The Cape Craft and Design Institute (CCDI), an organisation created to develop skilled crafters and designers, hosted the Make It New exhibition at the end of 2014. The CCDI is supported by the Department of Arts and Culture, the Department of Trade and Industries, the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund and the Western Cape Government.
The spectacular coastal landscape of the Western Cape, the perpetual sounds of the sea, the rush of the wind, the complexity of the city, our diverse heritage and identities, the busy harbour, and the elements of nature – sea, light, animals, shells and fynbos – provides a contemporary living context for Make It New, an exhibition showcasing significant objects produced in the Western Cape.
Make It New explores relationships and connections across time. This starts with an exploration of how traces of our indigenous pasts and our global connections have shaped innovation and transformation; processes such as communication, the settlements of people, and the legacies of sea travel that marks the Cape as part of a network of ports have formed a locale for making beautiful things. Over 100 images from the Western Cape Museums’ archives and objects from antiquity and tradition are counterpoised with contemporary design objects, linking functionality, material or making methods. From the earliest human settlement, tool creation and body adornment, visitors will move through time to the finely crafted furniture and ceramics, and innovation found in the repurposing of materials.
The exhibition, featuring the work of over 160 designers and craft producers from all over the Western Cape, leads visitors on to a striking showcase of contemporary items, exploring local design sensibility, and through the disruptive layout and product selection it will prompt reflection on the nature of the Western Cape’s current design handwriting and the fusion – or not – of cultures and influences.
This contemporary showcase also explores how the Cape’s creative producers of today demonstrate design thinking, innovation and problem solving in a variety of ways, and how they are re-visiting the long established in a totally new way and making it new.
Make It New was part of a flagship project of World Design Capital (WDC) Cape Town 2014 titled Makers + Thinkers – see. learn. do.
The Make It New exhibition, which ran successfully at the Cape Town Stadium from 15 to 19 October 2014, has become the CCDI’s largest exhibition to date, drawing in over 7 000 visitors in its short run. As a free to the public exhibition, it provided an opportunity for all Capetonians and visitors to the city to explore our rich craft and design heritage as well as the many beautiful and innovative contemporary designs emanating from creative individuals and businesses across the province. The exhibition not only educated visitors about local craft and design through seeing and learning, but also aimed to inspire some of them to do. It also served as a wonderful shop window for the local craft producers and designers who are featured as part of the exhibition.
Due to the phenomenal success of the exhibition over the five days, work began immediately to secure a second run for Make It New.
After negotiations with the V&A Waterfront, prime space was secured at the newly launched V&A Watershed, the new home of African craft and design in the city.
After substantial work, the exhibition opened for a five week run from 30 October until 7 December. It proved an even greater success, drawing in an average of 4 500 visitors each week. In total, across both venues, Make It New has been visited by over 29 000 people.