Design Made in Africa

As part of Africa 05, the Brunei Gallery (SOAS) presented Design Made in Africa, a selection of 45 objects by 30 designers from 14 African countries.

Algeria: Amira Atallaoui-Deverchere, Abdelaziz Bacha, Medhi Izemrane, Mohamed Fayçal Guenni; Burkina Faso: Vincent Bailou and Vincent Rossin, Anthony Labouriaux, Hamed Ouattara; Cameroon: Sandrine Dole, Jules Bertrand Wokam; Congo: Frédéric Ruyant and Julien Robert; Ivory Coast: Issa Diabaté, Vincent Niamen; Ethiopia: Fasil Giorghis; Mali: Cheick Diallo, Marianne Montaut; Uganda: Sanaa Gateja; Rwanda: Laurent Hategekimana; Senegal: Balthazar Faye, Frédéric Hardouin, Babacar Niang, Dominique Petot; South Africa: Marisa Fick-Jordaan, Maira Koutsoudakis, Piet Pienaar, Strangelove (Carlo Gibson and Zimek Pater); Togo: Kossi Assou, Ameyovi Homawoo; Tunisia: Mehdi Mahmoud Dellagi; Zimbabwe: Ralph Gallagher.

The first major exhibition of contemporary African design ever shown in the UK, Design Made in Africa was produced in 2004 by the Association Française d’Action Artistique (AFAA) and Saint-Etienne Métropole for the SIAO (International Arts and Crafts Fair in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and the Saint-Etienne International Design Biennale. For almost ten years, Afrique en Créations, part of AFAA since 2000 (now Institut Français, Paris) has played a leading role in promoting contemporary African design at the Dak’Art Biennale. A series of workshops organised in Dakar between September and October 2003 by Ousseynou Wade, Dak’Art former Secretary General, and Céline Savoye, designer and curator, as well as the visit of Michel Bouisson, funding manager and liaison officer for design schools at the VIA (Valorisation of Innovation in Furnishing) in Paris, gave the impetus for a more ambitious project on the scale of the African continent. A call was made, inviting African designers, or those practicing on the continent, to submit some of their work in view of a major exhibition that would:

  • promote African design to local and international editors and distributors,
  • initiate or strengthen links between designers, groups of craftsmen, and small businesses,
  • confirm or reveal existing talents in Africa,
  • introduce the international audience to African creativity

With the help of a panel, presided by Samuel Sidibé, Director of the National Museum of Mali in Bamako, curators Céline Savoye and Michel Buisson gathered a unique selection of interior and urban objects addressing and responding to present day lifestyles in Africa.

Alongside the London showcase was organised a talk by Ethiopian designer Fasil Giorghis, then leading a restoration project in Axum. A bilingual catalogue (French/English) with texts by Chab Touré, Dion Chang and Karim Sergoua and the designer’s biographies was published to accompany this show.

Created in two sets, with tours in the South (Africa) and North (Europe and America), the London presentation of Design Made in Africa was coordinated by independent curator Christine Eyene with the support of AFAA (Institut Français), and the Prince Claus Fund for the associated public programme. The show then traveled to Montréal and New York in 2006.

Designer’s Talk:

Cultural heritage and development – the case of Aksum, Ethiopia – an illustrated talk by Fasil Giorghis.
Monday 31st October 2005, 7:00pm; Room B102 (Brunei Building, SOAS)

Aksum is an ancient city in the northern part of Ethiopia, with the earliest known urban civilization in the country. The famous stelae and archaeological sites of Aksum are a world heritage site. Currently Aksum is one site in a cultural heritage project for several locations in the country. How can the preservation of cultural heritage play a role in poverty alleviation and economic development? Fasil Giorghis will discuss the issues based on his present experience in Aksum and elsewhere in Ethiopia.

Photo gallery (click on any image to view the gallery).

Images of design pieces by François Caterin.

Exhibition images by Brunei Gallery (SOAS).


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