This year's Design Indaba line-up boasted some seriously impressive names: Ane Crabtree of costume design fame, advertising guru David Droga and legendary architect John Pawson. But over the conference's jam-packed three days, it was some of the global graduates who really stole the show.
Making waves in their respective creative fields, these bright new stars shared some groundbreaking ideas, all of which had a recurring theme: to make the world a better place. From sausages of the future to bio-coffins and an innovative new mind management tool, here are four exciting new design projects that you need to know about.
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01. Mirjam De Bruijn - Twenty
Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Mirjam De Bruijn (opens in new tab) is the co-founder of Twenty products, a company and concept that first came about after De Bruijn found herself incredibly confused as to why we spend so much time transporting water around the globe. And we're not talking about drinking water. De Bruijn is referring to the water that makes up over 80 per cent of most of our household products.
What would happen if the water was left out? It would surely save a lot of unnecessary transport, CO2 emissions and packaging, right? That is the idea behind Twenty, which transforms everyday household items like cleaning detergent, dish soap and shampoo into powder, bars and liquid capsules that are ready to be mixed with water. The project is ongoing, and De Bruijn announced at Design Indaba 2019 that the first Twenty products are (aptly) expected to go on sale in early 2020.
02. Shaina Garfield - Leaves
When Pratt Institute design graduate Shaina Garfield took to the stage at Design Indaba, she was quick to share how four years earlier she had been diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, which made her become very aware of her own mortality. Garfield's diagnosis led to her discovering herself as an artist, using the earth to help heal her and reflecting on how humans can give back to the earth after they pass away. As part of that process, Garfield designed a bio-coffin, a project she titled Leaves, which uses a fungus to help bodies decompose and become part of the earth.
Speaking on her Instagram page (opens in new tab) Garfield says: "I realised that this project was about so much more than sustainability. Leaves uses macrame (the art of tying knots) as a way for the family to physically take time to grieve. Through creating the coffin themselves, this meditative and emotional process can bring healing and acceptance to those mourning."
03. Freyja Sewell - Mind Mirror
British furniture and product designer Freyja Sewell graduated from 3D Design at Brighton University, and recently wowed the Design Indaba crowd with her latest design project Mind Mirror. A medical training device, Mind Mirror uses cutting-edge technology to allow people to understand what is happening in their brains during meditation – with the aim being to facilitate mindfulness. Sewell's device helps to remove some of the mystery of what is happening when you meditate, guiding the user as they learn and helping people to master the skill of meditation.
The device has two main components: the first part is a piece of wearable technology, which uses 32 sensors on the head to monitor brain activity. The second crucial element is the Bio-Data feedback, where data is collected from the brain and presented back to the user in both visual and audio format.
04. Carolien Niebling - The Future Sausage
"Fun fact: the sausage is one of the first designed food items," says ECAL (École cantonale d'art de Lausanne) design graduate Carolien Niebling. Originally created as a solution to make the most of animal protein in a time when it was scarce, the sausage remains a cornerstone of our food culture. And Niebling is looking to the humble sausage once again to help us in a time of crisis.
"Now, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), we are facing a serious shortage of protein-rich-food. Meat, in particular, will be scarce. One reason for this is over-consumption: in today’s world, we simply consume too many animal products. So, I wondered, can we look to the sausage to provide a solution once again?"
After extensive research, Neibling has created a book, The Future Sausage (opens in new tab), which explores the sausage as an edible designed object, as well as its history, varieties and lesser-known ingredients that can be utilised in the future.