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 DEFSA 2015 conference honoured a principle-driven, civic-minded and human-centred design culture that considers sustainability, credibility, corporate social responsibility, professional accountability and personal integrity.

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.

2007 DEFSA Conference

FLUX: Design Education in a Changing World

DEFSA's 9th National and 5th International Conference was hosted by Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and held in October 2007. It was endorsed by Icograda.

The conference brought together theorists, researchers, and practitioners in the fields of design and design education to share ideas and experiences in design education in an international context. Given the position of South Africa in the developing world, a particular sub-theme was Design for/and Development.

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.

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.

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. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (