I have had the privilege of spending three days with inspiring, caring and driven individuals from design, business, education and the social sciences. Cumulus Johannesburg 2014 offered the following as a conference theme:
The Cumulus Conference to be hosted by GDC and FADA seeks to bring discussions around the role art and design can and should play in sustainable social advancement, particularly in the context of the African Continent. Focusing on notions of respect, responsibility and sustainability, this conference seeks to explore the vital role that design, visual culture and design education plays in addressing pressing problems of our planet, particularly for under-served communities that are rarely benefactors of the work of artists and designers. It is envisaged that Africa’s distinctive capacity to respond to such problems will be highlighted.
All I can say is that they delivered! Main themes that carried through so many talks included a sensitivity to cultural context and indigenous knowledge, as well as a focus on design with the community (design by the community being mentioned more than once). Embodied knowledge, revisitation of tools and methods, grounding of theory and practice, and a focus on ‘human beings’ instead of users were just some of the topics of discussion.
Thank you Cumulus Johannesburg, next year Milian