Tuesday 25 February 2014


The British Council today announced that a special edition of Maker Libraries will go on display at GUILD 2014 in South Africa on 28 February, marking the launch of Cape Town as 2014 World Design Capital. Commissioned by the British Council, conceived by Daniel Charny, and developed with creative projects consultancy From Now On, the project will launch in South Africa as part of the British Council's Connect ZA programme. It aims to create a dialogue between makers in the UK and South Africa. 

The Maker Library Network (MLN) will establish spaces for collaboration and connection, exploring the role of the library as a fundamental space for the exchange of knowledge and ideas. It marks the beginning of the development of the Maker Libraries and their potential to expand as a global network, connecting makers around the world. A central aim of the MLN is build a powerful resource through a diverse collection of both small and large libraries, from bookshelves in community centres to fully fledged, globally recognized making spaces. Reflecting this democratic ideal, an open call will be announced by Thomas Heatherwick and Daniel Charny at Indaba Expo on 28 February for spaces in South Africa to join the MLN in 2014.

This edition of the MLN at GUILD, Maker Library: The Victoria and Albert Museum with the British Council, illustrates the span of current British design practice. It will include a display of work by contemporary British designers in the Maker Library’s gallery, curated by Jana Scholze from the V&A with Daniel Charny as curatorial adviser. The exhibition will present the most vibrant and sophisticated design work created in Britain in recent years by both established and emerging designers across a broad range of fields. Work by Industrial Facility, Hans Stofer, Shauna Richardson and Martino Gamper will be included. South African designer and former British Council Young Creative Entrepreneur, Heath Nash will be librarian in residence. He will be joined by Tetsuo Mukai from Study’O Portable as guest librarian.

At Design Indaba Expo, Africa’s biggest design event, Cape Town Studio Thingking will be mounting a pop-up library with UK organisation and twin maker library, Makerversity in London, based on emerging digital technologies. 

At its heart each Maker Library champions the integration of reading, making and curating in the same space as a valuable contribution to the creative process. The core elements of each space are a gallery, a library of books on making and a making space open to the public, this flexible system can be adapted to a range of spaces and contexts. Building on the premise of open design and the sharing of knowledge, the programme is an ongoing dialogue and connection between makers in the UK, South Africa and globally. Libraries will be linked to an online platform that will feature network-wide projects, host an online mentoring programme, and contain a downloadable library blueprint kit of commissioned elements that can be made and adapted by each space.

Maker Library: V&A with the British Council is the first step of an ambitious programme which will continue throughout 2014, culminating with an event showcasing and engaging with the global potential of the making and the MLN.

Daniel Charny said: “The Maker Library Network is about libraries as spaces that bring together the creative and the social. This non-centralised network is an open design platform that depends on generosity, trust and enthusiasm.  We hope it will work for people who otherwise may have limited access to connect, showcase and learn from others.” 

Jana Scholze, V&A Curator of Contemporary Furniture, said: “This display aims to provide a glimpse of what is happening in British design now, in the broadest sense. Most contemporary work challenges our understanding of design, responding to shifting social codes and cultural values. Concept and experiment is often central to the approach of making and the exhibition testifies a rich diversity of results. The selection of work pays tribute to a common practice executed by established designers as well as others at the beginning of their careers. It is very exciting to present this exhibition at Guild Design Fair as Cape Town celebrates its status World Design Capital for 2014.”

Vicky Richardson, British Council Director Architecture, Design, Fashion says “The prototype Maker Libraries that we’re launching in Cape Town will be a chance to test the idea and put the word out about our intention to build a network of designers and makers in South Africa and the UK. We don’t know where this project will lead, but we know there is a huge appetite for sharing ideas in both countries and experimenting with new ways of working, which we hope the Network will support and encourage.”

Notes to Editor

Maker Libraries at Guild is a British Council and V&A partnership project, presented as part of the Maker Library Network which has been commissioned by British Council’s ConnectZA in collaboration with Creative Scotland. 

For more information about the British Council contact:

Mary Doherty, Press Officer // +44(0)207 389 3144


For more information about the V&A contact:

Olivia Colling, Head of Press and Corporate Communications // +44(0)207 942 2725


GUILD Design Fair

Cape Town

27 February-9 March 2014

Design Indaba Expo

Cape Town

28 February-2 March 2014 

About Connect ZA

Connect ZA is a major new series of cultural exchanges between the UK and South Africa marking 2014 as a celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa. From 2013 to 2015, the programme will support cultural connections between young people aged 18-35 in the UK and South Africa with series of arts projects and use digital platforms to build creative networks through live music, film, visual art and design.

Projects will range from partnerships with arts festivals and workshops to working with artists, writers, filmmakers and designers. Connect ZA aims to reach new and diverse audiences for the arts and stimulate innovation, whilst forging new collaborations with organisations and individuals on both continents.

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. We earn over 75% of our annual turnover of nearly £700 million from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for and from partnerships. A UK Government grant provides the remaining 25%. We match every £1 of core public funding with over £3 earned in pursuit of our charitable purpose.. 

About the V&A

The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. It was established to make works of art available to all and to inspire British designers and manufacturers. Today, the V&A’s collections, which span over 2000 years of human creativity in virtually every medium and from many parts of the world, continue to intrigue, inspire and inform.