Open Design

Mandela Poster Project Exhibition

We will be sharing: The celebration of an icon and the Father of the Nation, Nelson "Madiba" Mandela through art.
Nelson Mandela Arrives At The InterContinental Hotel

Open Design Cape Town will host the exceptional 95-piece Mandela Poster Project (MPP), an exhibition that has made news headlines the world over, at Cape Town City Hall in the very space former-president Nelson Mandela made his first public speech just hours after his release from prison in 1990.

“The power of visual communication through the use of universal symbols and icons is that it has the ability to connect with anyone no matter their level of education or literacy skills, transcending any language barriers,” says Sune Stassen, City Hall and education programme manager. “Like the well-known peace symbol, Mandela is an icon for peace, freedom, leadership, activism, determination, statesmanship, forgiveness, strength and justice. It is therefore very fitting to include the Mandela Poster Project to conclude the last of the six themes i.e. ‘Icons’ as part of the ‘Design is for All’ Exhibition.”

The poster project started off as an initiative by two South African designers and produced more than 700 entries from around 70 countries across the world. The poster entries were then curated and a selection of 95 (representing Madiba’s 95 years) was first exhibited at the University of Pretoria in July. The independent team of volunteers, now known as the Mandela Poster Project Collective, gave freely of their time and expertise to make this exceptional project happen.

“The poster project offered many different narratives and interpretations that, in some cases, were a clear representation of the history and social structure of their countries or origin.” explains Jacques Lange, one of the initiators of the project. “The different countries had legacies of poster design, such as Poland, Cuba and Mexico, where posters were used in the past to change political structures.”

Proudly brought to you by the SABS Design Institute, the official National Design Promotion Body, the Cape Town collection of the Mandela Poster Project will be exhibited at Cape Town City Hall as part of the Design is for All exhibition and an extension of one of the exhibition themes, i.e. Icons, in the hall where Nelson Mandela made his public speech just hours after his release from prison on Robben Island in 1990.


“Our mission is to be a centre of knowledge and delivery of design – as a national change agent. This in turn, we believe, will aid in improving South Africa’s competitiveness, by unlocking the economic value and direct socio-economic contribution that design can bring to our economy,” says Gavin Mageni, group manager for SABS Design Institute. “Design is a powerful discipline and we strive to promote the value for the national good, by connecting design talent with design users.”

The Pretoria exhibition will go on to exhibit in Johannesburg and then will tour internationally. Requests to exhibit have already been received from Brazil, Mexico, the USA, and China. The final collection will eventually go on auction to raise funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust .

The poster project has been endorsed by Icograda (International Council for Communication Design) as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations. The collection of the 95 exhibited posters can be viewed as a digital publication at the MPP official website:


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