25 May: Africa is Now

In celebration of Africa Day designers define what African creativity means and how it can help shape a bright future for the continent.
25 May 2014 - Africa Day.
25 May 2014 - Africa Day.

What role can design and creativity play in building a better future for Africa?

"Just like in any society, design has a critical role to play in addressing the challenges that we have in Africa. However, as we begin to embrace this, we notice that our issues are uniquely African and purely replicating designs from elsewhere in the world is not an option for us. Instilling the belief that we are all free to be creative will go a long way to foster a sense of innovation in our society and enable us to develop African-specific solutions. Africans are problem solvers at heart, we address our design issues from the ground up with the materials that we have on hand. Some may see this as a haphazard approach with no longevity, but for Africa, it is this highly agile, resource light mentality that will enable us to find the best-fit solutions to our unique challenges. It is an exciting time to be creative in Africa," says Oliver Brain, designer of Streetsleeper, South Africa. 

Design has a central role to play in Africa. Africa's future needs homegrown and contextual solutions to go forward. Only designers and creative minds are able to provide these. Design together with local cultures and traditions have the chance to play a central role in the making of the Africa of tomorrow. It is an exciting time to be a designer in the continent!, says Guillaume Sardin, architect and co-founder of George Periclès, Rwanda.  

What sets African creativity apart?

"African creativity can create serious social change. When I think about the fashion industry and we look at economics; in the UK fashion contributed £37.2 billion or almost 3% to the country's GDP. Just imagine what it would do for social achievement and social change if you took a little piece of that and contributed it to the GDP of Ghana. This starts with harnessing the power of creativity," says Abrima Erwiah, Studio One Eighty Nine, Ghana.

African creativity can definitely change the way we see things and reinterpret our purpose as designers. What is most important for us is to show that we can do something that on only applies to Africa but to the rest of the world. To me African creativity is the creativity of the next century, says Issa Diabaté, architect and managing director of Koffi & Diabaté Architects, Ivory Coast.  

Watch the Talk with Issa Diabaté