This is something to be proud of. The dream of international recognition and collaboration with African design becomes a firm reality this autumn. Over 120 African artists and designers will be showcased in a major exhibition by the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, illustrating how design accompanies and fuels economic and political change in Africa.
Economic growth and an expanding middle class are key elements of the ‘African Boom’, but there is another crucial development that is influencing the continent’s designers and thinkers; the significant increase in access to the Internet.
There are already 650 million mobile phones in Africa – more than in Europe or the US – many of which are Internet-enabled and, with that, have access to a whole new communication platform. This dynamic portal to the world and the shift in perspective it has created is the focus of the Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design exhibition, currently on display in Europe until September this year.
Curated by Amelie Klein, Curator at the Vitra Design Museum, Making Africa features a variety of works from across multiple disciplines that address questions of material culture and design. The exhibition features over 120 African artists and designers, with furniture by Cheick Diallo from Malawi, photography by Mozambican Mario Macilau, sculptures by Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru, architecture of Francis Kere, remarkable cardboard city models by Bodys Isek Kingelez and animation art by Robin Rhode, a South African based in Berlin.
A two-year research process of interviews, think-tanks and conversations from across Africa between some 70 designers, architects, curators, artists and gallerists, has resulted in incredibly unique research material and is a distinctive feature of the exhibition. All also compiled into an impressive 352 page catalogue.
Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design will exhibit until 13 September 2015 at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany and will then move to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain from 23 October 2015 until 21 February 2016.
Images courtesy of Vitra Design Museum.