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For a whole year, design lovers can get their fix of the latest local homeware, fashion and accessories by some of SA’s top talents in an innovative new online exhibition
WORDS AND PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Entrance is free and visitors are treated to a digital walkabout to browse the latest ranges by 23 prominent local designers. The annual NEXT trade exhibition is an export development initiative of the Craft + Design Institute (CDI), a South African non-profit company that has successfully developed creative people, small businesses and the craft and design sector at large over the past two decades. This is its first ever digital expo, launched with the support of the City of Cape Town.
In previous years the trade exhibition was a week-long affair. Importers, retailers and decorators would head to the Mother City to explore the South African product showcase featuring the latest furniture, lighting, textiles and homeware. This year, the pandemic has demanded a whole new setup – and it’s one that will bring local designers to a wider, global audience. The 23 designers and businesses taking part represent the best of local craft and design and include well-established brands as well as rising stars. They have all received coaching through the CDI’s export development programme, which has supported more than 70 businesses since its inception and resulted in an average increase of 50% in export sales to European countries from 2016 to 2018.
The most recent two events drew dozens of international trade buyers from countries such as Denmark, France, Sweden, Italy and the US. But now there are fewer barriers to entry for international trade and an even greater number of international buyers – and media entities don’t have to leave the comfort of their home to explore the latest crafts from SA. What’s more, the extended time frame will make it easier for buyers to view the latest products over the coming months.
“Last year the CDI seamlessly converted its training and development modules into effective online tools,” says CDI group CEO Erica Elk. “We’re therefore confident that NEXT’s change in format from a real-time event to a virtual offering will benefit the exhibitors in many ways, the most pertinent being the dramatic increase in potential reach. We’re now able to accommodate many more interested parties from many more territories than ever before.”
The designers exhibiting at NEXT21
- Africa Ignite
- African Jacquard
- Amelia Jackson Industries
- Barrydale Hand Weavers
- Bili BraWear
- Chic Fusion
- Ckho Ceramique
- Cotton Tree
- Design Afrika
- Eco Design Furniture
- Head On Design
- Macassar Pottery
- Modern Gesture
- Mors Design
- Ozzy Eco Decor
- Saks Corner
- Studio Stirling
- Unique Driftwood Creations
- Zizamele Ceramics
“The most pertinent advantage is the dramatic increase in potential reach” Erika Elk, CEO, Craft + Design Institute
James Vos, City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, says it’s heartening to see how the City’s strategic business partners have pivoted their operations to adapt to the “next normal” – and the CDI NEXT21 online initiative is a prime example. “Design and innovation are vital for Cape Town’s economic recovery after Covid-19 and we’ll do our part to support the sector,” he says. “The City of Cape Town not only offers financial support to the CDI, we have also collaborated on other programmes in support of the craft and design sector. This partnership has delivered many successes including the training of SMEs, product expansion, international exports of locally made South African products and skills development.” The exhibition went live on March 25. To browse the products, visit thecdi.org.za/next21.
SOURCE: First Published on Everything Property