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Design advice that applies to everyone

One of the privileges of working for Design Indaba is the invaluable exposure to thought leadership and creative brilliance, often on a daily basis. In a conversation or interview situation with a leader in the design industry, it’s hard to resist the question – what is your advice to aspiring designers?

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Thanks for Nothing

This week Known Gallery presents Thanks for Nothing, an exhibition featuring new works by American artists Judith Supine and Alia Shawkat, and curated by Naheed Simjee.

One of my favourite contemporary US artists, Supine’s cigarette box works are reminiscent of the Surrealist movement’s “exquisite corpse” – and like the name elicit imagery like death, BDSM and other fetishisms.

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Things I have learned in my life so far

Keeping a diary supports personal development.” - Stefan Sagmeister

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The Sex and Cash Theory

In Hugh MacLeod’s book How to be Creative (downloadable as a PDF here), he talks about the Sex and Cash Theory.

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Belgium street artist Roa has taken over London’s East End with his massive black-and-white murals of animals, hand-painted on walls of derelict buildings. Starting his work in the quaint cobbled streets of his hometown of Ghent in Belgium, his work now decorates buildings all over Europe and in New York. This year he held his solo debut exhibition at Pure Evil Gallery in London, including original works on A4 paper, locker doors and even street works in the area.

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I recently heard about the Pan African Space Station from the guy working in Cape Town’s raddest little record store, Mabu Vinyl. He was playing some wacky ‘70s electric jazz by the American jazz legend Chick Corea (look him up), which got me stuck in the store and chatting to this guy as he was mixing. The ‘guy’ in question turned out to be one of Pan African Space Station’s DJs, and none other than the notorious DJ Mighty (above and below). Already sold on his music taste, I had to follow it up and find out more, and this is what it’s all about.

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One of the outcomes of South Africa hosting that global sports tournament that shall not be named is the sudden surge in international stars popping up all over SA – all, no doubt, with their eyes on their share of the money-pie. From the UK’s Fatboy Slim claiming to be the official DJ of the WC to the Columbian Shakira heading the official anthem, pillage is indeed in the air. One aspect that I’m more than happy to waive, however, was the recent Masters of Rock tour. When else, in this country, would you be able to see, live, in the flesh, some of the original pioneers of heavy metal and rock music as we know it today?

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Photoshop ad or photoshopping play? Check out Madonna’s new day cream.


I love this website, The Cool Hunter. You always find the raddest stuff there. Check this out. It’s another manic advertising campaign, this time by Fiat for the Fiat 500 C. The launch of the car happened in February this year, and the beginning of this month saw the cars appear in Milan’s high-fashion street, Montenapoleone, in an unexpected role. Twenty fiberglass replicas of the car, identical in shape and size, have been positioned along the street as… tree planters. They’ll be there livening up the city until 30 September 2009.

The event has been named “Per fare un albero” (Create a tree), and is a cooperative effort between the City of Milan, Fiat, and artist-designer Fabio Novembre. In Novembre’s words, his solution to merge into one object trees and cars, two elements always vying for urban space, is a “symbol of a new way of living.”

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I recently interviewed Ron English for the latest issue of one small seed, on his ‘Art of Popaganda’ that attacks monopolisers of public space (corporates, government) who use deception to sell. Sometimes we call it propaganda. Sometimes we call it advertising. Call it what you will. Ron English draws attention to this blatant, shameless manipulation that perpetuates modern society in his artform called ‘subvertisements’.

In these, Ron takes existing ads, brands, even political campaigns, and creates spoofs out of them. MacDonalds is predictably one of the principal targets of his attack, along with Camel, US government, religion and war. With the former two he picks on the health factor, focussing specifically on the way in which they’re aimed at young people, usually children.

Some examples of these can be seen below:

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Yes, yes, I know Windows Vista has become the bane of everyone’s existence and a lot of people put Microsoft up (down?) there with Saddam, Malema, Maccy Dees (well, I definitely speak for myself on this one) and The Devil Himself, but… I still kinda like their latest print ad campaign. Something cute and squishy about it. Almost makes you forgive them for all those system error messages…

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Some great new ads by JWT Frankfurt for ‘extra volume’ Priorin shampoo.

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This is a really smart advertising campaign by TBWA/Hunt Lascaris for a small Zimbabwean newspaper (The Zimbabwean). Quipped ‘The World’s first Trillion Dollar advertising campaign’, it draws on that oft-repeated gibe that it’s cheaper to use Zim dollars as toilet paper these days. I saw the ad recently on a billboard at JHB airport and it really is an ad printed on money that has been carefully woven together like tapestry.

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Highraff (Rafael Calazans) is a Brazilian artist who has been painting on the streets for many years. His first exposure to painting was graffiti. He was recently invited to create an important work at the Latin American Memorial in Sao Paulo and has exhibited at galleries such as Grafiteria in Sao Paulo and Jonathan Levine Gallery in New York. Last year he travelled in Europe painting the streets in France, Spain and Belgium.

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