Open Design Afrika festival – to be streamed live from the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa, October 2020

When: October 27-31, 2020 Platform: Tickets: No charge, however booking is essential to receive the event link  

Registration is open for the 2020 edition of Open Design Afrika. The five-day festival is going out live on a virtual platform from the iconic V&A Waterfront- a vital cultural and lifestyle hub of Cape Town. As of going to press, October 8, 2020, there will be one pop-up in-person event and that will be The Family Maker Day workshops on Saturday October 31 at the V&A Waterfront at Workshop17, from 9.30am. Get your creative juices flowing with the little ones as they design their own dream machine or learn about the environment and remoulding plastics with Captain FanPlastic.  No charge. Registration for Family Makers Day will open to the public on Monday October 12. Check back to TheCapeRobyn, for updates and event details.  

Some of the local speakers will be filmed at sites in the Waterfront which will provide an aesthetic and ambience to the presentations. This is a design festival, and every effort is being made to present speakers in interesting spaces. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic and national lockdown in South Africa, people will not be able to sit down and watch at the Waterfront. The talks, workshops, networking, film screenings and other events are taking place online. If you stroll at the Waterfront, look out for the festival logo and various ODA lounges where the 5-day production will stream from, and get a sense of the buzz that the event is bringing to the city. Cape Town as port city is the gateway to Africa.

Open Design Afrika is very much about positioning our continent as a gateway to design that is impactful, creates change and adds value. Harnessing the exponential growth of the digital highway, during Covid-19, team Open Design Afrika has put together a festival to not only celebrate design on the continent but act as an incubator for innovation and ideas, as we navigate our way through the pandemic and then are ready to embrace every opportunity when restrictions fall away – whenever that may be.

The person that has made this festival happen is Executive Director, Suné Stassen. She co-founded the festival in 2013 and is known as a design and cultural activist for good reason. Core to her vision for the 2020 festival is access. There is no charge to register and mindful of data costs, Stassen has put in place free Wi-Fi hubs in under-resourced communities in Cape Town and on the continent, with partners such as TooMuchWifi, Stellenbosch Academy in Cape Town, KNUST in Ghana and in collaboration with Ambitious Africa who will live stream the festival to different countries across Africa.

Stassen is fully behind making design democratic for all and that is evident at this festival. The programme is stunning and includes speakers like Julie Taymor – the American director, writer and designer of theatre opera and film. Yeah, she is THE Lion King designer. She is epic and you can hear her speak at Open Design Afrika 2020- at no charge.

Most other design events in Cape Town charge entrance rates which make it prohibitive for the average person to attend. In the past, before Covid, digitals feeds – or simulcasts as they were termed – tended to be largely passive- with minimum participation. The pandemic has shaken up digital streaming and opened up channels for active participation. The festival is harnessing technology in the programme for Open Design Afrika 2020. For example, after each session, there is the opportunity to sign up for “virtual coffee chats” and “mingle” with the speaker/s, other festival goers and ask questions. Registration is essential. More info to follow. Check back to TheCapeRobyn and check in on the festival social media platforms:

Open Design Afrika 2020 links:

  • Website:
  • Facebook:
  • Instagram: @opendesignafrika
  • Twitter: @opendesignaf
  • YouTube: Open Design Afrika

Info from the festival:

small is MASSIVE!

Open Design Afrika calls on Afrikans and the world to action small seeds of change everywhere! 

In a world characterised by transition, change and adaptation, the role of design should never be understated. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and vast changes in everyday life, Open Design Afrika (ODA) is stepping up to the challenge through presenting its 8th annual, and first fully virtual festival. 

Recommitting to its mission to focus on humanity and celebrate the power of design and creativity that effect systemic change, increase Afrikan value and pride and ignite and unlock new Afrikan ideas and solutions, the festival, which takes place from 27 to 31 October could not be more timely. Built on the axes of thriving and resilient communities, relevant education and appropriate innovation & technology that adds significance and true meaning, the 2020 festival programme is a diverse mix of Afrikan and global stories, networking, interactive sessions and workshops. Driven by a collaborative and holistic ethos, and a free-to-access model, the festival promises an open and inclusive environment to showcase and celebrate Design champions, unsung heroes, change makers and the power and potential of Afrika through creativity and design-led innovation that improves lives and our environments. 

Designing a thriving future world for all

Since 2013, Founder and Executive Director of Open Design Afrika Suné Stassen has driven the programme with an optimistic, mindful, solutions-driven an inclusive approach. As the visionary behind the new-established virtual platform, she explains the ODA value in the following way:

“We have for years succeeded in engineering an unjust and often destructive world for living in. We believe that in solidarity we have the capacity and the ability to design the exact opposite but then we have to shift our priorities to develop relevant future skills and creative intelligence. We must invest wisely in appropriate human capital that’s underpinned by empathy and emotional intelligence, agility, resourcefulness, holistic and critical thinking, future skills that’s optimised and underpinned by creativity. To succeed in the future, it will be imperative to invest equally in humanity and technology. This balance will be crucial for humanity, our planet and circular economies to flourish in. The time is now to write the most important design brief since our existence: we need to design and develop new world orders and strategies for inclusive and appropriate education, systems, services, flourishing environments, prosperous circular economies and human cities so that we can collectively design our preferred futures and deliver on the demands of the future with purpose and agility. If we collectively action small seeds of change everywhere then small suddenly becomes MASSIVE!”

Free and inclusive access for all

Sponsored by National Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the V&A Waterfront, purpose and agility sit at the heart of this year’s festival. “The V&A Waterfront’s aim is to provide a platform that can facilitate and champion art and design, support entrepreneurship and innovation, lead the charge of sustainability and drive social and economic change. Companies who work with and engage with communities and respect the environment are more productive while remaining humane. We are proud of our association with Open Design Afrika. The partnership allows us to equip future problem-solvers and change-makers with the skills they need to become tomorrow’s business leaders.”- says CEO of the V&A Waterfront, David Green

According to The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, the Open Design Afrika festival is one that drives the promise of critical change. “We see this as an important, indeed urgent intervention into our world. The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture is fully aware of the challenges of our current world and equally the potential that can be unlocked through collaborative platforms such as these. We are encouraged to see that Open Design Afrika is taking a hands-on approach to building a South Africa we can all be proud of.”  

While the Open Design Afrika Virtual Festival will be live streamed from the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, access for a global and local audience will be entirely virtual. In addition to adhering to COVID19 safety protocols and to still create accessibility also to marginalized communities who have always been a vital audience to include, ODA has negotiated with a few partners like TooMuchWifi, Stellenbosch Academy in Cape Town and KNUST in Ghana as well as a few others in Afrika, to set up strong Wi-Fi locations in different communities. In line with a focus on a multi-level, truly convivial programme, these measures aim to ensure that a number of people from marginalized communities can still be fully integrated and engaged in the discussions and workshops. This is a small but important start to help democratize participation, knowledge sharing, networking and collaboration, which is a significant move away from global trends which alienate poorer communities from design and design events especially for those who under current circumstances can’t afford mobile data or Wi-Fi.

What’s on offer: Thinking, designing, touching lives, sharing, action! 

Despite being a digital offering, the ODA 2020 programme will be as robust as in previous years. 3

The series of dialogues, workshops and virtual coffee networking sessions will bring together a global audience with inspirators and creatives from across the Afrikan continent and the world. The festival program is geared towards ODA’s “pledge to design a better world” and promise participants critical and insightful discussions and take-aways about the present, the future, and the disruption, hacking, skills and resources required to bridge them.

In addition to these exciting and valuable discussions and networking opportunities, participants will also have the opportunity to get (virtually) hands-on through a series of demonstrations, workshops, and DIY elements at the Family Makers Day. This part of the programme strongly emphasises collective learning through playing and doing.  Utilising hands-on making, tech and games, this is intended to be a creative makers experience to change mindsets, develop new insights and future skills, for the whole family in the comfort of their homes. A few makers experiences will also be hosted at the V&A Waterfront at Workshop17 for families who want to attend. Makers experiences are important building blocks to develop future skills and to ignite design-led innovation that can drive the design of future Afrikan cities and lifeworlds. 

“Investing in the integration of creativity across all curricula will strike a much-needed balance in developing the whole brain. It is not only crucial to create conducive, playful and inclusive learning environments but also to develop creative and emotional intelligence, nurture critical thinking and problem seeking and solving capabilities, design thinking and other future skills; doing so is imperative to unlock and optimise new potential in all children, change mindsets and behaviour, which will empower and enable them to develop new aspirations to design their preferred futures,” says Stassen.

General access tickets for Open Design Afrika 2020 are free. Participants can register for each event on the ODA website. Registration is open –October 2020.  

Promoted post. Image supplied.