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Design future essay

themes of science fiction and futuristic notions which incorporate elements of African ethnicity and culture (Peters, B. 2018. This is Afrofuturism. [online] Available at: https://africanarguments.org/2018/03/06/this-is-afrofuturism/ [Accessed 15 March. 2019]). Africa has always been seen by Westerners as a continent with little development or historical part in the world (Mbembe, A. nd. African Futures: Thinking about the future in word and image. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag. 315-335). These western ideas of Africa are ignorant views from the perspective of the people living here who are experiencing the culture and growth, Africa not only holds immense history but it is a strong developing country (Mbembe, A. nd. African Futures: Thinking about the future in word and image. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag. 315-335). This perspective of Africa having a lack of evolution in terms of education, medicine, economic rates and technology etc. are insensible and outdated (Mbembe, A. nd. African Futures: Thinking about the future in word and image. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag. 315-335). Although Africa and more specifically, South Africa, still have a long way to go in relation to the Western world, there are many initiatives being put in place to help grow the country. The Design Indaba, held annually in Cape Town, showcases designers with revolutionary ideas and concepts that will help orchestrate the future of the country in a sustainable and culturally healthy way. Within this essay I will be discussing 6 Designers that spoke at the 2019 Design Indaba that I found to be compelling and influential in terms of creating relevant work that will mould the future in an expressive and innovative way.

Nicole Moyo is a graduate architecture designer that stood out to me. She strives to empower informal communities (townships) to build for themselves and create their own energy, water and waste systems (Matroos, J. 2018. Putting service delivery in the hands of the people. [online] Available at: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/putting-service-delivery-hands-people [Accessed 16 March. 2019]). This project, entitled Ukubutha, is an innovative community hub that aims to harness green technology in order to create energy from waste. Not only will this project enhance the standard of living for these communities but it will also create a safe and interactive space for the people. Moyo’s work is relevant for today and for the future because it will not only enhance the growth of the community but it will encourage and empower the lower-income communities to take more initiative and motivate them to create a more sustainable, environmentally friendly community and country. With Moyo’s design featuring the traditional hut, the new, modern hub will create an aspect of reflection on the communities’ culture and heritage.

Afrofuturism can been seen as a reflection of the past as a projection of a brighter future (Peters, B. 2018. This is Afrofuturism. [online] Available at: https://africanarguments.org/2018/03/06/this-is-afrofuturism/ [Accessed 15 March. 2019]). Ukubutha is creating an Afrofuturistic environment as it is linking elements of the historical African culture with the futuristic idea of this sustainable, community hub. The use of these traditional huts are creating a discovery of the powerful history of the country in an impactful and engaging way (Matroos, J. 2018. Putting service delivery in the hands of the people. [online] Available at: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/putting-service-delivery-hands-people [Accessed 16 March. 2019]). Kahiu speaks of how it is implied that we as humans are powerless in the face of technology, and that African people especially will be excluded from a technological future. However Moyo is challenging this notion with Ukubutha and she is proving that the people will take initiative and work hand-in-hand with technology (Kahiu, W. nd. African Futures: Thinking about the future in word and image. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag. 227-236). Moyo’s Ukubutha initiative is culturally significant in the sense that she isn’t stripping the community of their historical, social and aesthetic values but incorporating it in the future of their community.

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Ukubutha Design, Nicole Moyo

Another designer that interested me is the Senegalese fashion designer, Selly Raby Kane. With inspiration from pop-culture and cinema, Kane incorporates African aesthetics and pushes her designs further by challenging the traditional Senegalese fashion codes and trends. Kane’s designs are multifaceted and are defying the normal fashion aesthetic. Creating this innovative fashion is liberating and is generating a new space in which for African people to express themselves. (Anon. nd. Selly Raby Kane. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/profiles/selly-raby-kane [Accessed 17 march. 2019]). Kane is redefining the creative energy in Dakar and this is evolving into a new form of culture without losing the ethnicity and heritage (Anon. nd. Selly Raby Kane. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/profiles/selly-raby-kane [Accessed 17 march. 2019]).

Being a speaker at the Indaba in previous years, Kane this year spoke about her involvement in the IKEA Overallt furniture collection. The Overallt Collection brings together modern Africa with Scandinavian design, producing designs that celebrate everyday rituals and embrace connections between Western and African cultures (Design Indaba. 2019. The coveted items that make up the IKEA Overall Collection. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/coveted-items-make-ikea-överallt-collection [Accessed 17 March. 2019]). Having previously used fake hair in her designs, Kane took inspiration from hair braiding rituals practiced across many African cultures to create the Overallt baskets. This influence is evident in the creation of the baskets and it is innovative and new (Design Indaba. 2019. The coveted items that make up the IKEA Overall Collection. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/coveted-items-make-ikea-överallt-collection [Accessed 17 March. 2019].

Kahiu wrote that Africans created movement and that the African continent created the future. This is evident in the work Kane is producing, not only in her fashion but also in the IKEA Overallt Collection. She pushes the boundaries with fashion being inspired by culture and the Overallt baskets are emanating this historical, traditional concept that Africa has always been a place of the future (Design Indaba. 2019. The coveted items that make up the IKEA Overall Collection. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/coveted-items-make-ikea-överallt-collection [Accessed 17 March. 2019] ).

Selly Rabe Kane’s Basket, IKEA Overallt Collection

Laduma Ngxokolo is a textile designer well known for his brand, Maxhosa. Ngxokolo brings his traditional Xhosa heritage into his knitwear designs and is creating products that are appealing because of their modern, cultural aesthetic (Anon. nd. Laduma Ngxokolo. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/profiles/laduma-ngxokolo?page=1 [Accessed 17 March. 2019]). Ngxokolo started Maxhosa with the intent to explore solutions that would be appropriate for Xhosa initiates. Having experienced this process of Amakrwala, Ngxokolo strived to develop exclusive knitwear that celebrates the traditional Xhosa aesthetic. Using Xhosa beadwork patterns, symbolism and colour as inspiration he reinterpreted this in his designs (Anon. nd. Laduma Ngxokolo. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/profiles/laduma-ngxokolo?page=1 [Accessed 17 March. 2019] ).

Ngxokolo implements and pushes the evolution of traditional culture and creates a modern, culturally rich future (Anon. nd. Maxhosa: The Brand Story. [online] Available: https://maxhosa.africa/brand-story [Accessed 17 March. 2019]). These designs are creating a new space for the young Xhosa men and are paving the path of the future of this tradition. As said by Kahiu, it is hard for us not to project our past into the future and Ngxokolo is doing this in a vibrant way (Anon. nd. Maxhosa: The Brand Story. [online] Available: https://maxhosa.africa/brand-story [Accessed 17 March. 2019]).

Along with Selly Raby Kane, and others, Ngxokolo is involved in the IKEA Overallt Collection. Contributing carpets with Xhosa inspired prints to the Overallt Collection, Ngxokolo showed how well the merging of traditional aesthetics and modern concepts can be achieved (Design Indaba. 2019. The coveted items that make up the IKEA Overall Collection. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/coveted-items-make-ikea-överallt-collection [Accessed 17 March. 2019]).

This project has created a space where Ngxokolo can branch out in different applications but where he doesn’t lose his signature style. The carpets produced for the cross-continental collaboration not only provide aesthetic pleasure, but a rich historical and traditional background. The IKEA Collection is a platform for designers to create items that will give insight about different cultural rituals to other societies and Ngxokolo is achieving this merge in an innovative, fresh way (Design Indaba. 2019. The coveted items that make up the IKEA Overall Collection. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/coveted-items-make-ikea-överallt-collection [Accessed 17 March. 2019]).

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Laduma Ngxokolo’s Carpet, IKEA Overallt Collection

Creating products that are meaningful and genuine, Pascal Theron uses her cultural background to drive inspiration for her designs (Matroos, J. 2019. Young designers are the future of the industry, but what are they saying? [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/young-designers-are-future-industry-what-are-they-saying [Accessed 16 March. 2019]). Looking back on memories and her experience in South Africa, Theron creates cultural products that are a combination of art and design. With her designs, Theron strives to raise awareness and focus on solid social and historical issues (Matroos, J. 2019. Young designers are the future of the industry, but what are they saying? [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/young-designers-are-future-industry-what-are-they-saying [Accessed 16 March. 2019]). Each object she designs is used to give entry to an enlightenment of ethics, history, culture and nature etc. With her innovative way of creating, she is giving opportunity for us to learn something from her objects – these controversial conversational pieces give light to the past, challenge the present, and provide insight to a brighter future (Matroos, J. 2019. Young designers are the future of the industry, but what are they saying? [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/young-designers-are-future-industry-what-are-they-saying [Accessed 16 March. 2019]).

For the 2019 Indaba, Theron spoke about how she took inspiration from the once desired ostrich feather to create products that make us question the current products we use, and how we can design in a way that is biodegradable and waste-free. Theron took inspiration from the ostrich feather for not only its aesthetic beauty, but also to reinforce its once immense value. Holroyd speaks about how designers are frequently involved in initiatives that are shaping the role of interaction between tradition and innovation and Theron is doing this with her culturally engaging products (Holroyd, A T. nd. Design Roots: Culturally significant designs, products and practices. London: Bloomsbury. 25-37). Theron’s products are involving local communities in reimagining their histories and traditions and are providing items that are giving a voice to once forgotten values and customs.

Ostrich Feather Products, Pascale Theron

Nigerian fashion designer, Adebayo Oke-Lawal, created a brand that not only adheres to what he wants to see happen in fashion, but to like-minded people as well. Experiencing how people still follow the old fashioned norms about what we wear, Lawal wanted to create fashion for himself and for people that no longer wanted to be boxed in by society’s rules (Anon. 2019. Nigerian fashion powerhouse Adebayo Oke-Lawal brings Orange Culture to Design Indaba 2019. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/nigerian-fashion-powerhouse-adebayo-oke-lawal-brings-orange-culture-design [Accessed 16 March. 2019] ). This initiative was to push away the stereotypical, binary fashion to which we’ve become accustomed. Orange Culture provides androgynous garments that challenge these everyday stereotypes. Lawal’s fashion movement also includes his cultural roots, giving us bold, eccentric pieces that retain the local Nigerian ethnicity (Anon. 2019. Nigerian fashion powerhouse Adebayo Oke-Lawal brings Orange Culture to Design Indaba 2019. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/nigerian-fashion-powerhouse-adebayo-oke-lawal-brings-orange-culture-design [Accessed 16 March. 2019]). Lawal brings a new appreciation for the movement, depth and value of African design as well as global androgynous fashion (Mitchell, L. 2019. Adebayo Oke-Lawal on using fashion as a tool for social change. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/adebayo-oke-lawal-using-fashion-tool-social-change [Accessed 16 March. 2019]).

A key element in culturally significant designs is authenticity, with this the traditions on which this authenticity is based are complicated (Mitchell, L. 2019. Adebayo Oke-Lawal on

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using fashion as a tool for social change. [online] Available:https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/adebayo-oke-lawal-using-fashion-tool-social-change [Accessed 16 March. 2019] ). However, Lawal, uses this to turn his designs into authentic creations, whilst converting the intense traditional ideas of fashion into a new dimension. Wangechi Mutu said that Arica has always been a place of the future, and Lawal is highlighting this and is provoking other African people to create significant work that will reinvent our culture and heritage (Kahiu, W. nd. African Futures: Thinking about the future in word and image. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag. 227-236).

Orange Culture 2019 Range, Adebayo Oke-Lawal

Lastly, fashion and textile designer, Sindiso Khumalo aims to create modern, sustainable textiles that have be strongly influenced by African story telling. Khumalo designs her textiles through watercolours and collage, thus giving her a unique visual voice which relates back to her heritage (Anon. 2019. Sindiso Khumalo. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/profiles/sindiso-khumalo [Accessed 17] ). From Kwazulu-Natal, Khumalo is not only creating these intense cultural textiles, but she is also producing them in a sustainable, empowering way. Working closely with a NGO she is working toward developing handmade textiles for her collections (Anon. 2019. Sindiso Khumalo. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/profiles/sindiso-khumalo [Accessed 17] ).

Being a previous speaker at the Indaba, Khumalo returns as a part of the IKEA Overall Collection, working with fellow designer Renée Rossouw. They merged their two styles into one when creating textiles that took on the form of cushions (Anon., 2019. These designers will present the IKEA x Design Indaba ÖVERALLT collection on the Conference stage. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/these-designers-will-present-ikea-x-design-indaba-överallt-collection [Accessed 17 March. 2019]). Finding inspiration in the Zulu and Ndebele tribes along with nature, the designs produced were bold, vibrant and eccentric.(Anon., 2019. These designers will present the IKEA x Design Indaba ÖVERALLT collection on the Conference stage. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/articles/creative-work/these-designers-will-present-ikea-x-design-indaba-överallt-collection [Accessed 17 March. 2019] ).

Khumalo is further creating this type of engagement with her textiles, bringing people with differences together, joining them in the hands of similarity. She is embracing Africa’s potential creative streak and using it to motivate and empower others to do the same (Anon. 2019. Sindiso Khumalo. [online] Available: https://www.designindaba.com/profiles/sindiso-khumalo [Accessed 17 March. 2019]).

Sindiso Khumalo and Renée Rossouw’s textile Cushions, IKEA Overallt Collection

Looking at current and future trends, using the past for inspiration for the future is a relevant and popular trend (Ellison, K. 2015. The past and future of design trends. [online] Available: https://99designs.com/blog/trends/the-past-and-future-of-design-trends/ [Accessed 18 March, 2019]). All designers mentioned above fulfil this idea of looking back in order to create the future. Focusing on Nicole Moyo, she is creating a sustainable space that will empower the local community. In future it is plausible that she will be evolving the hub into an even more sustainable community, and spread it continently and potentially globally. She could do this by using the energy created by waste which is then turned into fertiliser to not only form the community gardens but then establish farms/orchards that could employ the local people, creating job opportunities and increasing their communities economic status. Laduma Ngxokolo could also branch even further and focus on other initiatives that involve his culture, like the Maxhosa brand, he can focus on other traditions that he can help reinvent for the future.

In conclusion, local and global designers are paving a vibrant future for Africa. Involving culture and tradition in designs and products, designers are reinventing how Africa is viewed by Westerners and even the local community. The Afrofuturistic idea of the African continent is already in play and with these innovative designers it is being sped up.

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