Are you the future of South Africa’s design industry? The Design Indaba Emerging Creatives Programme aims to unearth fresh new talent across a multitude of sectors. A chosen group of fifty young architects, fashion designers, illustrators, furniture designers, jewellers, graphic designers, filmmakers and multi-disciplinary mavericks from across South Africa will showcase their work at the Design Indaba Festival taking place in Cape Town at the Artscape Theatre Centre from 26-28 February next year – and you could be one of them. Applications for the Class of 2020 are now open via:

The Design Indaba’s longstanding and much-lauded Emerging Creatives Programme, founded in 2005, has helped launch celebrated and vibrant young designers such as Laduma Ngxokolo, Katherine-Mary Pichulik, Neo Mahlangu and Andile Dyalvane. The exciting programme acts as a career accelerator for its participants – identified as South Africa’s future generation of designers – by providing an exhibition platform, support, education and mentorship.

If you’re selected as an Emerging Creative, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity also includes attending the Design Indaba Simulcast, participating in a workshop, as well as networking at the prestigious Design Indaba social events, in addition to dedicated exhibition space at the event. Participants receive return flights to Cape Town, accommodation for the duration of Design Indaba Festival 2020, a profile on and a year of prolonged national and international media exposure including online video, web articles and social media posts.

“What the programme did and is still doing for my business I could have never imagined,” says rising fashion designer Abongile Gwele of Apples & Oranges, who was part of the 2016 Emerging Creatives programme and has since gone on to collaborate with ex-Rhythm City actress turned producer Nolo Phiri on her clothing line.

All of this is supported by the Design Indaba in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture. Design Indaba founded the platform to help young creatives who have relatively little industry exposure. The programme was established because of a strong belief in nurturing this new creative talent and knocking down the barriers to entry for those just getting started.

The programme provides the opportunity to be inspired by the best designers in the world and the selected participants will get to meet leaders in the local and international design industry. Emerging Creatives will have their work shown to both local and prominent international media – not to mention thousands of members of the public!

Moreover, the programme is not merely a once-off opportunity, but an ongoing network of support and exposure that continues beyond the festival. According to Festival Manager Bev Cupido: “Our mission is to commit to Emerging Creatives not only for the year of their participation but beyond. Once welcomed into our family, it’s not just about showcasing work at the festival but evolves into collaboration opportunities and more. Design Indaba comes from a place of love, a platform used as an incubator, an accelerator and a way to turbocharge a career.”

For the 2019 festival, past Emerging Creatives participants were commissioned to help bring the festival to life. Graphic designer Daniel Ting Chong (Class of 2008) created the campaign for the overall event, Thabo Makheta (Class of 2013) and Russel Abrahams (Class of 2014) co-curated the Emerging Creatives programme; Tshepo Makholo (Class of 2016) was a Global Graduate speaker at the Design Indaba Conference and became a member of the Design Indaba Projects team in May 2019; and Leah Bessa (Class of 2016) presented a Masterclass as part of the conference line-up. What’s more, for the last three years, Design Indaba has commissioned its 2014 alumni, Kim and Natalie Ellis, to produce the conference delegate bags. Other alumni, such as Crystal Birch (Class of 2006), Ditiro Mashigo (Class of 2017), Laduma Ngxokolo of MaXhosa (Class of 2011) and Maria Uys (Class of 2015) all took up space in the retail offering at the festival.

A world of exciting, career-enhancing opportunities awaits those who are selected to participate. Apply to become a Design Indaba Emerging Creative Class of 2020. Visit for more information on how to submit your entry. Submissions close on 30 October 2019.

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