Using the lens of circular design, the intention of this exhibition is to empower us all to co-create a better future. True innovation is about improved systems, materials and technologies that benefit both people and planet. Our preoccupation with beauty and newness is standing in the way of design becoming more sustainable, relevant, and useful.


We need to prioritise design-thinking, over design-doing.

And we need to design for purpose, not surplus.

These are some ideas to get us started.

Curated by

Anja Joubert

Bielle Bellingham

Stand designed and constructed by

Cameron Barnes


House & Leisure


Scamp Design



In light of global resource challenges and waste accumulation, there’s opportunities to adopt innovative approaches. Circular design stands out as a vital concept, considering a product's entire lifecycle. By prioritising durability and ease of repair or disassembly, we pave the way for perpetual use, eliminating waste altogether. This shift opens doors to exciting innovations—from sustainable materials to new business models—that propel us towards a more sustainable future.

The report includes:

End-of-life business (EOL)
This concept refers to the point in a product lifecycle when it’s reached the end of useful existence and is waste. Consider the transformation that could occur if waste was viewed as an additional resource and income stream for both companies and individuals alike.

Sustainable Building
Startups within the construction industry, known for its considerable environmental footprint, are looking for solutions by embracing innovative processes that reduce its CO2 emissions.

Alternative materials
The exploration of new materials derived from waste or inspired by nature into biomaterial alternatives can solve a lot of issues as well as create new aesthetics.

Elevated waste
The up-cycling of discarded products is not a novel concept. The range of products being utilised is getting more creative with seemingly endless possibilities.

Food Redesign
While preventing food waste is the ultimate goal, finding ways to extend the food’s lifespan and repurpose its waste offers fresh opportunities.

Who to know
The circular design movement is gaining traction in South Africa, fuelled by a surge of investment and hopefully more exploration into untapped economic opportunities. Here, we spotlight some dynamic change-makers driving progress in this space.

Design is an attitude of resourcefulness and inventiveness which allows all projects to be seen not in isolation, but in relationship with the needs of the individual and the community.

László Moholy-Nagy

No design exists in isolation; every design has social, ecological, and environmental consequences that must be evaluated and discussed collectively. Design can either support or hinder sustainability. It needs to address the urgent challenges of our era. Designers, manufacturers, retailers, and consumers must all consider the ultimate impact of our decisions. This means balancing profits, convenience, and production with environmental and social responsibility.


Apathy is no longer tolerable.

Design is ‘not a profession, but an attitude’. Designers need to play a crucial role in shaping a better future. Our influence extends beyond aesthetics and functionality, it includes social, environmental, and economic impacts.

Championing Sustainability
Designers can lead the charge in adopting sustainable practices by choosing eco-friendly materials, minimising waste, and optimising energy use. We can design products and spaces that have a minimal environmental footprint and promote a circular economy.

Innovating for Change
Through creativity and innovation, designers can develop solutions that address global challenges such as climate change, resource scarcity, and social inequality. This includes creating products that are durable, repairable, and recyclable, as well as systems that enhance the well-being of communities.

Human-Centred Design
By prioritising human needs and experiences, designers can create solutions that improve quality of life. This involves designing with empathy, considering diverse perspectives, and ensuring accessibility and inclusivity in all design processes.

Community Engagement
Designers can act as facilitators and mediators for community involvement, making sure that design processes are inclusive. By engaging with communities, we can co-create solutions that are relevant, effective, and supported by those who will use and benefit from them.

Promoting Ethical Practices
Ethical considerations should guide every design decision. Designers can advocate for fair labour practices, transparency in supply chains, and products that are safe and healthy for users and the environment.

Integrating Technology Thoughtfully
Designers can use digital technologies to improve sustainability and functionality. This includes using digital tracking to monitor the lifecycle of materials and using virtual prototyping to reduce waste.

Educating and Advocating
Designers have the platform to educate clients, stakeholders, and the broader public about the importance of sustainable and ethical design. By advocating for responsible practices, we can influence broader industry standards and consumer behaviour.

Imagining a Better Future
Designers also have the unique ability to speculate and prototype future scenarios. By imagining and creating aspirational designs that reflect a sustainable, equitable, and joyful future, we can inspire change and set new standards for what is possible.


Thanks to its aptitude for analysis, visualisation, communication and lateral thinking, design is well-placed to be a catalyst for change.

Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical in the truest sense. It must dedicate itself to nature’s principle of least effort, in other words, maximum diversity with minimum inventory…or doing the most with the least. This means consuming less, using things longer, and being frugal about recycling materials

Victor Papanek


In the last six years, we have extracted more natural resources than in the entire 20th century. We’re taking resources from our children’s future, selling them today, and calling it “GDP growth”.

The circular economy aims to redefine “growth” by focusing on positive, society-wide benefits. It’s about decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model aims to build economic, natural, and social capital.


Creating Closed-Loop Systems
Materials should be reused and recycled continuously, mimicking natural ecosystems where waste from one process becomes input for another, reducing the reliance on virgin resources.

Regenerative Resources
We need to use renewable resources instead of finite ones, ensuring that materials are replenished naturally. This includes using biodegradable materials and promoting practices like sustainable agriculture and forestry.

Product as a Service
Shifting from ownership to access models, such as leasing or renting, encourages manufacturers to produce higher-quality, longer-lasting products and retain responsibility for their lifecycle.

Local and Resilient Economies
Promoting local production and consumption reduces transportation emissions and strengthens community resilience. Localising supply chains can also make economies more robust against global disruptions.

Advanced Recycling Technologies
Investing in advanced recycling technologies can enable more efficient material recovery and upcycling, transforming waste into high-quality resources.

Policy and Collaboration
Effective implementation of the circular economy requires supportive policies and collaboration across industries, governments, academia and communities. This can and will drive systemic change and innovation.

Imagine a building like a tree, a city like a forest.” -Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

William McDonough and Michael Braungart


Regenerative design goes beyond sustainability, aiming not just to minimise harm, but to produce a positive impact on the environment and society. It is about restoring, renewing, and revitalising sources of energy and materials.

It is about considering the entire lifecycle of a product or system, from raw material extraction to disposal.

The goal is to create solutions that improve environmental and social conditions, contributing to the well-being of all stakeholders, while building flexibility into designs to adapt to changing conditions and future challenges.

Great design is a human right.

Michael Murphy


The primary goal of Circular design is to keep materials and products in use for as long as possible, extracting their maximum value and reducing the need for new resources.

The 21st century must be backed by creativity and buttressed by social and emotional intelligence, for only in these areas can people in the digital age continue to decisively influence the course of civilisation

Dr Gerald Best


Design for Disassembly is an approach that prioritises creating products, buildings, and components that can be easily taken apart at the end of their useful life, allowing materials to be reused, recycled, or safely disposed of.

Ease of Disassembly
*Fasteners and Joints
Use screws, bolts, and other reversible fasteners instead of adhesives and welds.

*Modular Design
Design components to be easily separable and interchangeable.

Material Selection
*Alternative materials
The exploration of new materials derived from waste or inspired by nature into biomaterial alternatives can solve a lot of issues as well as create new aesthetics.

*Recyclable Materials
Prioritise materials that can be recycled or upcycled.

*Non-Toxic Materials
Avoid materials that can harm the environment or human health.

*Uniform Components

Use standard sizes and parts to simplify repair and replacement.

*Interchangeable Parts
Design parts that can be used across different products.

Documentation and Labelling
*Clear Instructions
Provide detailed guidelines for disassembly and recycling.

*Material Identification
Label materials to facilitate sorting and recycling.


Reusable Components

Ensure parts can be repurposed in new products or contexts.

Design products that can be modified or upgraded for different uses.

Take-back Programs
Implement systems for returning products for refurbishment and reuse.


Minimal Waste

Optimise designs to reduce material waste during manufacturing.

Energy Efficiency
Consider energy consumption in both production and product use.

Sustainable Materials
Prioritise renewable, recycled, and low-impact materials.

There are constant advances in plant-based and biomaterial alternatives, shifting away from petroleum based plastics and animal leathers. Seaweed is one of these stand out materials with a projected $11.8 billion market growth by 2030. In South Africa, with its seaweed rich diversity this presents a lot of opportunity.

2024 Future Materials Report


Biological Cycle

We need to create products that can safely biodegrade or compost. Biological Cycle pertains to designing products that can safely return to the environment after use. These products are made from organic materials that can decompose naturally and harmlessly.

Technical Cycle
Design products for continuous recovery and reuse of materials without loss of quality.

Lifecycle Perspective

Consider the entire lifecycle of a product from raw material extraction to end-of-life.

Ecosystem Integration
Understand how products interact with and impact broader systems, including supply chains and disposal networks.

Collaborative Innovation
Work with stakeholders to create holistic solutions that benefit the entire system.

Nature doesn’t have a design problem. People do.

"Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things" by William McDonough and Michael Braungart.


Digital Tracking

Use technology to track materials and components throughout their lifecycle.

Smart Design
Integrate IoT and digital technologies to optimise product performance and lifespan.

Virtual Prototyping
Employ digital tools to design and test products before physical production, reducing waste.

Humanise Technology
Ensure technology enhances human experiences and well-being, making interactions intuitive and meaningful.

3D printing is democratising manufacturing in the regenerative design industry by making production more accessible, affordable, and customisable. It allows designers and small businesses to create complex, sustainable products locally, reducing the need for mass production and long supply chains. By enabling on-demand manufacturing, 3D printing minimises waste and encourages the use of recycled and eco-friendly materials. This technology also drives innovation, as designers can rapidly prototype and iterate their ideas, promoting a circular economy where products are designed for reuse, repair, and recycling.


Emotional Durability

Create products that foster a strong emotional connection with users, encouraging longer use.

Allow for customisation to meet individual preferences and needs.

Narrative and Storytelling
Include meaningful stories and heritage into designs to create user attachment.


Scalable Solutions

Develop designs that can be scaled up or down to meet changing needs.

Flexible Use
Ensure that products can be adapted for various purposes and user scenarios.

Modular Systems
Create systems that allow for easy additions or the removal of components to extend the functionality and lifespan.



Embrace a New Aesthetic

Redefine beauty to focus on sustainability.

Good Design Takes Durability into Account
This includes the concepts behind projects, and the longevity of materials.

Waste is a Valuable Resource
Use technology and craftsmanship to upcycle and innovate.


Embrace a New Aesthetic

●      Redefine beauty to focus on sustainability by choosing natural, renewable materials such as bamboo, reclaimed wood, and recycled metal. Look for products with eco-friendly certifications.

●      Prioritise simplicity and functionality by opting for minimalist designs that reduce clutter and focus on essential, high-quality items that last longer.

Good Design Takes Durability into Account

●      Invest in long-lasting materials by selecting flooring, countertops, and furniture made from durable materials like stone, hardwood, and metal, which can withstand wear and tear.

●      Consider timeless design by avoiding trendy styles that quickly go out of fashion. Instead, choose classic designs that remain appealing over time.

Waste is a Valuable Resource

●      Upcycle and repurpose by giving new life to old furniture and household items by repurposing them. Turn an old door into a dining table or use reclaimed wood for shelves.

●      Get creative with do-it-yourself projects that reuse materials you already have. For example, create planters from old containers or make art from scrap materials.



Innovative solutions that tap into the circular economy can enhance consumer experience. They also present potential additional revenue streams that could future proof your business.


Examine your supply chains closely, viewing waste as a resource rather than a burden. Explore creative ways to repurpose this waste, experimenting with various end-use possibilities.


Build relationships with reputable businesses, brands, and studios well-versed in this field. When seeking scalable solutions, carefully consider any unintended consequences.

Sustainable Building
At 37%, the construction and building sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally. This carbon-intensive process requires very high heat, historically produced by burning fossil fuels.

Key Factors Contributing to Emissions:

Cement Production

Cement, a crucial component in concrete, is responsible for about 8% of global CO2 emissions. The production process involves heating limestone to high temperatures, releasing CO2 both from the combustion of fossil fuels and the chemical transformation of limestone (calcination).

Energy Consumption
Construction activities consume vast amounts of energy, not only in the manufacturing of materials like steel and cement but also in the operation of machinery and transport of materials to construction sites. This energy is predominantly derived from fossil fuels, contributing significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Material Extraction and Processing
Extracting raw materials such as sand, gravel, and other aggregates is energy-intensive and environmentally disruptive. Processing these materials further contributes to emissions and environmental degradation.


Solutions and Innovations in Sustainable Building

Modular and Prefabricated Construction
Modular and prefabricated construction methods can reduce waste, improve efficiency, and lower the environmental impact by controlling construction processes in factory settings.

Innovative Materials
The use of innovative materials like cross-laminated timber (CLT), recycled steel, and low-carbon concrete can significantly reduce the environmental impact of buildings. These materials often have lower embodied energy and carbon footprints.

Green Building Certifications
Green building certifications provide frameworks and standards for design, construction, and operation. These certifications assess and recognise buildings that meet high standards of energy efficiency, resource conservation, and healthy indoor environments. They encourage the use of sustainable materials, water-saving technologies, and renewable energy sources, as well as the integration of designs that enhance natural light and ventilation.

Energy Efficiency
Incorporating energy-efficient systems, such as advanced HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, high-performance insulation, and smart building technologies, can greatly reduce operational emissions​.

Renewable Energy Integration
Integrating renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, into building designs can offset energy consumption and reduce reliance on fossil fuels​.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Using life cycle assessment tools helps in understanding the environmental impact of building materials and processes from cradle to grave. This can guide decision-making towards more sustainable options​.

Minimise the amount of resources and materials used in the first place.

Use items multiple times or find new ways to utilise them, extending their life cycle.

Process used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials.

Avoid purchasing or using products that are not environmentally friendly or necessary.

Fix items instead of discarding them, maintaining their usability and extending their lifespan.

Consider and redesign processes, products, and consumption habits to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.