in sustainable design. Not just the longevity of the concept, but the longevity of the earth. They are passionate about the environment and love to work with clients who feel the same way. We find out more about how they promote the use of environmentally friendly methods in their designs and processes. Packaging design is another great opportunity for using materials more efficiently. Reduced packaging also equates to reduced transportation costs and the associated pollution. We talk to Woolworths about their principles for eco-friendly packaging using pioneering bio-degradable (cellulose) plastics, recyclable materials and less ink. Their shopping bags use 45% recycled plastics and their range of earth-friendly toiletries and cleaning products are bio-degradable and are not tested on animals.
Episode 11 – Fashion Design
South African fashion designers have been at the forefront of the eco-revolution. Lunar is the preeminent eco-conscious fashion label in South Africa. Lunar is the lifestyle vision of fashion designer Karen Ter Morshuizen. Since its inception Lunar has been sensitive to environmental concerns, making use, almost exclusively of natural fibres and pigment dyes, and reviving old-fashioned techniques such as hand knitting, smocking, felting, African beading and hand embroidery. With these principles Lunar aspires to enter the global market where they can reach a larger audience with their message and continue to contribute, educate and inspire. Craig Jacobs is the designer behind Fundudzi – a Jo’burg based label that believes that what you wrap around your body should be a reflection of your environmental and social stance – provides clothing with a conscience for women. All of his clothes are made with organic fabrics, including bamboo, soy and corn and produced in Africa. The range is inspired by Lake Fundudzi, a sacred site for the vhaVenda that is the mythological burial ground of their forefathers. The Eco Trend Collection designs and manufactures clothing handcrafted using blends of natural and organic raw materials. The company is affiliated to the organic trade association and subscribes to the principles of fair trade, so they rate high on the eco scale.
Episode 12 – Arts & Crafts
South African craft is cool. The handmade is the mother tongue giving rise to a new African design language which blends the urban with the organic, the neo with the natural, and the sophisticated with the rustic. The CCDI supports craft producers and helps to network all players in the product-to-market chain. This includes craft producers and designer-makers, retailers, marketing agents, exporters and service providers such as designers, product developers, skills trainers, business development practitioners and mentors. Crafty Corner has perfected the art of making unique recycled gifts and it takes a mind shift for most people to view what is traditionally called 'waste,' 'rubbish' and 'trash' as something with value and potential. But with the right open-minded view and of course some creative skills just about everything deemed disposable can be repurposed into something useful and aesthetically pleasing. Crafty Corner is closely involved with social entrepreneur projects in which impoverished individuals are given the chance and support necessary to earn a living by creating these eco-friendly treasures. The South African Handmade Collection represents the highest quality, design led, well manufactured, environmentally friendly South African craft products, conforming to fair trade practices.
Episode 13 – Garden Design
This episode comes from Kirstenbosch gardens. We take a look at some of the indigenous plants while the presenter introduces the concepts of urban food-growing initiatives and water-wise gardening. Many of us have the desire to create a lush green garden surrounding our homes, but we seldom realise the impact this has on our environment, especially on dwindling water resources. By conserving water through water-wise gardening we can delay the building of new dams, tunnels and pipelines. This will save money and protect the environment. It is a responsible choice, and our gardens are a good place to begin. We also look at the Siyazama Community Allotment Garden Association which provides a sustainable source of food as well as skills development for the local community. Wallflower urban garden designed by Haldane Martin is a modular planter system that is designed to enable city dwellers with a shortage of space, to grow veggies and other plants on vertical walls - thereby greening the concrete jungle and shortening the distance between the farm and the fork. The containers are made from recycled plastics in a honeycomb design that mimics nature.
* Note that some of these contributors may not be available for interview for the series and will be replaced by contributors with the same or similar principles and products.