GRAPHIC AFRICA- Celebrating contemporary African furniture
GRAPHIC AFRICA: A celebration of African Design showcasing contemporary furniture
Led by Design Network Africa, GRAPHIC AFRICA is celebration of African Design, showcasing contemporary furniture by 16 designers from 10 countries in East, West and South Africa. Picking up on the current shifts and exciting developments in design happening across the continent, curator Trevyn and Julian McGowan selected over 20 pieces of new furniture, and a capsule collection of ceramics, glassware and lighting all drawing from the most contemporary interpretation of African pattern and scale.
Upon entering the exhibition space, I was excited by the great turn out of people and mesmerised by modern furniture and lighting from Johannesburg-based Dokter & Misses, hand-strung iconic furniture from Cheick Diallo from Mali, crafted metal furniture by Hamed Ouattara from Burkina Faso, artistic ceramics by Cape Town-based Imiso and graphic textiles by Boubacar Doumbia who runs textile-based social enterprises in Mali.
PLATFORM: Sharing remarkable and thought provoking design
I last visited PLATFORM in May 2012, for its official launch party, where I described it as a forward thinking and inviting initiative aimed at sharing remarkable and thought provoking design to encourage, support and promote talent.
(You can read that feature post here: Habitat PLATFORM launch party.
Nonetheless, it had been over a year since I was last at PLATFORM and I was excited and intrigued to see how it has developed, so the GRAPHIC AFRICA opening party, seemed like a fitting time to drop in.
COLLABORATION CASE STUDY: Rebecca Hoyes and Boubacar Doumbia
Rebecca Hoyes, Senior Designer at Habitat visited Burkina Fasso earlier this year to collaborate with Boubacar Doumbia, one of the 16 designers exhibiting at the GRAPHIC AFRICA exhibition. Boubacar tutored Rebecca on ‘mud cloth’ techniques to create a limited edition textile collection. The result was a stunning and unique collection of cushions, throws and textiles exclusive to Habitat.
The collaboration was indicative of the stories behind all the designs in GRAPHIC AFRICA, as each of the designers in the exhibition spent time with each other in recent months, sharing their specific techniques and knowledge which all too often is limited to their own region.
“International collaborations as well as improved networks within Africa itself mean new design and production perspectives are emerging on a global scale”, says Hoyes.
MY FAVOURITE DESIGNER AND DESIGN:
This particular artist and design sparked an interesting conversation between my boyfriend and I over Western portrayals of African design. One of my visions for Africa is the hope for a discontinuation of the continent being a poster child for poverty, However, presently it goes without saying that ‘resourcefulness’ remains a part of life for millions living across the continent, so, obviously therefore, I have an appreciation of art that can reflect this.
I chose Hamad Ouattara’s steel chair, made from recycled industrial metal as my favourite design from the collection. It’s not so much that his work is about resourcefulness, but rather that it’s about rebellion, a revolt against the importation of plastics and cheap goods spilling into his country.
Hamed’s goal is to provide a key point in a continent which suffers from imports and all kinds of imitation furniture, especially from poor quality which he feels does not reflect African culture. His designs are made from recycled industrial metal and oil cans. In Burkina Fasso, resources and materials are in limited supply and the imports that come into the country are usually of poor quality. Hamed decides to work with recucled metal, oil drums an dcans as a deliberate reaction this his country being inundated with cheap exports, especially plastics.
FRIENDLY FACES: Choolips, YinksDesigns, Soboye Boutique
As much as I love seeing great design, it doesn’t beat seeing some of my favourite designers. In addition to hosting an exhibition of stunning and thought provoking pieces GRAPHIC AFRICA had a great turn out where I pumped into a variety of faces. Some I knew and some were new, and it made for a great evening of conversation. Also, I must give a special mention to Jollof Pot for their lovely canape’s. I don’t have any pictures to prove how delightful the food was because I was too busy scoffing my face ;-)
Enjoy pictures from the opening night below and a live performance by The Venus Bushfires