Guest edited by Richard Hart and designed by Disturbance, Where It's At is the first in a series of limited editions inspired by the now defunct Design Indaba magazine. Billed as a survey of SA creativity, the magazine, entitled Where It's At, consists of 84 text pages, 28 gatefold posters and a cover that folds out as a colourfully large map of Africa. According to Design Indaba, it has come to realise that other people's voices – and more specifically, Design Indaba alumni – are far more interesting than their own. Future projects could be produced as DVDs, a documentary, a coffee table book or a poster collection. A veritable manual to South African design, Where It’s At features articles that include:
• An overview of the South African creative community, including a directory of key players and an overview of prevailing trends
• A series of profiles of emerging designers as nominated by established industry leaders • Conversations between leading South Africa creatives who have taken their talents to the world stage
• Opinions on Africa from international design commentators including Julie Lasky and Lynda Relph-Knight
• Proposals from leading South African designers on creating a better Africa.
In addition to this compilation of intriguing reading material, Hart also commissioned 28 South African artists and designers to create posters that are included within the pages of the publication. Each two-colour, gatefold poster adds a tangible, illustrative quality to the ideas and debates under discussion.
The publication’s dust cover is an intricate full-colour, folded design which opens up to reveal a map of Africa. Where It’s At is an important publication as it serves to take stock of where South African design is at today. We spoke to Hart about the project:
Enjin: Why publish the magazine?
Richard Hart: Well, firstly the intention was for it to be something more than a magazine...not quite a book but not quite a mag either (Ravi [Naidoo, founder of Interactive Africa, the organisers of Design Indaba] calls it a mook. I'm partial to boogazine!) so it is immediate, it's about the moment and therefore has the periodical nature of a mag – while perhaps being bookish in its presentation and its ambition. Secondly, I think it's important because it makes a very earnest (though subjective and highly debatable) attempt at documenting the state of design in SA right now.
E: How did you decide who to feature? How did you decide on the content and design?
RH: That's where the subjective bit comes in...I covered friends, people who interest me. I wanted something deeper than the usual glossy design mag shtick where smoke is ceremoniously blown up the arses of all the usual suspects. So I was pretty blatant in finding some angles and stories that interested me personally and that hopefully gave a refreshingly skewed take on things...Although representative too, I hope.
E: How do you see the role of SA design in a global context? Can a publication like this help get the word out?
RH: The publishers [Design Indaba] imagine South Africa as becoming a world design hub. Being to creativity what India is to call centers. I'm a bit more circumspect. But what I'm hugely encouraged by in the last few years is our collective sense of self worth and self confidence. It seems we are increasingly happy with ourselves as an audience – and I think ultimately that becomes quite sexy to the rest of the world. Which I think is a healthy place to be.
E: How long did the project take?
RH: Two very long months.
E: Tell us more about the printing.
RH: The dust jacket is a huge, full colour die cut-map of Africa that folds down. Very lavish. By contrast the inside is all printed in two colours – black and a spot grey. I wanted it to go against the grain of conventional design publishing which is slick and glossy. The paper was intended to be a cheap and cheerful 'cartridge' type stock – but it actually turned out to be pretty pricey and, eventually, a compromise had to be made. We finally printed it on coated paper which, ironically, printed way nicer than the cartridge paper would have.
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