Nowhere can the power and politics of South African design give a clearer depiction of 2015 than in the poignant protest posters that came out of this year’s #FeesMustFall movement. To aestheticise them now could potentially impair their function and effect, but whether we like it or not, they are as much a symbol of that potent time in our history as the photographs and speeches that accompanied them. Some of the posters were as simple as a scrawled “1976?” to “Our parents were sold dreams in There was no end to the gated communities blossoming all over the continent this year – the R1 billion, Monaco-sized Steyn City in Johannesburg being the most lavish (and infamous) among them. We saw the emergence of the technopolis in Africa, where these “smart cities” are being hailed as the 1994 ... We are just here for the REFUND!!!” Some found the humour in a sad situation, such as: “Fees must be reduced to a figure Zuma can read!!!”; “What if the cure for Blade’s face is in a brain of a child who can’t afford university?”; and the brilliant: “Dear Blade: must 0% look like a beer bottle for you to understand?” Some conveyed absolutely nothing funny whatsoever: “Education should not be a debt sentence.” 2015 will go down as the year of the student and, as one poster brilliantly predicted: “We are F.UCT”. These posters are our design of the year.
next big thing in the future of a connected continent. Africa shone at the Expo 2016 in Milan as well, with the Morocco pavilion making a proud argument for the future of indigenous building techniques. Next year’s Venice Architecture Biennale will no doubt be all about the South African pavilion, which is out on tender at the moment.