10 percent: greenside design center (south africa)

From 09.07.2018 to 03.08.2018 Conference Exhibition

South Africa

ico-D is pleased to endorse 10 Percent, an exhibition organised by Greenside Design Center  (South Africa).

10 Percent exhibition displays the culmination of a four week student community project taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa. It includes designed products, prototypes, marketing material and infographics explaining how the community members or others can reproduce the design solutions. Also included in the exhibition are student and community presentations explaining the perceived problems/design challenges and how these were addressed.


"At GDC we value innovation and critical thinking in the design process, which we believe is fundamental to designing for sustainability and social development. From the first year of study, students are encouraged to think critically about the role design plays in shaping societies. They are taught to recognise the power they have and how to manage this responsibly. Our 10 Percent Initiative is a manifestation of this, and our students produce an array of amazing designs for real communities. User centred or emphatic design is the core of these interventions and no projects are carried out without the complete involvement of each community and consideration of ethical issues as well."

— Greenside Design Center


WHAT IS 10%?

10% is the college’s institution-wide community engagement project. GDC students across all levels of study and all disciplines come together to form new multidisciplinary teams, and apply their design perspective to work with a real community. In general they engage with eight communities per year since 2007, meaning 10 Percent has touched 80 communities with the power of design. Each programme could be divided into at least another eight sub components, so the impact is enormous within the communities. The programme is four weeks long (equating to roughly 10% of the curriculum and all other classes are suspended for this period) and subscribes to the ideal that designers should engage with ‘the other 90%’ that have typically not enjoyed the benefits of design interventions.

The types of communities GDC works with and the design solutions produced vary enormously, from designing prototypes of products for local communities to manufacture for new business, to creating promotional material for street artists, to re-designing exhibition spaces at the Origins Museum, to information graphics for mental health, to educational material for schools and street children.


  • Awarded the Design For All Award from the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers award in 2009 at the IFI General Assembly in Dubai.
  • Selected as the focus of the 2014 international Cumulus Conference hosted by Greenside Design Center and The University of Johannesburg.
  • Finalist in the SA Innovation Awards 2016.

The last two days of the programme annually are spent on exhibitions and presentations that involve groups of students, stakeholders in the community, interested observers who may sponsor the projects, local authorities and politicians and anyone in the local community who would like to see the end results.


The programme starts: Monday 9 July 2018 to 3 August 2018
Presentations an an exhibition: 2 and 3 August


What is important to note is that all design solutions generated by 10 Percent are handed over to the community to implement in the form of info graphics, construction diagrams or any other means that are necessary to explain the project. At times students procure sponsorship to implement the projects.

All information related to the projects is archived by GDC so that any other design school from around the world can access the projects, and improve them and refine them for local conditions. As a community project all the work done is open source and available free of charge as long as the end result does not bring remuneration to the institution using the concepts.

As these are community projects, GDC does not charge a fee for their services. They are committed to improve the lives of all through design and introduce those less fortunate to benefit from our expertise.

Greenside Design Center is a specialist design college based in Joburg, South Africa. Established in 1987, GDC has pursued its vision to be leaders in design higher education to nurture innovative and responsible designers for the greater good of humanity. GDC offers degrees and honours degrees in the fields of Interior, Multimedia, Graphic and Visual Communication Design. They also specialise in Design Thinking, offering a one year Higher Certificate and two-day workshops for industry and design education education role players.