Computer Arts - - Special Report -

A visit to Cape Town soon shows why de­sign­ers are drawn to the city. The 2014 World De­sign Cap­i­tal is home to a num­ber of flag­ship global in­dus­try events, in­clud­ing the an­nual De­sign Ind­aba con­fer­ence and fes­ti­val, as well as a high num­ber of de­sign-led or­gan­i­sa­tions, events, net­works and pub­li­ca­tions.

In­spi­ra­tion is ev­ery­where. In­flu­enced by Zulu, Xhosa and other African tribes – as well as Dutch, Bri­tish, German, French and In­done­sian set­tlers – dis­tinct neigh­bour­hoods with di­verse his­to­ries and ar­chi­tec­ture of­fer cul­tural stim­u­la­tion, while breath­tak­ing land­scapes, an agree­able cli­mate and a rel­a­tively low cost of liv­ing add to the ap­peal. Statis­tics from Num­ show that the cost of liv­ing in Cape Town is 55.45 per cent lower than in New York and 46.38 per cent lower than Lon­don. Wages are lower, too, of course: ac­cord­ing to Ad Ta­lent’s 2016 salary sur­vey, graphic de­sign­ers with two to five years’ ex­pe­ri­ence earn on av­er­age be­tween R168,000-300,000 per year (ver­sus R192,000-R360,000 in Jo­han­nes­burg).

How­ever, while South Africa has made sig­nif­i­cant strides since 1994 to re­duce ex­treme poverty and crime, Cape Town ranked within the 10 most vi­o­lent ci­ties in the world in the most re­cent re­port from the Mex­i­can Coun­cil for Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and Crim­i­nal Jus­tice. Nev­er­the­less, cre­ativ­ity is a key driver of growth. The De­sign Ind­aba Expo, for ex­am­ple, con­trib­uted more than R2 bil­lion to the South African GDP over the seven years in which it ran.

Pure Cre­ative founder An­drew Burke re­turned to South Africa in the 1990s af­ter 10 years liv­ing and work­ing in the UK. He watched a new en­ergy de­velop af­ter Man­dela’s re­lease in 1990: “This en­ergy passed over into the world of de­sign and was sim­ply elec­tric,” he re­calls. “From ty­pog­ra­phers to prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ers, fash­ion de­sign­ers and artists, cre­atives are no longer ashamed to be African. We have em­braced our unique his­tory, tak­ing in­spi­ra­tion from the ge­o­graphic colours, land­scape tex­tures and the many tribes of Africa to de­velop an en­tirely new style that can stand proudly on the in­ter­na­tional de­sign stage. It’s an ex­cit­ing de­sign hub,” he says.

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