Creative entrepreneurs find it harder than most to be taken seriously.

Many creatives are also guilty of not recognising themselves as business people who make a valuable contribution to the economy and to society – and being respected and paid as well as people in other professions.  Indeed, the cultural and creative industries contribute R90bn to South Africa's GDP, which is not insignificant.

2017 DEFSA Conference


Design educators reflect on the call for the decolonisation of education.

The 2017 National DEFSA conference is hosted by Tshwane University of Technology & Inscape Education Group and will take place from 27 - 29 September 2017 at Freedom Park, City of Tshwane.



The calls by South African students for decolonised education have been emphatically professed, loud and clear. As design educators, we need to interrogate our role in decolonising design education.

Our Key speaker is Ghanaian-born George Sefa Dei, a renowned educator, researcher and writer who is considered by many as one of Canada’s foremost scholars on race and anti-racism studies.

Don't miss our workshop!

Creative Outputs, Research Outputs and Practice-Led Masters and Doctorates in Design: a strategic round-table. The focus of the workshop is on Fashion and Interior Design, however the workshop and its outcomes apply to all fields of design. The workshop will contribute to defining how any design discipline can approach Postgraduate qualifications that adopt Creative Outputs, Research Outputs and Practice-Led approaches to further studies, assessment and funding.

Academics are trying to rid South Africa’s universities of the procedures, values, norms, practices, thinking, beliefs and choices that mark anything non-European and not white as inferior. Professor of English Language Teaching and Literacy Development, Rhodes University discusses the issue.


The theme of the 2017 DEFSA Conference is "Decolonise!". As educators select their research topics, this website will be publishing various perspectives and opinions to initiate discussions and ideas. If you have an appropriate "blog post" or article for this website, please contact

Lesley Le Grange
Distinguished Professor of Curriculum Studies, Stellenbosch University

The following is an open letter from Professors Victor Margolin and Ezio Manzini urging all designers to act and respond to the crisis affecting democracy.

The letter invites designers to consider and discuss opportunities in their own practices for enhancing processes of democratization. To be transformative, social innovation has to consider the direction of the desired transformation.

Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education at The University of Nottingham

This three part series by Pat Thomson, Professor of Education in the School of Education at The University of Nottingham in the UK makes interesting reading for Peer Reviewers. Please note that the opinions and reviewing style of the author may not represent DEFSA's peer review process.

Design school prepares you for a career in the real world of design, and helps you create a design portfolio. But it can't teach you everything.

With that in mind, we've talked to some successful creative professionals and gleaned what they wished they knew when they were studying design.

Submitted by: Fred Deakin, Professor at University of the Arts London.

It's a confusing time to be a young creative. We are in the middle of the biggest cultural and technological revolution in centuries, and anyone who tells you they know what the digital world will look like in six months, let alone six years, is a liar.

Source: Adele Thomas, University of Johannesburg

Academic plagiarism is no longer just sloppy “cut and paste” jobs or students cribbing large chunks of an assignment from a friend’s earlier essay on the same topic. These days, students can simply visit any of a number of  paper or essay mills that litter the internet and buy a completed assignment to present as their own.

Source: Suné Stassen, Creative Director: Rock City Foundation

You don’t have to want to become a designer to study design. Maybe you’re thinking about becoming an engineer, an architect, a teacher, a musician, a writer, an economist…

Source: Suné Stassen, Creative Director: Rock City Foundation

Choosing a Design course at a Tertiary Institution will be influenced by factors aside from the course content they are interested in - such as availability, affordability and proximity.

Source: Suné Stassen, Creative Director: Rock City Foundation

Design is a wide field spanning different industries and disciplines. In South Africa, some sectors of Design are well developed, while others are emerging. Increasingly, South African Design is taking its place on the international stage, and there is exciting potential being developed all the time. Design has also been introduced as a high school subject, and while curricula have been thoughtfully devised, it will still take some time for the subject to mature.

Industrial designers work to improve the function, value and aesthetics of products like iPods, cars, guitars, and even telephones. The industrial designers aren’t usually tasked with coming up with the overall design or something complex like a car, but they may be in charge of impacting the technical aspects of the overall design by considering the usability and aesthetics of the design.

Christopher Cashdollar's pro tips will get you thinking beyond the pixel and on a path towards long-term professional relevance.

Design 'talent' can only advance your career so far. If you want to be more than just a flash in the pan, you need to diversify your skills and evolve beyond just slinging the hottest pixels. If longevity is an important aspect of your web design career, start preparing to expand your talents.

Source: Design Institute of Australia

If you’re thinking of a career as a professional designer, there are some important things you need to know before making your decision.

Good news

The good news is that design – in all its many fields – can deliver great challenges, give you an outlet for your creative drive, and provide you with the satisfaction of seeing tangible results from your working life. ‘Look! I designed that!’

There’s nothing like the buzz of creativity, especially when it’s your own.

Doug Bartow, and his colleagues at id29 share 29 things they think all new designers need to know.

Throughout the years, I’ve collected these questions and have tried answering many of them as an ongoing personal project. Here are 29 of my thoughts on how to approach and interact with our culture as a young designer, in no particular order.

Folding bike helmets, smoke alarms that send you text messages and a syringe that remains colourless when stored in its sterile pack, but changes colour when opened.are among the innovative solutions that make up the Design Museum's Designs of the Year shortlist, announced on Monday.

Source: Design Institute of SA

There is a rapidly growing awareness of the need for designers in South Africa. Therefore career opportunities are increasing in number and variety. Complement your latent talent and qualification with initiative, enterprise, enthusiasm, commitment and perseverance, and the sky is the limit.

What is an Academic Paper?

The most important characteristic of an academic or scholarly paper is that it has to pass an academic quality assessment before it can be published in an academic journal (the DEFSA website is an authorised ePublication). Before an article is accepted for publication, it has to be reviewed by researchers working in the same field (referees). This control process is called peer-reviewing and is designed to guarantee the academic standard of an article.

2009 DEFSA Conference

Theme: "Opening gates, between and beyond design disciplines"

The 12th National DEFSA conference was hosted by the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa (DEFSA) and co-hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).


DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers

Design Educators of South Africa...

With your support & active membership, the Design Educators Forum of Southern Africa can positively influence the young designer's formative training and promote all facets of design across Africa