Design Indaba: Pecha Kucha

Seven design graduates demonstrate the future in an insightful group talk at Cape Town's creative conference

From the seven recent design graduates highlighted for their distinct talents at Cape Town’s Design Indaba conference on creativity, three particularly stand out for their innovative viewpoint and compelling demonstrations. While the others—Camille Blin, Dirk Van Der Kooij, Lindsay Kinkade and Christine Goudie—all presented well-founded concepts in their respective fields, the inimitable talent of Nelly Ben Hayoun, Laduma Ngxokolo and Joe Saavedra made for an inspirational Pecha Kucha presentation and truly reflected the exciting future for design.


“Mad scientist” and interaction designer Nelly Ben Hayoun hopes to help people “lift off from their living room” with her Soyuz Chair, a rocket ship simulator that allows people to experience the feeling of take-off from a high-tech La-Z-Boy armchair. Dressed as an astronaut, this energetic RCA grad feels design allows us to “access our own dreams”—a concept clearly demonstrated with her “gigantic imaginary gadget.”

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Hayoun consulted with French astronaut Jean Pierre Haignere to achieve a completely accurate simulation, and kitted the chair out with electrical outlets in the back to plug in your vacuum cleaner or electronic equipment to make it a fully functional addition to the living room. Check out her website to see videos of the Soyuz Chair and her other physics-based projects such as the Super K Sonic Booooum from this self-dubbed “experience designer.”

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Young South African textile designer Laduma Ngxokolo hopes to “present his culture to the next generation” through knitwear inspired by the traditional Xhosa beadwork. Ngxokolo explained the concept he conceived while studying textiles at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University revolves around the rite of passage (abakhwetha) for young men on the Eastern Cape, who are forced to give up their entire wardrobe after circumcision. In a lighthearted demonstration, Ngxokolo proposed several stylish knit sweaters boasting colorful geometric patterns for the men to wear both after and during the abakhwetha ritual ceremony. Already a winner of the South African Society of Dyers and Colourists Design Compeition, Ngxokolo’s striking zig-zag sweater (pictured above, left) is up for award in Indaba’s “Most Beautiful Objects” competition this year.


DIY and open-source technology are what really drive Parsons grad Joe Saavedra, who gave an easily-digestible demonstration of his oft-complex projects he created while completing his Masters in Design and Technology. While his “SOBEaR” panda bartender/breathalyzer is an honest example of his interests, his “Citizen Sensor” really demonstrated his ability to design a product that can cross platforms using advanced technology.

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The sensor itself is a wearable tester for carbon monoxide, dust and other air quality conditions, and through his app for Android and iOS that data can be shared with people around the world for a true understanding of actual facts and figures. Explaining he’s “all about empowering people,” Saavedra hopes his sensor will help people have a real grasp on their personal space and the environment around them.

Sponsored by Design Indaba. Check back for further coverage on Cape Town’s conference on creativity.