By: Sam Malaki
Posted: Feb 15th, 2020

Welcome to the Design Kenya Society (DKS) family.

Design is a practice of planning and creating things. It’s a diverse practice that encompasses the creation of products, services, interactions, visual environments, infrastructure and technology among others. Globally, design is shaping and affecting lives based on how it is appreciated and consumed. At Design Kenya Society we aspire to promote best practices in the design profession by strengthening and promoting the potential of Kenya design professionals so that they can develop a unified voice to influence public policy and develop the design industry.

Design Kenya Society is an all-inclusive registered association that brings together a network of multi-disciplinary designers drawn from; Interior Design, Graphics, Fashion, Industrial/ Product, Illustration design and Photography to promote the best design practices, nature design leaders, expand opportunities and raise professional standards of designers in Kenya. Design students also form part of the association through their Design Student chapters drawn from design institutions that form part of the association. We are also keen to be the linkage between the academia based and the self-taught designers through certification and the development of work-based certification.

Designers in the current dispensation are steadily realising the importance of joining relevant and legitimate associations. Due to this awakening, DKS has seen a rise in the number of members joining the fold since inception in 2010. This is an on-going process and the ultimate goal is to have all designers who have since graduated from various design universities and colleges and those who are practising in various design disciplines to join DKS.

The association has held several key conferences. In 2011 and 2017, DKS hosted The Nairobi International Design Conferences (NIDEC) which drew participants locally and internationally. Once again, DKS will be hosting the Nairobi International Design Conference (NIDEC) 2020 which will be held from 25th to 28th September 2020 under the theme "Design Zeitgeist Africa"- (DZA) which addresses the Afrikan Design for the decade and beyond. This will be an opportunity for the designers in Kenya, East Africa and Africa at large to engage on issues that are shaping and will shape and drive the future of design locally and regionally. The conference will target design students, professionals, academia, design enthusiast and other relevant stakeholders as participants.

The conferences, workshops, seminars and get-togethers that have been held in the recent past have seen designers open up, raise their voices and contribute towards the design industry in Kenya. Individual designers and more so design firms have been exposed to vital opportunities and experiences that have made them better designers. As part of its mandate, the association will continue to provide such platforms regularly so that designers can have meaningful engagements and conversations with each other for the betterment of the profession in Kenya and Africa at large.

2020 is a vitally important year to the association. Apart from hosting NIDEC 2020, Design Kenya Society will be turning 10 in September and will celebrate the key milestones achieved since inception and to curve a niche for the future of Design in Kenya. The 10th Anniversary celebration will be characterised by various activities which the association has planned for its members and which will be climaxed during the NIDEC 2020 conference.

Design Kenya Society continues to network with other like-minded associations locally, regionally and internationally for the purpose of raising professional standards and expanding opportunities across the professional networks. DKS is a founder member of the Network of Africa Designers (NAD); a founder member of Afrika Design Forum. Some of the association’s members have participated in various forums across Africa including; South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana, Ethiopia etc., representing DKS and propagating the Kenya Design Agenda.

In regard to the current Kenyan government’s blueprint of the ‘BIG 4 AGENDA”, DKS has made it one of its mandate by ensuring that the conversations/ dialogues that are being advanced by the association, are geared towards supporting the government’s agenda. This is evident from the themes and topics chosen for workshops, seminars and conferences. Some of the association members are also part of the agenda 4 dialogues at various levels in government and non-governmental organisation levels. The role of Designers and DKS at large towards the Big4 Agenda is vital and it is our responsibility to support the government’s agenda given that it is the main consumer of design and good design must primarily serve people.

Design Kenya Society was involved in the drafting of the first draft Design Bill (2013). The journey for developing the Design Bill has been lengthy and several strides are currently being made to ensure that the bill is inclusive and enacted into law which will serve as a guide for the design industry. Discussions are still underway on the same and DKS will soon be calling for a member’s dialogue so that members can add in their voices to the bill.

I, therefore, take this precious opportunity to ask those members who haven’t registered as designers to do so by paying up the requisite fees. Let us all build the design voice, let us all build the design industry in Kenya by joining Design Kenya Society as members.

Let's fuel ourself as a vehement team in 2020 so that we can all achieve uncommon results.

For more information, kindly contact the DKS secretariat at info@designkenyasociety.co.ke.

Yes, together we can.

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Malaki Samson is the current Chairperson of Design Kenya Society and a Museum Design Consultant & Principal Designer - National Museums of Kenya.