What is one of the most common misperceptions about contemporary African design? That design from Africa can be defined by one look and feel. Africa is a diverse continent, home to individual countries each with their own modern, and traditional cultures and designers from across the continent and in the diaspora are translating this into products that cannot be summed up by a single common aesthetic. Also, despite the work being produced meeting a global standard of sophistication and quality, African design still has to battle through a mainstream stigma of African products being seen as of poor quality.
As Africans, do we have a shared design language? When it comes to design there are commonalities in terms of product shapes and the types of skills used that form the basis of design in Africa and have done so for centuries, i.e pots, stools, beading, woodcarving, basket-weaving amongst others. The commonalities begin to diverge where the use of these skills differs from region to region and country to country, enabling us to identify the different cultures, how products are used and other social markers. So when it comes to the ways in which these skills are being applied and adapted to create the design we see today, the highlighted commonalities still exist, but the regional and individual country differences are apparent.
How much exposure have the 5 exhibitors previously had to the SA market? Of the 5 I think that Adele Dejak will probably be a more familiar name to the South African market as the brand has been active in building an African-wide retail presence. Tongoro and Saba Studio have garnered local press coverage in recent months, but in terms of their products being available to purchase as far as I am aware this will be the first time, as it will also be for both Dounia Home and Afrominima.