With the visit of ico-D to the Design Institute, I have pondered the issue of history. The Design Institute has a long relationship with ico-D, in its former guise as Icograda – a relationship that spans many decades. The other reason I have been offering mind space to the concept of history is because this year the Design Institute will be 50 years old.

I believe that if you are looking for answers and solutions, the best place to look is at an organisation’s history. The Design Institute’s history goes back to the 1950’s – post World War II – when the notion of industrialisation and manufacturing became apparent and it was decided to promote them by establishing the Design Institute at the SABS in 1965. Looking back, there are hundreds of South African designed products that received local and global recognition through the Design Institute’s award schemes. This was one of the very first platforms where design was acknowledged in South Africa.

After the financial meltdown in 2008, the world realised that the dependence on the financial services sector would not take us any further. We are again back to recognising that manufacturing and exporting products are needed to grow the GDP and in the end, will lead to the desired economic growth.

I believe that the Design Institute is poised to help South Africa to grow its manufacturing sector and I will keep on driving this organisation with the philosophy that if design does not make an economic or social difference, it’s not worth pursuing.

Gavin Mageni, group manager of the Design Institute