What does it take to be labeled "world's best?" What kind of creature is Design Indaba really, superlatives aside. Even now in its teenage years, it is definitively a new and different breed.
The scale of the venue is obviously nowhere near Milan's all-dominant Salone de Mobile, but you do get a vibrant buzz throughout the city and the feel that the Capetonians are massively behind the Design Indaba initiative—and let's be frank, Milan's weather does not compare to Cape Town's. The Cape is just one of those exquisite destinations. The format of the conference itself is that of TED —back in the Monterey days. I had actually met with Chee Pearlman, Tim Brown and Melanie Griffith last TED to discuss how to reintroduce the D (for Design) in TED. The Design Indaba approach of covering a vast spectrum of design visions is an answer to that. The whole conference could very well be merged with TED's program—with a little extra time policing.
Design Indaba is further differentiated by not having an overarching theme. So the speakers are free to self-express rather than lecture.
The conference is fantastic and truly represents a new breed.