MIDA (made in democratic Africa) takes its name from the Frigia emperor who used to convert to gold everything he would touch. We quoted this anecdote to refer to the power of design – when it is not just veneer or look – to change the way we look at things, to convert prejudices and to let things surprise us again. In different ways, and not only under the design point of view, Italy and South Africa are living analogous situations. The burden of their histories for example, the question of integration, and of course the bias over their national expression: Italy on one side seems to have consumed all its creative power celebrated in the last century; South Africa, on the other side, gives the impression to be in a substantial moment of bargaining with its identity. This is the reason why I thought of letting these two cultures meet each other and work on the same themes, where Italian designers can bring their fresh new contributions and South Africans can tell their multiple visions and try together to find new meanings of originality, nationality, diversity and exchange in terms of design.
The trans-disciplinary workshop will take place in the Faculty of Informatics and Design at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Cape Town Campus from 19 to 23 May 2014, and it will end with a double exhibition, with one chapter in Cape Town, and one in Milan next autumn.
Three Italian design teams will meet the students of the interior, surface and industrial design departments of the CPUT and they will work for one week around the theme of Object and Symbol: a contemporary African aesthetic. Odoardo Fioravanti (www.fioravanti.eu), Resign (www.resign.it), Peter Bottazzi e Denise Bonapace (www.denisebonapace.com) will meet 60 students and members from three local project: Chisana Tours (www.chisana.co.za); Langa Quarter (www.langaquarter.co.za) and
the young brand “Born free SA” (www.bornfreesa.com) which refers to young members born after 1994. Each of these projects will aim at bridging the gap between local and global, African and international, individual and social. We will work to produce physical objects which have to do with a domestic landscape and which can be brought and exported abroad.
The entire workshop is financed by the Italian company Alessi (www.alessi.com) which every year follows a workshop in strategic locations over the world, this year on the the occasion of the World Design Capital 2014, the Mida project was born.
Chiara Alessi (1981) is an independent editor and curator. She regularly collaborates with “Domusweb” and “Interni” and she has a blog on the Italian newspaper “Il Fatto Quotidiano” online, about design and society. Born in the tradition of one of the famous Italian Design Factories, in her career she had the opportunity to meet and interview many of the most important designers of the new generation.
She looked after a number of publications for the publisher Electa and Corraini Editore. Her last book “Dopo gli anni Zero. Il nuovo design Italiano” (Laterza Edizioni) is a wide critical survey of the new Italian design. She works among Milan and Cape Town. www.chiaraalessi.com
Monica Di Ruvo is an interior designer, lecturing in the Architectural Technology and Interior Design department at the CPUT and co-ordinating the workshop with Avril Dahl (Informatics and Design Theory), Elna Lubbe (Surface Design) and Johan Van Niekerk (Industrial Design).
Andrea Couvert is the local coordinator of the MIDA Project; passionate about participatory design and social entrepreneurship, Andrea is the founder and managing director of the communication agency Slowdesign.
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