Curatorial Statement

In the context of a global climate emergency, rising nationalism and the deepening divide between rich and poor alongside South Africa’s own emergencies of a stagnant economy, youth unemployment and rampant corruption, #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL aims to create a conscious space that gathers together a diverse range of people, who may not often or easily come together, to have the difficult and uncomfortable conversations about pressing local and global issues. 

One of these – the fourth industrial revolution – already fundamentally impacting on the way we live, work and interact with each other at micro and macro levels – is full of opportunities and dangers. According to Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, which was where the term was first touted in 2016, “The world has the potential to connect billions more people to digital networks, dramatically improve the efficiency of organisations and even manage assets in ways that can help regenerate the natural environment, potentially undoing the damage of previous industrial revolutions. However, organisations might be unable to adapt; governments could fail to employ and regulate new technologies to capture their benefits; shifting power will create important new security concerns; inequality may grow; and societies fragment”.

Three years later these words are already describing our current reality. But the value of this revolution is “within the control of all of us as long as we are able to collaborate across geographies, sectors and disciplines to grasp the opportunities it presents. In particular, Schwab calls for leaders and citizens to “together shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”

The #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL 2020 will provide us with a platform to create awareness of and showcase the application of innovation and design led approaches in various contexts that connects stakeholders, builds collaboration and solution seeking efforts and in so doing supports inclusive digital development.

This annual happening will be a stimulus that unlocks hope and inspiration; bolsters purpose; fuels action; and ignites change while building community, collaboration and partnerships – opening possibilities beyond the event itself. 

The thematic strands of the programme will be styled around a few big questions or hypotheses which are aimed at stimulating conversation and debates. The ‘unconference’ style of the Festival includes a variety of formats from plenary, breakaways, workshops, actions, film and music to encourage different levels of engagement.

It is in this spirit that we invite designers, thinkers, do-ers, visionaries and policy makers to the third edition of this collaborative public design festival. #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL-2020 will spotlight the ordinary everyday activities, host the necessary conversations and provide skills and information to build stronger and smarter communities that are able to participate fully in achieving an inclusive digital revolution.  

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An initiative of the Netherlands Consulate General in partnership with the Craft and Design Institute