Cape Town has won World Design Capital 2014 - and there has been much celebrating, congratulating and well-wishing going on in the streets. But what does being World Design Capital mean, and what can design do for Cape Town? Here's the design brief.
The client: In the words of Design Indaba's Ravi Naidoo, "Your client is the community." World Design Capital was set up to celebrate and support cities that are using design as a tool for the social, economic and cultural development of its communities. (And what's wonderful about a community is it can be as small as your street or as large as the globe. Let's start with our city.)
The challenge: The 1996 census found 54% of South Africans lived in cities. By 2030, that number is predicted to be as high as 70 to 75%. Design is key in making this urban growth sustainable and economically viable - for people and for perpetuity - ensuring we can house everyone by 2030 and beyond. We need to secure and support human systems and human happiness.
The aim: It's all about design as a way of life, and as a way of transforming people's lives. It's about rebuilding community cohesion, reconnecting Cape Town through infrastructure and its enhancement, and repositioning us for the knowledge economy.
The colour: Yellow. It's the hue of hope, the picture of optimism. It also complements all you blue-sky thinkers.
The budget: Public sector funding from the City of Cape Town, together with the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and Stellenbosch has got us this far. Now it's up to the private sector to come on board. Being resourceful is what Capetonians are good at. But our greatest resource is you.
The deadline: Our big year is 2014, when South Africa celebrates 20 years of democracy and Cape Town celebrates a year's worth of design-led events. But as individuals, as a city and as a species, we only have as long as we've got. Tomorrow is an uncertain country, and time is short: Water levels are rising, populations growing, species facing unprecedented rates of extinction. Cape Town, the time is now. We don't need another design chair - unless it's a chair in a public space - we need a design change.
This article first appeared in the November issue of City Views: Cape Town as an innovative design city.