Des is at present a Vice President on the International Council of Design (ico-D) board 2017-2019. He was co-opted onto the ico-D board in the last term, 2015-2017, to promote and grow the interior architecture membership for the world body.
He is a Past President of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) and a parliamentarian of that federation. IFI represents the interests of designers worldwide in 60 countries. Des wrote the IFI Position Paper on Socially Responsible Design. He also served on the Strategic Planning Committee of IFI and received a lifetime achievement award and a fellowship from the federation at their General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur in 2014. He attended every General Assembly of IFI from 1991 till 2015.
He is a Fellow and was an Executive Board Member of Design for the World, based in Barcelona, Spain, which is a multi-disciplinary organisation concerned with humanitarian aspects of design. He is the only designer in South Africa to serve on three international design boards.
In 2001 he was appointed as a Visiting Professor of Design at Nottingham Trent University because of his achievements in promoting socially responsible design on an international level. His appointment was vetted by interior architects in Sweden, Denmark, Australia, Korea and Ireland.
Des has presented papers related to design issues in many countries around the world, including Korea, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, England, Brazil, Chili, Mexico, Malysia, United Kingdom and the USA, to mention a few. He has also been a juror and chair for many design competitions internationally. Along with this he curated an exhibition entitled NEWAFRICA which saw South African designs from all disciples exhibited in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2007.
In 2014 he was chair of the organizing committee that saw the first Cumulus Conference hosted on the continent of Africa. The conference entitled “Design With The Other 90%” attracted speakers and delegates from 25 countries.
He was instrumental in founding the African Institute of the Interior Design Professions, IID. Under his leadership as President the institute set new standards in professionalism within the industry culminating in professional decorators, designers and interior architects receiving recognition of their titles from the South African Quality Authority (SAQA). He is at present on a panel of designers that is forming a multi-disciplinary professional design body called the Pan African Design Institute that will have its headquarters in Ghana.
He is an advisor on design matters for the Department of Art and Culture in South Africa as well as being on an expert panel formulating a design policy for the government. He has represented the government of South Africa as a design expert in France. Des is at present working with a team of designers, teachers, Umalusi (the quality assurance body for basic education) and the Department of Education to introduce ‘design thinking’ to all programmes at secondary school level. Entrepreneurship is included in the concept of ‘design thinking’. He is one of the founding members of the IDEA Collective, Innovative Design Education Africa.
He is at present CEO of Greenside Design Center, College of Design, South Africa, a world class design education institution he co-founded with Ingrid Leujes in 1987.