Book Modernizing LEarn free to DEFSA Members

Download for free The future learning ecosystem–a holistic, lifelong, personalized learning paradigm–represents a contrast to the Industrial Age model of time-focused, one...

Mandela Rhodes Scholarship - post graduate study

DEFSA Member institutions - do you have an outstanding design student struggling to finance their post-graduate studies? Mandela Rhodes scholarships are open to young Africans...

Finland empowers educators to fight "fake news"

With democracies around the world threatened by an unstoppable onslaught of false information, Finland – recently rated Europe’s most resistant nation to fake news – takes the...


Hosted by University of Johannesburg & Inscape Education Group

The 16th DEFSA conference titled DE+AFRIKA+4IR+ (Design Education/Afrika/4th Industrial Revolution) will be streamed live on 5-7 October 2021 from UJ Arts Centre. This is the first virtual design education conference presented by DEFSA - free for all DEFSA Members.

Events - Free for all DEFSA members

Non-DEFSA member – R500 for the event
International Academic visitors: please contact us for sponsored seats.

  • 5 October: Online Cocktail evening with entertainment from 6 – 7pm
  • 6 and 7 October: Conference from 8:30am – 4pm
  • 7 October: DEFSA AGM during lunch. Private Zoom link - DEFSA members only

Conference Programme

The 2-day conference will open with a keynote address by renowned international scholar, Saki Mafundikwa - Visual Communicator, Design Educator, Author, Filmmaker, and Farmer. He currently leads workshops and lectures in universities throughout the world, helping designers create a new visual language by understanding their own culture.

He will be followed by 2 days of presentations by South African academics engaging with the theme of the conference. The papers span the design disciplines offered by a range of higher education institutions in South Africa.

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.

2013 DEFSA Conference

Design Cultures: Encultured Design

The 12th National DEFSA Conference took place in September 2013 and was hosted by Vaal University of Technology. 

“Design cultures” refers both to the communities of design, but also to the way in which design shapes community – “to design communities”.

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