Who we are

Since 1969, the SABS Design Institute has been dedicated to human-centered design, which has the potential to stimulate growth in South Africa’s manufacturing industry. Focusing on the country’s design capabilities, it has become an agent for change and facilitated valuable socio-economic development. The Institute translates research & development and invention into sustainable economic opportunities, while creating a general awareness of design.

The Design Institute is a part of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), a statutory body and science council functioning in accordance with the South African Standards Act, 2008 (Act No. 29 of 2008). The Institute is governed by the SABS Board whose Chairperson and members are appointed by the Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The SABS Design Institute has been a promotional member of International Council of Societies of Industrial Designers (ICSID) since 1972. It has recently become a promotional member of International Council of Design Associations (ICOGRADA). The SABS Design Institute is based in Pretoria, South Africa.

What we do

The SABS Design Institute serves as the primary public advocate and facilitator for South African designers. Committed to unlocking the country’s potential through innovative design, the Design Institute supports the realisation of new ideas. Its targeted design interventions, including design support and capacity building, have aided the establishment of the sustainable enterprises which spark socio-economic growth.

The Design Institute believes that South Africa needs a functional national design system to respond to national challenges like high unemployment, poverty and inequality. Addressing the existing gap in innovation, the Institute focusses on the bridging capacity of design.

Our Process

The SABS Design Institute aims to establish human-centered, sustainable design processes as a critical element of the national design system by:

  • Facilitating design support through programmes which act as a catalyst for the development of businesses and entrepreneurs;
  • Nurturing a new generation of designers by supporting traditional education and offering a variety of design-related training courses for entrepreneurs;
  • Promoting awareness of the benefits of design with the public through exhibitions, awards, conferences, seminars and publications.