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OPEN DESIGN Cape Town: Sharing up a storm

 OPEN DESIGN Cape Town: Sharing up a storm

What happens when you take a group of inspired innovators, educators, change-makers and entrepreneurs adamant to make design and design-thinking widely accessible and a city where design is the very heartbeat of its continued evolution? OPEN DESIGN Cape Town; a 10-day festival from 21 – 31 August, focusing on “Design is for Sharing” and encouraging Cape Town’s design community and the public to openly share their design with each other, raising awareness of and increasing appreciation for design by all.
OPEN DESIGN Cape Town is a collaboration by the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI) in partnership with the Cape Town Design Network (CTDN), the Western Cape Furniture Initiative (WCFI) and the City of Cape Town (CoCT). It is an annual cross-disciplinary citywide winter festival creating an educational, informative, inclusive and collaborative platform where design and its numerous disciplines aim to galvanise Cape Town’s design community to openly share their design and show its significance and relevance to society today.


OPEN DESIGN Cape Town is not just another design festival, but a platform to open peoples minds to the possibilities of design, not only to function as a core element within social, cultural and economic contexts, but also in the way it can engage and form part of everyday life.

“Open Design Cape Town is a grass roots movement concerned with the ways in which design can engage directly with the man on the street,” explains Y Tsai, creative director for OPEN DESIGN Cape Town and founder of Tsai Design Studio. “It is also a call to action for the design community to share their creative skills to help solve some of our most pressing social issues.”

By creating an environment in which anyone can share their ideas, OPEN DESIGN Cape Town is creating a multitude of channels through which to demystify design and rather celebrate our design culture through the lenses of various design academies, professional bodies, industry initiatives and individuals. And with Cape Town being World Design Capital 2014, this is the perfect city to launch the inaugural event.

Be Open and Share

To ensure that the events taking place during OPEN DESIGN Cape Town echoed the ethos on which the festival was founded, the theme of “Design is for Sharing” was chosen, and at the heart of OPEN DESIGN Cape Town is the people who are willing to participate.

“While we coined it as a theme, ‘Design is for Sharing’ encapsulates more of a design philosophy.” explains Zahira Asmal, founder of DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA and Programme Curator for OPEN DESIGN Cape Town. “Design for us is inclusive, integrated and engaging, from a micro sense as an expression and educating technical skill to a macro sense in procurement, information sharing and designing systems for cities and nations to develop better and make good quality design more accessible. We as designers and design thinkers need to share our craft and engage others in this process.”

The theme aims to create an educational, informative and inclusive festival encouraging design practitioners, managers, media, students, educators and any member of public to share their design. It’s through the sharing of design that we wish to demonstrate the transformative power of design through celebrating design, talking about it, reflecting on it and engaging with it.

As Sune Stassen, City Hall and education programme manager for OPEN DESIGN Cape Town and founder of Rock City Foundation says, “To be truly open about design means to include, share, educate and empower all who want to participate. Because we are working towards building a more sustainable future, the ability to successfully collaborate and share knowledge becomes some of the key building blocks towards realising this future.”

Taking part

Participation is key to the success of OPEN DESIGN Cape Town and the festival invites design practitioners, managers, media, educators, students, institutions and members of the public to tap into their creativity and find the way they know best to share their design.

“Open Design is about taking design off the shelf, out of the lounge and into the everyday,” says Christo Maritz, branding manager for OPEN DESIGN Cape Town and founder and creative director of Infestation. “By sharing design we invite the whole of Cape Town to take pride and take part in an industry that not only builds our economy but also transforms lives.”

Design sharing can take a number of forms, from open studio cocktail parties, film nights and design initiative forums to free lectures at academic institutions, creative agency talks and individual designer workshops. What is most important with any event taking place as part of OPEN DESIGN Cape Town is that it has something to share with those attending and they leave empowered and inspired by the session.

To take part in OPEN DESIGN Cape Town is as simple as adding your event to the programme on

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What’s on the programme?

The historical Cape Town City Hall will become the central hub for the festival and play host to the main OPEN DESIGN Cape Town festival events, from real-life dialogues, dynamic lunch time sessions and a movie programme set to inspire, to the “Design for All” exhibition, which will highlight examples of best practice that will help in demystifying design and showcase the real impact of great design through projects, products, systems, environments and services that are contributing to the live transformative values of many.

“OPEN DESIGN Cape Town festival will not only entertain young and old but will also educate, inspire and share the values of design when we open the City Hall doors and invite people in,” Stassen says. “ Taking design to the people is what the festival is all about. Come play, share, collaborate, find and explore your creative power, be inspired and participate!”

The city and its surrounds will become a hive of activity with numerous people submitting their events to take part in sharing their design. The programme will be a mix of free and ticketed events and details of each event can be found on and most importantly – everyone is welcome!

Join the OPEN DESIGN Cape Town conversation on Twitter (@opendesignct), Facebook (opendesignct) and Instagram (opendesignct) and begin sharing your design with us wherever you find inspiration.

For more information on OPEN DESIGN Cape Town, contact or visit For media enquires contact For programme information contact and for information related to City Hall and educational programmes contact

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