African design is more than just craft and beads and ethnic motifs. And DNA, an exciting new 36-month initiative that was recently launched at Arts on Main in Joburg, endeavours to prove that African design is beautifully diverse, startlingly creative and unequivocally contemporary.
DNA, which stands for Design Network Africa, is a project initiated by the Danish Centre for Culture and Development, funded by Danida, and directed by Source, the leading developers of Southern African design to the global marketplace. It brings together aesthetic visionaries from East, West and Southern Africa, with the aim of establishing authentic interaction between 28 outstanding design companies throughout the continent.
Source provides an incredible resource to member companies, assisting them in all areas from product development and marketing to business acumen and production capability. It will also encourage job creation all over Africa.
The project includes the development of a curated collection of new products, to be showcased under the DNA brand, marketed to the international press and targeted at leading retailers around the world.
DNA hopes to revolutionise the way African design is perceived in the global market. With the roster of astounding design talent on board, we wouldn’t be surprised if DNA takes the world by storm.
The inaugural exhibition, held from 25-27 September, in collaboration with PACE, featured works by all of the DNA member designers, combined with creations by other African designers. Among the designers showcased were Adele Dejak from Kenya, Cheick Diallo from Mali, Aissa Dione from Senegal, Okechukwu Echere from Nigeria, Gahaya Links from Rwanda, House on Fire from Swaziland, Hamed Outtara from Burkina Faso, Sanaa Tamu from Tanzania, Marjorie Wallace from Zimbabwe, Artes Mondiane from Mozambique and Mutuba from Uganda. South Africa was represented by Dokter & Misses, Ronel Jordaan, Imiso, Bronze Age, Haldane Martin and Heath Nash.
Photos from DNA: Design Network Afroca & Pilot Pace Fair
Text by Bambina Olivares Wise