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Design and culture in Cape Town, South Africa

Design and culture in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town has always been Africa’s unofficial design capital and is marked by the ingenuity and entrepreneurial nature of its citizens – who make clever use of recycled materials, and produce cost-effective products which, at the same time, provide employment.

Cape Town’s design culture is illustrated by the number of tertiary education institutions offering degrees and short courses in design-related fields. It is also home to the internationally-lauded Design Indaba Expo, Loerie Awards, Fashion Week, and Creative Week Cape Town, and the Cape Town Design Route is a trail around the greater Cape Town metropole highlighting vetted designers and community projects worth seeing.

In November 2011, Cape Town was awarded the official World Design Capital designation for 2014, rising above competing shortlisted candidates Bilbao, Spain, and Dublin, Ireland, to take the title on the twentieth anniversary of South Africa’s democracy.

Cape Town’s bid to be World Design Capital 2014 formed part of a broader vision to position Cape Town as a leading global city – a hub of creativity, knowledge, innovation, and excellence – and to build on the city’s World Cup success. Cape Town is far more than just a city of great natural beauty, attracting only leisure tourism. It is an inspired place of business, scientific and academic innovation, and a world-class center of design.

World Design Capital is a title that recognizes cities that are using design for social, cultural, and economic development and enables a year-long program of design-focused events that attract the attention of design communities from across the globe.


Cape Town’s year-long World Design Capital program will include a good balance of events aimed at attracting international audiences and attention, as well as locally-focused events aimed at promoting design thinking and an understanding of design as a problem-solving tool among locals.

The content of the World Design Capital 2014 program of events will be informed by projects of the past, present, and future. These events will include a mix of exhibitions, conferences, festivals, workshops, networking opportunities, and celebrations. The international program will also include a number of World Design Capital 2014 Signature Events, in partnership with ICSID.

Excitement is mounting in Cape Town as all energy is focused on how design is shaping the future and changing lives – and Cape Town promises to be an inspiring visit for creatives, innovators, and urban explorers in the years to come.