World Design Capital 2014 Judges Visit Montebello

World Capital Design Bid 2014

Montebello Design Centre hosted the WDC Judges who visited Cape Town this week as part of their technical visits to the three shortlisted cities.  Judges Dilki de Silva and Martin Darbyshire arrived in a Joule accompanied by the CEO of Optimal Energy who was able to brief them about this elegant electric car.


The visit to Montebello was part of a busy schedule to expose Dilki and Martin to the ways that Cape Town lives up to its campaign promise “Live Design. Transform Life”.


Tessa Graaff, the Director of the Centre, and Philip Todres of Cape Town Green Map, based at Montebello, met the judges.  A marimba band set the tone while showing off the instruments made by African Ethos in their atmospheric workshop.


The visit highlighted how Montebello Design Centre plays an important role as a switchboard to connect people, even in the remotest areas of southern Africa, into the design economy.  Designing work to cut down on commuting and work –from- home opportunities was another issue that was showcased.  Recycling and sustainability were also paramount concerns when designing programmes and products.

World Design Capital Bid Judges visit Montebello and home of the Green Map

This presentation was done in the David Krut Gallery – originally a cow shed.  David Krut Publishing, internationally recognised in the fine art arena, also champions design literature.  Their Graphic Design book was published as the start of a series to create South African reference works on design. 


Tessa spoke about Product Orange or PROD – an outreach initiative into fragile communities along the Orange River.  Using an international expert on intellectual property law, agreements were entered into that saw individual artists and communities receiving royalty payments for the use of their designs that were incorporated into textiles and jewellery.  Another product development uses ostrich egg shells incorporated into nifty key rings that are being snapped up in the market place. 


Philip introduced Anna and Lawrence of Beloved Beads and they explained how traditional bead weaving skills were combined with hi-tech design to create a range of exquisite jewellery.  This business, established in 2009, has already had international exposure; their work included in an exhibition at the SA National Gallery; and exports half their production.  Dilki was happy to model a stunning bracelet and Bulelwa succumbed to a striking necklace.


A bold red bag from Mielie’s range caught the judge’s eye too.  Woven from waste fabric, the bags created by Mielie have developed a loyal buying public.  The working-from- home ethos and taking traditional skills to new heights through design was again emphasised by Adri of Mielie.


Designer Roelf Mulder, a Trustee at Montebello explained why the bicycle, that in a gallery setting looked like a sculpture, was an ingenious transport solution that would be included in an exhibition at the prestigious Cooper Hewitt Design Museum in New York.


A brief walk about introduced the Judges to the Kama Music Archive, where Aaron is working with Larry to produce a CD as part of an initiative to create community role models.  Larry had come onto the programme while in prison.  The living sculpture workshop (using alien woods and wood off cuts); the Harvard science meets design workshop taking place; the Mielie shop; the Montebello Craft shop; and the glamorous jewellery studio designed within a stable all contributed to the unique Montebello narrative.


Nicholas at The Forge struck two special medals to present to the judges, who after their 45 minute visit were taken away by Green Cabs to get to their next site visit.

The Green Cab at Montebello