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Contemporary Design Africa

Tapiwa Matsinde


An irresistibly stylish and original celebration of the exciting ways in which Africa’s rich array of craft traditions are being preserved and revived with an exciting contemporary twist


For the first time, here is a book on contemporary African design that offers a fresh perspective rather than just concentrating on traditional crafts. Africa invented 'design'; it just wasn't called that. Now, expressing new-found confidence, an astonishingly variegated contemporary efflorescence is ready to go global. The reader is taken far beyond such cultural stereotypes as safari chic and is shown innovative creativity from across the continent.

The work included illustrates how traditions are being revived, but with a contemporary twist. The award-winning designs by Zenzulu™ in South Africa, for instance, are based on the utilization of the skills of Zulu master basketweavers. An introductory section identifies the sophistication, vitality, diversity and soulfulness of the past that is now harnessed to develop a contemporary African identity.

With a primary focus on interiors, sections on furniture, textiles, ceramics, basketry and lighting bring together the work of respected designers, makers and organizations based on the African continent or part of the diaspora. Celebrating the wider changes occurring across Africa, the fifty or so designers and crafters included have been chosen for their innovative approach to creating sophisticated products. Sustainability and recycling are often of the utmost importance: Cheick Diallo, the founder of the African Designers Association, for example, creates stunning pieces of furniture from discarded materials.

This book will preserve the traditions of the past by creating a record of the designs they are influencing in the present, whether shown in using natural indigo dyeing or in creating porcelain ceramics inspired by basketmaking designs. The book is completed by a map, as well as a glossary and bibliography.

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'African design is garnering ever-greater attention in the West and now new book 'Contemporary Design Africa' … celebrates the best'
Elle Decoration

'Offering an inspirational challenge to rigid perceptions of what design from Africa looks like'
New Design

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback with flaps

Size: 25.0 x 20.0 cm

Extent: 208 pp

Illustrations: 230

Publication date: 18 May 2015

ISBN: 9780500291627

Contents List

Introduction; Design Africa; Africa’s Creative Skills; Design Showcase: Basketry, Ceramics, Furniture, Lighting and Decor, Textiles; Glossary, Map, Further Reading, Notes, Picture Credits, Index

About the Author

Tapiwa Matsinde is a British-born designer, creative business consultant and writer of Zimbabwean heritage. She has worked as a graphic designer and a brand guardian in corporate communications for leading international organizations, and is the creator of a blog, Atelier Fifty-Five.