18 February 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

Inspire, interact, indulge - and win!

On 23 February, the Design Indaba in Cape Town begins, with the annual conference followed by the highly anticipated Design Indaba Expo. If you’ve been following them on twitter (@designindaba) like I have, you’ll know that there is a dizzying amount to look forward to.

And I mean literally dizzying. My heart rate is up and I feel confused and slightly faint at the sheer array of beautiful things to look forward to. In fact, last night, my dreams were full of gorgeous objects manifesting in strange new ways as my subconscious thought how best to approach this year’s Design Indaba - and how to communicate what it’s all about.

I have experienced this weirdly anxious and heightened state before, most recently in Florence. I didn’t know what was happening to me. Having ‘travelled’ Florence through its art and literature for years, I was simply overwhelmed at being there, in the presence of so much beauty and choice, with limited time to take it all in.

It was purely by chance that I later stumbled on the explanation - known as Stendhal Syndrome.

It is described as “a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly beautiful or a large amount of art is in a single place.” I was a classic case.

This time round, I haven’t even gotten to the event yet. Just researching the Design Indaba has brought on the symptoms - a new manifestation of the condition brought on by the digital age?

I’ve decided though that the only way to navigate this surfeit of choice is to breathe deeply and plan well. I’m going to limit my focus to a few key areas this year - furniture,  the film festival and fashion…

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m going to be gloriously overwhelmed and swept in all kinds of unexpected directions. And if you tell me what you’re most excited about seeing at Design Indaba 2011, you could win two tickets to attend the event, thanks to South African Tourism, and be swept away too.

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