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Who we are


923273_10151648829522952_137260649_nZahira Asmal is founder and managing director of DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA. Asmal has worked with locally and globally celebrated designers and architects such as David Adjaye in London, where she contributed to his book on African Metropolitan Architecture and his exhibition, Urban Africa. She developed design institutions such as the Design Indaba in Cape Town and the ExperimentaDesign Biennale in Lisbon. Her recently launched book, Reflections & Opportunities: Design, Cities and the World Cup, published in English and Brazilian Portuguese, shares the design legacy and lessons learned in city making from the 2010 World Cup, with Brazil as they prepare for their mega events in 2014 and 2016. The book was launched over 15 events in Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and the UK. In June 2012, Asmal curated an exhibition, A NATION UNDER CONSTRUCTION for the International Architecture & Design Showcase organised by the British Council in London – South Africa’s first ever representation at the festival.

With DESIGNING_ZA, Asmal has had a number of successes, including being awarded a top spot on Design Week’s Hot 50 List. She was also included in Wallpaper* magazine’s Top 20 List (LINK pdf), Monocle Magazine’s Design Directory (LINK pdf), the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans and the Mail & Guardian’s Book of Women. She has presented globally on design led developments in South Africa and has given lectures at universities and design schools in Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Italy and the UK. In 2011, Asmal founded DESIGNING_BRAZIL, which she manages together with a team of design specialists in key cities in Brazil. It is also the beginning of a network based on creating synergies and knowledge- sharing opportunities between countries with similar socioeconomic conditions. Over the next few years Asmal envisions a string of these capsule organisations across the world, ultimately linking nations of the Global South.

“Design talent is a growing global currency. The countries that best support their creative communities, from architects to city visionaries, tend to be the best known and most visible. A developing nation like South Africa desperately needs designers, urban thinkers, economists, engineers, artists and planning specialists, not only to create suitable responses to social challenges but also to seek collaboratively to construct and create a better society.”- Zahira Asmal


D_ZA has sought out only the best local talent to serve on its Advisory board. These profoundly passionate individuals help craft our programmes, casting an expert set of eyes over the research and editing process. Theirs is a rich mix of expertise, experience and inspiration.

Guy Trangos

Guy-TrangiosGuy Trangos is a Johannesburg based architect working as a researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory. He completed his architecture studies at the University of the Witwatersrand in 2008 and has recently graduated with an MSc. in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has experience as a consultant and has been involved in a variety of projects from traditional architecture to exhibition design and urban research. His research is focussed on socio-spatial inequality, mobility and the politics of space making in the city.

Henning Rasmuss

Henning Rasmuss is an architect, author and co-editor of Between the Lines, a book about the construction process of Cape Town’s World Cup stadium. Henning was intimately involved with this project, as a director of Point Architects and Urban Designers. The massive undertaking had to accommodate 68 000 vuvuzela-blowing fans, in style.

Henning completed his architectural degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1994, before working in Düsseldorf, Berlin, and Hong Kong. Locally (and along with his professional commitments), he is also a member of sharpCITY. This is a research and exhibitions collective, which organises events on architecture and urban culture. Since 2000, seven of these exhibitions have been seen on an international stage.

In 2007, Henning was one of just eight nominees for the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Architecture.

D_ZA Supporters

DESIGNING_SOUTHAFRICA is pleased to have the kind support of these esteemed organisations: