South Africa’s annual design-fest, Design Indaba, and its maestro Ravi Naidoo, have merited places in the Hot 50 before. By bringing together top designers from across the world every February for a conference with a difference, Naidoo and his team at Interactive Africa have not just brought great design to the country. They have created an international design community, too.
Over the past three or four years, Interactive Africa has looked inward to its indigenous creative talent and sought to put its own greats on the platform alongside world favourites. It has also set up the Expo – an annual selling show of local fashion and design artefacts to run alongside the Design Indaba conference.
Now, though, it has taken a step further, commissioning architects to devise cheap sustainable housing for people living in the townships. It ran a 10×10 housing project, a contest that paired a local architectural practice with an international star. This was won by Johannesburg practice MMA Architects, led by principal and director Luyanda Mpahlwa, paired with London architect Will Alsop, who has spoken at the Architecture Indaba in the past – though Alsop appears to have been largely hands off throughout the project.
The first homes went on site just outside Cape Town early last year, with residents providing much of the labour. Sandbag technology was used to create simple insulated homes to replace homemade wooden shacks. •
The Duke of Edinburgh:
The Duke of Edinburgh has long been a strong champion of design. Among other positions he has held in the industry over the years, he has been patron of the Chartered Society of Designers since 1976.
He instituted his own prize scheme, the Prince Philip Designers Prize, in 1959 to celebrate outstanding lifetime achievement in design.
Not one to just lend his name to proceedings, he has taken an active role in the selection of recipients for the Prince Philip Designers Prize, chairing the judging panel. That panel vets candidates fielded by design bodies as diverse as the CSD, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The Duke’s personal interests lie on the engineering side of design, but this is not always reflected in the final outcome. Though this year building services engineer Max Fordham took the accolade, he beat a field including Sir John and Lady Frances Sorrell and packaging queen Mary Lewis.
Past recipients include the late great graphic designer Alan Fletcher, David Gentleman and the legendary Derek Birdsall. But the Prince Philip Designers Prize isn’t just reserved for senior citizens in design.
Thomas Heatherwick won the prize while still in his 30s, hopefully with a long career ahead of him.
Those who have served on the jury for the Prince Philip Designers Prize say the Duke is an exacting chairman. Long may his passion for design continue.
Professor Trevor Duncan:
The Hot 50 jurors like to include people who may not be well known, but nonetheless deserve recognition for their consistent work in design. Professor Trevor Duncan, Head of 3D Design at Northumbria University, is one of those people.
After graduating in 1990 with a first in 3D Design Silversmithing, followed by a masters in Industrial Design at Birmingham University, Duncan established his first business partnership and studio with Adam Veevers in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. In 1997 he became course leader of BA (Hons) 3D Design, Furniture and Product, at Northumbria University.
Duncan became head of the 3D Design Academic Group two years ago, and has shown continuous dedication and commitment to the design school, which is regarded as a distinctive and leading provider of design education.
He continually endeavours to develop the curriculum and, along with the design school staff, creates programmes that provide students with the opportunity to acquire excellent design-related skills.
His specialist knowledge on product and furniture design, design for manufacture and external practice experience make him an exemplary educationalist at the university.
He has also been an instrumental figure for the new design school, offering advice on graphics, the building’s levels and textiles.
Sir James Dyson:
Sir James Dyson is undoubtedly one of the UK’s greatest designers and inventors. Anyone who has heard of Dyson will probably envisage a bagless vacuum cleaner with dual cyclone technology. However, his inclusion in the Hot 50 relates to his relentless work in design education.
The James Dyson Foundation was established in 2002 to promote charitable giving and assist educational institutions working in design, technology and engineering. Dyson has always passionately believed the UK needs a design school and last year his dream nearly became a reality.
In April 2008, he unveiled his plans to build the Dyson School of Design Innovation, after the go-ahead from Bath & North East Somerset Council.
The £30m school, designed by architect Wilkinson Eyre, was to provide engineering and product design diplomas, A-levels and GCSEs to 14- to 19-year-olds. Unfortunately, plans were abandoned after the Government rejected the funding proposal.
Despite the setback, Dyson continues to pursue his educational goal. He is looking to fund existing design courses instead of setting up a school.
A website designed by the Dyson team in collaboration with Attic Media is launching early this year to create an online educational community for young people. Dyson had pledged £12.5m to the school project through his foundation.
Last year, Dyson also launched his 2009 design awards. Student and graduate designers from 21 countries will battle to win a £20 000 prize, to be awarded in September.
Professor Max Fordham:
Professor Max Fordham’s success as winner of the 2008 Prince Philip Designers Prize helped to draw the attention of the broader design community, not just to a man who has displayed excellence in his work over some 30 years, but also to an aspect of design that is largely unsung.
But if building services – heating, ventilation and air-conditioning to most of us – is the poor relation of, say, architecture or structural engineering in the construction industry, it is surely a profession that is gaining in importance. Building services engineers hold the key to energy efficiency in the built environment at a time when global warming is demanding that we take greater control of our excesses.
Fordham is described as ‘a pioneer of the Green building movement’. He has been in practice for more than 40 years and is acknowledged as a pioneer of low- and zero-carbon development. Environment-friendly buildings to his credit include Lord’s Cricket Ground’s indoor school, Poole Arts Centre and Tate St Ives.
Such projects have meant close collaboration with a number of top-flight architects and other building professionals. His influence on these has helped to make the UK a leader in the field of Green building design.