Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design

THE Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design exhibition showcases work from a diverse range of creative fields: object and furniture design, graphic arts, illustration, fashion, architecture, urban planning, art, craft, film, photography, and more.

The presented works deliberately occupy the grey area between the disciplines, yet they provide concrete answers to the question of what 21st-century design can and should achieve. They are rarely created in large quantities, but often by a collective of individuals. Their production is decentralized, though typically done in an urban context. They are more oriented to the process than the result. They often emerge from the informal maker culture in which something existing is reworked, or new work is produced with traditional and electronic tools.

They establish connections between the digital revolution and our analogue existence. They radically rethink materials. They reflect a sense of responsibility towards society rather than the market and, last but not least, they make bold statements about the future. Over a two-year research period, numerous think tanks and interviews were held in major African cities such as Lagos, Dakar, Cape Town, Cairo and Nairobi. During these sessions, some 70 designers, artists, researchers, architects, gallerists and curators were consulted. In the process, a unique resource of primary research material on African design was compiled, which further supports and enriches the exhibition and its accompanying catalogue.

The exhibition was curated by Amelie Klein, Curator at the Vitra Design Museum. Consulting Curator was Okwui Enwezor, Director of Haus der Kunst in Munich and Director of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015. Following its premiere at the Vitra Design Museum, the exhibition will be presented at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao from autumn 2015.

The exhibition is accompanied by a 352-page publication, which offers a first-ever comprehensive overview of African contemporary design. Contributions include Okwui Enwezor’s new definition of a design vocabulary and Koyo Kouoh’s examination of social design.

Other features are interviews with the renowned urbanist Edgar Pieterse, founder of the African Centre for Cities in Cape Town, and with Mugendi M’Rithaa, Professor of Design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, who speaks about object and material culture in Africa. A second part of the publication shows all of the exhibits in a comprehensive catalogue of objects and contains summaries of interviews conducted during the exhibition’s research phase.


 


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