Sep 14, 2011
Zelda Harrison

What makes a World Design Capital? Part 2

What does it look when Design is part of your City’s Urban Fabric?
Capitalising on craft and design in Cape Town, South Africa.

Editor’s note: since this article was written, the City of Cape Town has won designation as World Capital Design® (WDC) 2014 by The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid). This was announced on the closing day of the International Design Alliance Congress in Taipei.

Cape Town is the fourth city to hold this biennial appointment after Helsinki, Finland, WDC 2013. XCD also covered the activities of a previous WDC nominee, Turino. We will be following Cape Town’s progress in making Design Matter to Cape Townians and the CT Creative Community.

In this sequel to our series, XCD covers the Cape Town’s Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI). CCDI partnerned with a number of South African organisations for the 2014 WDC designation and is immensely proud that Cape Town was shortlisted along with Dublin and Bilbao.

CCDI talks to XCD about their efforts galvanising Cape Town creatives and the support they received in creating The Fringe, a hub zoned specifically for the creative community.

XCD asks: is promoting a creative class a viable tool for local economic development?

With Cape Town’s shortlisting there is much excitement among the design professionals and creative industries in this beautiful city on the southern tip of Africa.

Located on the eastern sector of Cape Town, the innovation hub called The Fringe houses a number of creative businesses, namely its anchor tenant, the Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI). CCDI was established ten years ago by the provincial government and the local university of technology with the mission of developing and nuturing profitable enterprises, with marketable products for the global marketplace.

The CCDI has expanded rapidly from about 63 craft producers in its database, to over 2000. Many are small and micro enterprises that provide significant opportunities, notably for people in disadvantaged communities, who may not be able to access jobs in the formal economy. There are also established designers who, with the support of the CCDI, are accessing overseas markets through top lifestyle trade shows.

The CCDI has been based at 75 Harrington Street in the Fringe for five years, where it occupies three floors, as well as its recently opened Creative Enterprise Training Unit round the corner at 37 Barrack Street. We believe this demonstrates just how effective design and craft can be in helping to support entrepreneurship, generate income, build human capital and self-esteem and bring together divided communities.

Craft producers and designer makers from throughout Cape Town – from the disadvantaged township suburbs to leafy environs – gather in its Training Unit to take part in business skills and creativity workshops. Its Product Support Space is a hub of experimentation, where everyone from design students to established producers has the appropriate support, infrastructure, tools and equipment to bring their ideas to reality. The monthly craft sector meeting, held every first Wednesday in the Training Unit, attracts increasing numbers of craft producers and designer makers who gather to share ideas and be inspired by some of the city’s leading artists and designers.

A highlight of the year is having a piece selected for the annual CCDI Handmade Collection – showcasing the brightest and best of Western Cape Province handmade products – which launches every February at the iconic Design Indaba Expo. Craft producers also showcase and sell their unique pieces at co-operative shops under the CCDI banner at high-end trade and consumer lifestyle shows.

In the past year The Fringe has blossomed around the CCDI, as everyone from fashion to furniture designers has moved into the precinct, attracted by the increasing cleanliness and security of the inner city, relatively cheap rentals and the energy and buzz of being part of a dynamic creative network. The Cape Town Fashion Council, for example, sub-lets space from the CCDI, and has been involved in exciting collaborations such as introducing student designers to craft producers in order for them to collaborate on accessories for the major Cape Town Fashion Week.

The CCDI is proud to be part of The Fringe, and is helping to spread the word and encourage networking by carrying, in every issue of its monthly newsletter, two stories on the burgeoning small businesses and established enterprises in this vibrant hub. These range from art galleries to fashion and web designers, as well as the small cafes and coffee shops that have opened to cater for them. To read more, see:

CCDI contacts:
Website: |

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