The Politics of Design

Taking a broad definition of design and drawing on the shared histories and legacies of settler colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, The Politics of...

Inscape’s receives SACAP unconditional continued validation

Inscape, the first private higher education institution to be validated by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). The South African Council for the...

The importance of handouts

When students listen in lectures, often they are taking part in the discussion, thinking what they want to say, and often simply distracted by their environment for a few minutes...

2021 DEFSA Conference: DE+AFRIKA+4IR+

Hosted by University of Johannesburg & Inscape Education Group

The 16th DEFSA Conference was hosted by the University of Johannesburg and Inscape Education Group from 5 to 7 October 2021. The conference was the first virtual conference hosted by DEFSA. The theme of the conference: DE+AFRIKA+4IR+: DESIGN EDUCATION/ AFRIKA/4TH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, challenged design academics to self-reflection and explore forward-thinking approaches by addressing the past, present, and future of design education while considering the fourth industrial revolution in the context of Afrikan scholarship.

Over the two days of the conference, the 36 papers were presented, representing 11 public and private higher education institutions that offer design education in South Africa and Kenya.

2019 DEFSA Conference

Designed Futures

Design educators interrogating the future of design knowledge, research and education.

ISBN 978-1-990930-81-2 

The 15th National and 8th International DEFSA Conference was hosted by the IIE Vega School and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology from the 9-10 September 2019 on the Vega campus in Cape Town South Africa. The broad theme of the conference addressed DESIGNED FUTURES: Design educators interrogating the future of design knowledge, research and education.

2017 DEFSA Conference


The 14th National DEFSA Conference was hosted by Tshwane University of Technology and Inscape Education Group at Freedom Park Pretoria from 27 to 29 September 2017. Design educators reflected on the call for the decolonisation of education,and  challenged design academics and postgraduate students to scrutinise their educational practice in relation to calls for the decolonisation of higher education. A record of 64 abstracts were submitted, of which 40 were accepted.

2015 DEFSA Conference

Ethics & Accountability in Design:
do they matter?

The 13th National and 7th International DEFSA Conference was held in September 2015 and was hosted jointly by Midrand Graduate Institute &  Vaal University of Technology

The aim of the DEFSA 2015 conference was to honour and grow an emerging principle-driven, civic minded and human-centred design culture that takes issues of the sustainability, credibility, corporate social responsibility, professional accountability and personal integrity to heart. The typical worldview rhetoric of what should be done is redirected towards individuated responses and actions that foster meaningful change.

2011 DEFSA Conference

20/20 Design Vision

The 11th National (and the 6th International) DEFSA conference was titled 20/20 Design Vision. A total of 23 papers were presented over a two-day period, addressing a range of topics that were pertinent to the conference theme. Of these papers 22 papers were accepted for publication in the conference proceedings.

In 2011, the Forum celebrated its 20th anniversary and in so doing, marked an important milestone in its reflection on design education from the past, present as well as visions for the future.

2009 DEFSA Conference

Opening gates, between and beyond design disciplines

The 10th National DEFSA conference was hosted by the Design Education Forum of Southern Africa (DEFSA) and co-hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).

The event was held in collaboration with the 2009 International Mohair Summit. DEFSA encouraged speakers to investigate and debate the manner in which boundaries between design industry, government, community and design disciplines could be addressed within the conference theme.

2007 DEFSA Conference

FLUX: Design Education in a Changing World

DEFSA's 9th National and 5th International Conference was held in Cape Town, South Africa between the 3rd and 5th of October 2007 and was endorsed by Icograda. The Cape Peninsula University of Technology hosted this year's conference. 

2006 DEFSA Conference

Redesigning Design Education

The 8th National DEFSA Conference considered academic papers with regard to restructuring and rethinking the design education landscape, and revisiting the educational responsibility of design education

The Conference took place in September 2006, and was hosted by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth

2005 DEFSA Conference

Design Education in a creative economy

The 7th National DEFSA Conference took place in September 2005 at the South African Reserve Bank Conference Centre, Pretoria. The line-up of speakers represented education, business and government sectors.

The Reserve Bank served as an apt backdrop for conference theme - Design Education in a Creative Economy.

  • design innovation as an important factor in economic development,
  • design as a cognitive activity and the importance of acknowledging design as an academic subject
  • the powerful collaborations that are possible between design education and business.

2004 DEFSA Conference

Design, Research and Development

The 6th National Design Education Forum of Southern Africa (DEFSA) 2004 conference was hosted by the Design Institute of South Africa, a division of the SABS. 

The 2004 DEFSA Conference broke away from the traditional approach of design educators talking to one another. The focus was on strategic stakeholders talking to educators about their requirements and views on design leadership and clients of design.

2001 DEFSA Conference

Mapping new Territories in Design Education

The 5th National and 4th International DEFSA conference was hosted in 2001 by a group of Gauteng Education Institutions: Technikon Pretoria, Technikon Witwatersrand, University of Pretoria and Vaal Triangle Technikon as part of the first National South African Design Week.

The Fourth International Conference investigated the boundaries and interface between disciplines within the conference theme.

2000 DEFSA Conference

"Reshaping South Africa by Design"

The 4th National DEFSA Conference took place in February 2000. For the first time, a large number of individuals from different sectors came together to forge links and develop strategies for promoting design and design education, to the ultimate benefit of South African society.

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 Education Forum of Southern Africa can positively influence the young designer's formative training and promote all facets of design across Africa