Events and Festivals / Western Cape

Cape Town Design Capital 2014 – diarise these events and projects

Updated Friday, 26 May 2017

Cape Town was recently listed one of 52 places the New York Times regards as THE places to visit in 2014. The loss of Mandela has placed South Africa in the hearts of many the world over.

Cape Town as World Design Capital 2014, the article says, is grappling with the challenge of transformation since Mandela’s first address as a free man 20 years ago.

2014 is the year the city’s creative class take on this challenge by celebrating design in all its forms over the year …

Fashion shows, architecture open houses, visits by the public into artists’ studios and various exhibitions fulfill the aspects of innovation and beauty.

And a series of projects aims to bridge the divide, reconnecting the city with communities, and creating sustainable and beautiful solutions for people and the planet.

These projects include the rejuvenation of black-majority townships like The Maboneng Lalela Project, Foodpods that builds sustainable farms and gives people access to healthy produce, and the Langa Quarter project that will convert the area into a cultural tourism destination.

Cape Town WDC 2014

Cape Town Design Capital – just what is it?

Every two years the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (very long name that can be compressed into the accronym: ICSID) chooses a World Design Capital. That city is recognised for its creative efforts to use design as a tool for progress.

“A World Design Capital is not a status designator, rather a state of being. It is defined by the commitment that a city has made to use design to reinvent itself. Sustainable results or a commitment to develop the city are visible and a changing attitude is detectable.”

In 2008 it was Torino, in 2010 it was Seoul and in 2012 Helsinki.

Cape Town’s theme

L I V E  D E S I G N .  T R A N S F O R M  L I F E .

What it means for Cape Town (and indeed, South Africa)

Creatives from around the world will descend on Cape Town throughout year to learn, share and collaborate with local projects, talent and events. As a design capital the city is on promotion.

The key

Design initiatives that improve the quality of life and the economy of Cape Town.


The year is a series of events the general public, and designers from across the world, can attend.

Here are a few to diarise:

26 Feb – 9 March GUILD – 16 designers from 10 countries across Africa, curated by Southern Guild on show at the Lookout, Granger Bay, V&A Waterfront.

11 – 15 March Infecting the City – Spier’s free, public arts festival that brings artistic excellence and thought-provoking performances out of theatres and galleries and into the streets of Cape Town.

25 – 28 April 100% Design South Africa – the largest showcase of contemporary design in Africa.

August – Better Living Challenge – a WC Government’s 110% Green Initiative project that promotes sustainable housing solutions to the growing housing backlog in SA.

9 – 17 August Open Design Cape Town – a citywide cross-disciplinary celebration and sharing of design and design thinking.

August Mercedes Benz Cape Town Fashion Week – African Fashion International’s Spring/Summer fashion platform.

August/September Workshop 17 – a collaborative ‘living laboratory’ and innovation hub where inventions, prototypes and new products are tested, along with new business models aligned to African markets.

16 – 18 September Innovation Summit 2014 – SA’s premier innovation event of the year brings together thought leaders in the field of innovation to showcase success stories, share lessons and connect with peers.

22 – 30 November Design House Exhibition – cities from around the world show their ultimate Design Houses.

Food Indaba – interactive events throughout the year that deal with food security, sustainability and design end in an exciting Indaba.


World Design Capital 2014 includes 450 projects, selected from a total of 1 253 submitted projects, that use design to improve people’s lives. Some of these include:

Isizwe – aims to harness the power of the internet in low-income communities for education, and use it as a catalyst for change. Free Wifi in libraries, schools and community centres in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha.

Open Streets – citizen-driven initiative that promotes the recreational use of car-free streets across the city – 15 march, 25 May, 24 Sept, 29 Nov.

Meet the Makers – a glimpse into the creative processes, spaces and personalities of local creative practitioners – from architects to educators, designers to dancers – studio visits and a documentary film series.

Solar Sculpturing – photovoltaic solar materials harness the sun to turn public art into a community hot spot and energy zone. By day an outdoor exhibition, by night a self-illuminating sculpture.

Paperight – a network of independent copy shops that print books for customers quickly and legally – putting books within walking distance of every home.

Design Storming – a platform for inclusive and participatory design that brings together design thinkers, community members and stakeholders to generate open source solutions for issues of social significance – 2 day workshops.

Too Good to Waste – a cooperative of 14 Western Cape Upcycle Designers recycling a variety of junk items to encourage awareness of new possibilities and ease the burden on landfills.

Maboneng township Arts Experience – an arts exhibition that turns homes in townships into galleries and outdoor spaces into performance districts. It already happens over two days in Gugulethu. This year it will expand to include Langa and Imizamo Yethu. To date it has turned over 70 homes into galleries and exhibited over 50 artists.


Pick up your copy of Cape Town Tourism’s Official Visitor’s Guide for Cape Town. The back side of it is a special edition guide to World Design Capital that includes various tours you can book.

12 tours include:

Urban Design and Liveability Tours – a circular route from the Fan Walk Bridge to examine how design can address the different needs of a city, from talll buildings to public spaces, led by Future Cape Town Director, Rashiq Fataar.

Coffeebeans Insider Tours – visits designers’ studios and World Design Capital projects, including the Langa Quarter, Bottom Road Sanctuary and Princess Vlei, Seed’s Urban Abundance Centre and Street Art walks.