A group of 33 leading South African designers will present their new product ranges of small furniture, lighting, home textiles, and fashion and home accessories at a new exhibition in Cape Town this February.

The NEXT18 Trade Exhibition, taking place at the Homecoming Centre in the East City precinct of Cape Town from February 22 - 25, showcases the best of SA craft and design, ready to be ordered by local buyers and international importers, retailers and decorators. Attendance is free to all visitors.

The NEXT18 Trade Exhibition is part of the ´Development by Design´ programme, which enables small and medium businesses in South Africa to develop and grow. Over 50 entrepreneurs have been participating in this programme, taking their design studio, workshop or manufacturing company to the ‘next level’, and onwards to the export market. The project is an initiative of The Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), and their local partners, the Craft and Design Institute (CDI) and the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda).

The ´Development by Design´ programme focuses on the professional development of entrepreneurs, providing training and coaching to prepare them for entry into the European market. To put into practice the trainings and workshops, they participate in leading European trade fairs such as Maison & Objet in Paris and Ambiente in Frankfurt. The project also provides the opportunity to participate in South African trade fairs, such as 100% Design and SARCDA. The NEXT18 Trade Exhibition in Cape Town is a new initiative, and the first stand-alone event of the DbD programme.

The NEXT18 Trade Exhibition will coincide with the #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL, a new initiative of The Netherlands Consulate General, which will take place in venues around the East City. The festival aims to celebrate and examine the power of design to tackle current socio-economic and environmental challenges within an African context, and is being hosted in collaboration with the Craft and Design Institute (CDI) and Future Cape Town. The festival theme for 2018 is “Beyond the Crisis”.

Erica Elk, Executive Director of the CDI, said there is consensus in South Africa today that SMEs hold the solution to our intractable problems of a sluggish economy and high unemployment rates, and that partnerships are crucial to fast-tracking growth and economic inclusion.

“In most countries, SMEs play a vital role as drivers of economic growth, innovation and job creation, but, in South Africa, this value is yet to be properly realised. To achieve this, the challenges experienced by SMEs need to be addressed. In light of this, we are proud to be a partner on the ‘Development by Design’ project with CBI, as it is an incredible initiative to develop and support some of South Africa’s brightest design stars to grow and enter international markets.”

According to Irene Vermeulen of the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), one of the key aspects of the ´Development by Design´ programme is the content that places an emphasis on sustainability, not only in the business sense, but also socially and environmentally. This ‘triple bottom line’ approach is especially relevant in developing countries where social cohesion and environmental challenges exist.

“One of the main aims of the programme is to build a more conscious business culture, with the concomitant improvement in working conditions and environmental stewardship. By exposing these small and medium businesses to these global best practices, it not only maximises their chances in the export market, but also has a positive ripple effect on the local business landscape.”

“This innovative approach has not only created tangible results – an average of 56% increase in export sales (from 2016 – 2017 to EU/EFTA markets) – but also co-creation and collaboration between the participating entrepreneurs. Most of the creative entrepreneurs on our programme are women (60%), and 52 percent of their staff are women.”

With a focus on the latest international design trends, whilst retaining their integrity of provenance, the companies’ new product ranges include bags made of intricately woven recycled rubber tyre tubing by Morspendant lamps made of interlocking patterns of bamboo and wood veneer by Minima, and jacquard woven textiles in bold colours and patterns by African Jacquard. In order to really stand out with their own design ‘signatures’ the entrepreneurs drew inspiration from their African roots, translating traditional design language into a contemporary design vernacular. The paper sleeves, bags and wallets by The Wren are made of natural materials and therefore have a reduced environmental footprint, whilst the handmade felt accessories by Heartfelt take social aspects into account, providing decent work and income for women in a remote rural community. John Vogel’s furniture has handwoven panels, which are manufactured in their Cape Town factory, employing more than 50 skilled people.

The NEXT18 Trade Exhibition will take place from February 22 – 25 daily at the Homecoming Centre (15A Buitenkant Street) from 10am – 6pm in the East City of Cape Town. For more visit: www.thecdi.org.za/next18

To find out more about the #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL, visit the website: http://cocreatesa.nl/cocreatedesign-festival-2018/

More on the CBI

The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) is part of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and is commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. CBI’s mission is to contribute to sustainable economic development in developing countries through the expansion of exports from these countries.

CBI focuses on the link between producing exporters and European buyers. The centre contributes to the sustainable strengthening of the competitive position of exporters, assisting them in trading in the European market, thereby positively contributing to poverty reduction and alleviation.

CBI’s Export Coaching Programme in South Africa focuses on exporters in the home decoration, home textiles, and small furniture sectors. The market entry phase of the project, titled ´Development by Design´, started in 2013.