Four ways Africa can influence design

A core theme of the What Design Can Do conference explores what Africa can do for Europe. These are the experts called upon for answers.

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A core theme of the What Design Can Do conference explores what Africa can do for Europe. These are the experts called upon for answers.
A core theme of the What Design Can Do conference explores what Africa can do for Europe. These are the experts called upon for answers.

We’ve gathered a few of our favourite quotes from the African design leaders who graced the What Design Can Do conference in Amsterdam. Curated by Design Indaba founder Ravi Naidoo, the What Africa Can Do For Europe segment on the second day of the conference garnered a standing ovation from avid onlookers who were treated to low-tech innovations to African problems, architectural practices that involve the community, fashion design that breaks inherited barriers and an avant garde musician paving a new wave in Senegal.

We want to shift the algebra in Africa from lowest common denominator to highest possible multiple - Ravi Naidoo

Lauded as the man who shaped design in Africa, Naidoo was called upon to curate a panel of experts in African design and creativity. By taking the audience on a brief tour of the world renowned Design Indaba conference and the social impact initiatives instituted by its parent company Interactive Africa, Naidoo laid the perfect foundation from which to catapult the upcoming speakers into the hearts and minds of viewers.

We must look to others for solutions to the world’s problems - Juliana Rotich

A pioneer in Africa’s digital revolution, technologist Juliana Rotich is behind the non-profit company, Ushahidi that specialises in free and open-source software. She also created BRCK, a self-powered mobile Wi-Fi device that connects to the nearest 3G network and runs on its 8-hour battery. The device powers the Kio Box, a rugged tech solution bridging the education divide in hard to reach places.

We must tap into rich African heritage to find contextually accurate solutions - Christian Benimana

Rwandan architect Christian Benimana joined MASS design group after completing his Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) of Tongji University in Shanghai. Now, he is looking to establish three centres in Africa in order to breed a generation of human-centred African designers.

We must overcome the boundaries we inherited - Selly Raby Kane 

For Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane it’s clear than the continent has a deep thirst to tell strong stories. She’s described as the “It girl” of African fashion. She launched her label, SRK in 2012. She has since become an icon of Dakar’s alternative fashion scene. She defines SRK as “a future pop art brand that aims to dress young afropolitans across the continent and other citizens of the world.”

You can’t do art without saying something to the people - IBAAKU

Multidisciplinary artist Stephen Bassene, also known as IBAAKU, was introduced to the WDCD stage as the guru of avant-garde music in Senegal. Inspired by the designs of Selly Raby Kane and the sounds he hears in the noisy streets of his home country, Bassene has managed to make art with sound. 

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