We had the privilege of attending Design Indaba 2019. Although we didn’t quite make it to The Mother City, we were inspired by all the speakers at the Johannesburg simulcast held at LISOF, Blairgowrie. Despite a number of technical difficulties, some of our favourite and most inspiring talks tackled issues around sustainability, solving African problems, and the future of design.

Here are some of BLQ’s highlights from Design Indaba.


Wanuri Kahiu

Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu delivered a powerful talk about her role in the African film landscape and how audiences need to play their part in creating authentic African content. Her film, Rafiki, tells the story of two Kenyan girls who meet and fall in love. Unfortunately, the film was subsequently banned in Kenya due to its LGBTQI content.  Kahiu is inspired by African folklore; not only do her stories represent her own inspirations but they also pay homage to other brave African artists who portray African narratives.

Kahiu is part of the Afrobubblegum movement that aims to not only create content that reflects the seriousness of continental issues but also wishes to tell joyful and more frivolous stories. Kahiu is passionate about educating audiences on their role and responsibility to support African films so that “Black Panther doesn’t become the only film that represents black voices in mainstream media.”





Keenan Wyrobek

Keenan Wyrobek is the co-founder and head of product and engineering at Zipline. He took us through how he and his team built and designed a drone service that delivers life-saving medicine and blood in Rwanda. Zipline has been contracted by the government of Rwanda to deliver to clinics across the country. Using autonomous aircrafts, these medical drones save time and can reach patients in remote areas. It is currently the largest drone delivery service of this kind in the world, and the success of the project is an excellent example of how government and the private sector can co-create to solve local problems. Design Indaba audiences went on a live feed tour of their facility in Muhanga, Rwanda, and got to witness how this well-oiled machine gets to saves lives through using drone technology.






Carolien Niebling

Zurich based product designer Carolien Niebling teamed up with a butcher to create the sausage of the future. Inspired by the need for humanity to consume less meat, the duo interrogated ways to introduce plant-based ingredients to sausages. Unlike soy sausage alternatives, they wanted to work with the meat industry instead of replacing meat completely. The results are beautifully designed sausages that look more like pieces of art than the simple braai staple we know so well. Niebling uses design to entice us into considering eating not only vegetable sausages but also insect salamis. We were particularly interested in how Niebling says that we have become ‘supermarket-eaters’, and how they are attempting to change how people view food and, more particularly, the sausage.







Steph Foster

Steph Foster is an American-based interdisciplinary artist who uses photography, video and music to portray the realities of the mass incarceration of African Americans. Born from a very personal story where his aunt was incarcerated for a non-violent crime, Foster explores realities where African Americans are much more likely to get incarcerated and get issued harsher sentences than their white counterparts. Foster’s project is a stark visual reminder of what black Americans face and how prejudiced convictions can alter communities.





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