10 African Speakers on African Creativity at Design Indaba 2015

10 African Speakers on African Creativity

 

There is a multitude of exciting creative work being produced on the African continent at the moment and we’re noticing more and more international creatives looking to Africa for inspiration (we made a list with some of them, have a look here). This was reflected in the 2015 Design Indaba conference line-up which included 10 speakers from, or working in, Africa. Following the conference, we chat to these 10 speakers about the current state of creativity on the continent and why they’re excited to be part of it.

 

Textile Designer Sindiso Khumalo | South African working in London

 

Sindiso Khumalo

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

I think we have such a wealth of cultural heritage which other nations have been tapping in to for years and finally we are starting to do it ourselves. Coming from South Africa, we don’t just have a purely ‘African’ heritage, but we have a hybrid-heritage which includes Dutch, Indian… that’s what exciting about working here.

 

What was the main message of your talk?

 

How important collaborations are and how you can create really cool interesting stuff just by joining up with other people, people you could meet anywhere. We should all team up and make interesting mixed-race design babies.

 

African creativity is…

 

… awesome, everywhere, gonna take over the world.

 

Read our interview with Sindiso.

 

 

Pepe Marais and Xolisa Dyeshana from Joe Public | South Africa

 

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/120610329[/vimeo]

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

Pepe: The diversity. There are so many different people, cultures and beliefs. It’s so complex.

 

Xolisa: I agree. It’s also the fact that Africa, or ‘the dark continent’, is now the bright continent. Everybody is setting up shop in Africa. It’s the number one place in terms of potential and vibrancy. It really feels like it’s Africa’s time now.

 

Pepe: That, and also that Africa feels a little uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with itself, which is an interesting contradiction.

 

Xolisa: And that is really forcing us to get out of our comfort zone.

 

What was the main message of your talk?

 

Pepe: The world needs change, creativity drives change and purpose drives creativity.

 

African creativity is…

 

Xolisa: …on the rise.

 

 

Fashion designer Selly Raby Kane | Senegal

 

Selly Raby Kane

Alien Cartoon Collection

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

The energy, the new generation of artists that’s rising. It’s fascinating to see the profiles of artists, there are so many different types of arts, music, photography, fashion here. There’s something new here, influenced by the internet, the exchange of information, global influences, our African roots. It creates a strange mix and it’s great to be a part of that, seeing that at the end of the day there really is a universal language and we get to share our stories with other Africans and people from all around the world. This is what is exciting to me.

 

What was the main message of your talk?

 

It’s all about speaking our voice, an individual voice and speaking the truth – about who we are, what we have seen in our cities, countries, continent and abroad. This is what makes us who we are and what makes our work unique. It’s unconditional, beyond any type of etiquette. Expressing the truth and expressing who you are in your entirety is extremely important.

 

African creativity is…

 

…electric, other, different, vibrating. So many thing are happening here, sub-cultures are emerging everywhere. African creativity is now.

 

 

Selly Raby Kane

Selly Raby Kane

 

 

Architect Naeem Biviji from Studio Propolis | Kenya

 

Studio Propolis

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

As a young practise we get exposed to a lot of interesting work that we wouldn’t necessarily have had access to somewhere else.

 

What was the main message of your talk?

 

The importance of finding opportunity in a situation of lack and that we need to redefine how we practise architecture in different places.

 

African creativity is…

 

…happening.

 

Studio Propolis

Mild steel and bronze front door for Kericho Catherdral in Western Kenya

Studio propolis

Pews for Kericho Catherdral in Western Kenya

 

 

Photographer and artist Omar Victor Diop | Senegal

 

Omar Victor Diop

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

The exciting thing is that the world is looking at us with a different set of eyes. They aren’t looking for ‘the next exotic thing’ anymore. They are looking for genuine creativity and there is a respect and eagerness to see beyond the traditional forms of expression. More and more Africans are working together, creating opportunities in Africa for artistic expression. We don’t need to go abroad anymore, things are happening here now. There’s also the emergence of a market, Africans are buying art. It’s exciting to be part of that.

 

What was the main message of your talk?

 

I wanted to communicate being human. I know it sounds simple, but we put each other in boxes – religion, race, age. And as artists we have the luxury to be able to talk to everyone and it’s very important in the creative process to make sure that what we put out there speaks to humankind, or at least try to do that. It’s something that I’ve discovered in the last few years – being African is great, but being human is even greater.

 

African creativity is…

 

…the bomb! I’m so happy to be part of this generation. Just one example, look this year’s Pecha Kucha grads, their work is so inspiring. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

 

 

Omar Victor Diop

 

 

Product Designer Ackeem Ngwenya is one of the 2015 Pecha Kucha Graduates | South Africa

 

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/74245710[/vimeo]

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

Seeing other young people create world-class work and realising that we don’t have to wait for external help, but we can initiate projects ourselves. We can be part of the progress that we want to see here.

 

What did you learn while working on your Roadless project? 

 

While working on Roadless I realised that in theory there is no difference between theory and practise, but in practise there’s a fundamental difference. A lot of my good work is created when I am actually doing stuff. It is only once you do stuff that you realise what the possibilities are.

 

African creativity is…

 

…taking scarcity as opportunity for innovation. A lot of people are already doing creative things under scarce circumstances, things they don’t think of as ‘design’, but things that are definitely very creative.

 

Roadless

 

 

Illustrator Carla Kreuser is one of the 2015 Pecha Kucha Graduates | South Africa

 

Carla Kreuser

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

In his talk Naeem Biviji from Studio Propolis spoke about creating work that’s not only good enough ‘for Africa’, but actually making stuff that’s world-class. We have some restrictions when working creatively, especially when creating illustrated books like I do. We have a very small market for that here, very few publishers and so on. But creating local narratives and being able to send them out into the world, that’s very exciting!

 

What did you learn while working on this project? 

 

While working on The Boy with a Fire in his Boot I was interacting with someone else’s words, which I found really challenging. I was so inspired by them and wanted to create illustrations that were good enough, ones that would complement the text. So there was a lot of learning!

 

African creativity is…

 

Colourful, fresh, young and full of hope. We’re still figuring it all out here, it hasn’t all been done.

 

 

Carla Kreuser

Carla Kreuser

 

 

Artist Ng’endo Mukii | Kenya

 

[vimeo]https://vimeo.com/42048317[/vimeo]

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

I used to live in London and I was struggling to find work and to connect with people. I came home after graduating and I was living in Nairobi, there were so many connections that I had there. Other artists, filmmakers and designers were also returning from abroad. All these people are coming home and suddenly Africa becomes this exciting boiling pot of these different experiences. Everyone is working together and helping each other. On my street there are at least ten other people involved in filmmaking, so when we’re shooting we source the crew from my street. That’s what I find really exciting about working here.

 

What was the main message of your talk?

 

In my talk I was looking at the way indigenous people have been represented using film and photography over the years. We’ve been turned into icons, not humans. We’ve been reduced to these icons that are being used and shown in different parts of the world. I am looking at animation as a possible way of addressing this, as a means of showing our humanity.

 

African creativity is…

 

…you and me.

 

 

Robbie Brozin, founder of Nando’s | South Africa

 

Robbie Brozin

Nando’s Long Street, Cape Town. Artwork by Xolile Mtakatya and Colossol Media.

 

What do you find exciting about working in Africa now? 

 

Africa is exciting because it’s full of energy and creativity – it’s in challenging times that those thrive.

 

What was the main message of your talk?

 

The journey is part of the reward. Do stuff that excites you every day.

 

African creativity is…

 

African creativity has never been hotter. It’s time for Africa!

 

Robbie Brozin

Nando’s Kloof Street, Cape Town. Artwork by Liza Grobler and the Half Square team.

 

 

Find more Design Indaba content, including conference field notes and more.

 

2 Comments

  1. Fantastic and well do to all …

  2. So glad there were some great speakers this year to make up for the dismal expo. So many amazing SA furniture designers, and hardly any showcased there- it just seemed like a mediocre craft market!