Design Indaba conference

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Overview of Design Indaba Conference

Design Indaba Conference has grown, since its inception in 1995, to become one of the leading design conferences in the world, with more than 3,757 delegates and 40 speakers. The conference’s primary focus is to gather the world’s thought leaders to South Africa. The Design Indaba conference has contributed R1.7 billion to the country’s GDP during the period 2009-2014. The conference also generated over R201.9 million in various business orders during the year 2014.


Design Indaba was created to empower and inspire talent in people to fashion a brighter future using creativity and design. The inspiration for its creation was due to the overwhelming confidence in the country’s “post-1994 future” with a foresight that “the creative shall inherit the earth”. The conference was first held in 1995 with the aim to improve the position of design as a fundamental aspect in communication, a dynamic tool in commerce and industry, a business imperative, and a driving need for investment in the area of intellectual capital.
The conference has contributed greatly to the country’s economy over the past decade. During the last seven years, Design Indaba Festival provided South Africa’s GDP with over R2.1 billion. The conference has contributed R1.7 billion during the period 2009-2014 to the country’s GDP with over R201.9 million in business orders during a single year (2014).
The number of conference delegates increased tremendously over the years from the initial launch of the conference. According to Design Indaba’s 2014 Investors report, there were 1300 delegates during the year 2004, 2,996 delegates in 2013, and 3,757 delegates in 2014.
The editors of Creative Review and ICON magazine have claimed the event to be “the best design conference in the world”. The director of Dutch Design Week, Hans Robertus, has also claimed the conference to be “the best event of the year!”.

Number of Speakers

The conference hosts over 40 speakers on average. For the current year, 2018, there are 35 speakers who will be speaking over three days of the conference. Some speakers who are scheduled to speak at the conference this year are Aleksandra Gosiewski from Fashion Institute of Technology, Tomo Kihara from TU Delft, Israel Ogundare from the University of Johannesburg, and Shaakira Jassat from Design Academy Eindhoven. The names of all the speakers and their area of expertise can be found here.

Core Offering

Design Indaba provides a multifaceted platform for people to interact with some of the world’s best in the field of design. The platform brings together international creative heavyweights to impart knowledge and provide inspiration to those who are seeking it. The activities of the conference are curated independently with a primary focus on “ingenious problem solving” and case studies, instead of the usual portfolios.
Apart from the design talks series by design and creative world leaders, the conference also provides people with immense experience and exposure to theater, product launches, surprise guest appearances, live music, fashion shows, and dance, proving that Design Indaba is more than just a conference and has been called “The Conference on Creativity”.
To improve the accessibility of the conference, Design Indaba Simulcast has been introduced to broadcast the conference live to students, emerging designers, and professionals, at specific locations around the country, at a reasonable rate.


The following are the pricing details for 2018 Design Indaba Conference,
1. Individual tickets are priced at R8,300.00 for the entire three-day conference, R3,220.00 for a single day, and R6,440.00 for a two-day ticket.
— Premium Directory discount (5%) is provided at R7,880.00
— Early Bird (10%) costs R7,470.00
2. Group bookings are priced at R7,880.00 for 5-10 people, R7,470.00 for 11-25 people, and R7,050.00 for 26+ people.
3. Simulcast rates are as follows,
— Cape Town normal ticket is priced at R1,680.00
— Cape Town student ticket is priced at R1,520.00
— Johannesburg and other cities, normal ticket is priced at R1,080.00
— Johannesburg and other cities, student ticket is priced at R 975.00
— Johannesburg and other cities, group of 20+ students is priced at R 920.00
— One day ticket is priced at R 400.00

Size of the Audience and YoY Growth

The conference has seen drastic growth over the years. According to the Design Indaba 2014 report, the Y-o-Y growth rate can be expressed in terms of the number of visitors. There were a recorded 8000 visitors during the year 2004, which increased tremendously to 34,080 in 2013 and further to 40,967 in 2014. Please note that Design Indaba’s 2014 report is the most recent and most detailed report available online.
The visitors of the conference come from 224 countries, including South Africa. Since their primary audience is South Africa, over 40% of the total audience is made up of South Africans. The other 60% of the audience consists of United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands, India, Canada, Germany, France, Australia, Brazil, and other countries.

Sources of Funding

Design Indaba Conference is funded mainly through sponsorship, partnerships and the sale of tickets. Their sponsorship architecture is divided into seven tires consisting of main sponsors (tier 1), development partners (tier 2), suppliers (tier 3), creative agency (tier 4), media partners (tier 5), associates (tier 6), and media supporters (tier 7).
In 2014, the sponsorship for the conference was generated through main sponsors (R2 million), development partners (R1.5 million), suppliers (R1 million), media partners (R750,000), and associates (R250,000).
The major sponsors and partners of the 2018 Design Indaba conference are Woolworths, Mercedes-Benz, Liberty, Business Insider South Africa, and Department of Arts and Culture (Republic of South Africa).


To wrap up, Design Indaba Conference brings together the world’s best creative leaders to South Africa ever since its inception in 1995. The conference has grown significantly over the past two decades while contributing tremendously towards the country’s GDP. It has added over R1.7 billion to South Africa’s GDP during the period 2009-2014.

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