Open Design 2014

Open Design 2014 festival will come to an end tomorrow, following eleven days of exhibitions, talks, workshops, conferences and performances. The festival is at the heart of design in Cape Town and showcases many project around the city during and after the main festival. I had the privilege of being involved in a number of activities over the course on the festival and have been left feeling intellectually exhausted, creatively inspired and emotionally re-connected. That is the power of festivals I believe – to create a space and time in which we can work, share and imagine the best that we can be. But I find myself wondering where we go between festivals and exhibitions? The powerful discussions, emotive pleas and wild applause for those working on sustainable solutions and social innovations seems lost a few weeks after the main event. As daily routine returns I wonder where our revolutionary spirit goes. Pulled back under, by daily problems like funding, operations, materials, permissions, policy and capacity the dream of a better world is not lost, the waters of possibility simply seem a bit murkier. The passionate advocates for change are still passionate, just also aware that rent needs to be paid. I believe festivals offer us a little time in which we can focus exclusively on our goals and ideals, not bound by possibility or practicality. An occupational dream holiday one could say. And what a holiday Open Design 2014 was! The first Universal Design conference in Africa, daily talks by inspiring professionals, tours for scholars showing the possibilities of design, new technologies demonstrated and a curated exhibition of projects reflecting how South African design is impacting education, environments, sustainable solutions, mobility and communication. Next week, when the familiar daily routine threatens to return I hope I can keep it at bay just a little longer. To remain focussed on the real goal, the one we set ourselves, the one we chase everyday, the one we dream about. If not, I may need to consider another occupational dream holiday.

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