Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design showcases work from a diverse range of creative fields: object and furniture design, graphic arts, illustration, fashion, architecture, urban planning, art, craft, film, photography, and more.
The presented works deliberately occupy the grey area between the disciplines, yet they provide concrete answers to the question of what 21st-century design can and should achieve. They are rarely created in large quantities, but often by a collective of individuals. Their production is decentralized, though typically done in an urban context. They are more oriented to the process than the result.
They often emerge from the informal maker culture in which something existing is reworked, or new work is produced with traditional and electronic tools. They establish connections between the digital revolution and our analogue existence. They radically rethink materials. They reflect a sense of responsibility towards society rather than the market and, last but not least, they make bold statements about the future.
These contemporary creations forge a link to the middle of the 20th century, when a young generation celebrated its liberation from colonialism and self-assuredly asserted its place in the world and its right to a promising future. Throughout Making Africa, examples of art and design from that era are juxtaposed with recent works. What the exhibition does not strive to present, however, is a complete picture of design in Africa.
Comprising 54 nations, more than 2000 languages and cultures, and a billion inhabitants, the continent is simply too large, too complex, and too diverse for that. What the exhibition offers instead is a new story, one perhaps not yet known. It is one possibility among many for looking at Africa and an invitation to consider it from a wholly new perspective.