Art Meets Science At Africa’s First STEAM Symposium

Art Meets Science At Africa’s First STEAM Symposium



OPEN Design Cape Town, the Mother City’s most dynamic design and innovation festival, is set to host Africa’s first international STEAM Symposium when the festival returns this August. STEAM is a global movement that adds the creativity and vision of Art and Design thinking to the traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects.

The 12-day citywide festival will again bring together an extended community of thinkers, designers, entrepreneurs, educators, students and members of the public for a series of exciting experiences, talks, workshops, exhibitions and more. Open Design Cape Town, now in its fifth year, aims to illustrate and explore how creative solutions and sustainable design can benefit South Africa’s economy and society.

Open Design Cape Town 2017 will take place between 13-20 August at Cape Town City Hall and at various locations throughout the city as part of the City Wide Activation programme from 21 – 25 August. The STEAM Symposium will be held at City Hall on Monday 14 August. 

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STEAM, a concept championed by the Rhode Island School of Design in the US under its STEM to STEAM motto, has three broad pillars. First, to transform research policy to place Art and Design at the centre of STEM learning. Second, to encourage the integration of Art and Design thinking into education across all learning areas, from kindergarten to graduate degree level. Third, to influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation and add significance and meaning to their businesses

Professor Mugendi K. M’Rithaa, originally from Kenya, an industrial designer and researcher at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, President of the World Design Organization and one of the speakers at the Symposium, says future global citizens will need a strong educational foundation underpinned by a creative and practical knowledge of the STEAM subjects.

“Proficiency in STEAM not only guarantees competence in a wide range of professional disciplines, but also fosters an appreciation for lifelong learning as well as a transdisciplinary and collaborative ethos in young learners,” he says.

Among the other contributors at the symposium are:

  • Kristóf Fenyvesi, a STEAM researcher at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland
  • Abbas Jamie, director of innovation in Africa at engineering firm Aurecon
  • Richard Perez, the founding director of the UCT School of Design Thinking
  • Marco Rosa, managing director at Formula D.

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Suné Stassen, co-founder and festival and programmme director of Open Design, says the symposium will explore how value gets added when Art and Design are integrated with STEM subjects, and how this will help lay the foundation for, and develop a new generation of problem solvers, change makers and successful African social entrepreneurs.

“This is going to be an exciting event for anyone who believes it is possible to design a greater future for our country and continent. The programme is specially designed to not only include a focus on education, but also includes a wide array of industry experts who will testify how the integration of creative and design thinking skills leapfrogged their business into another dimension,” says Stassen.

“In order to empower all our children with much needed 21st century skills we urgently need real systemic change. We need to redesign our education system so that the youth and future generations can confidently participate in, and add value to the economy and our society at large”.

Times and Dates

Tickets for the Open Design International STEAM Symposium on Monday 14 August are on sale via at an early-bird special of R895 until 15 July.  Thereafter tickets will cost R1055. The symposium will be held at the main auditorium of the Cape Town City Hall on Darling Street between 10am to 4pm.

Follow Open Design Cape Town on Twitter and Instagram @OpendesignCT and on Facebook at

Use the hashtag #ODCT2017 to help spread the word.
For more information and to view the speaker line-up visit

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