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Greetings from the city of Hamburg in Germany where I am attending the press conference and opening of Pure Gold – Upcycled! Upgraded! a forward-thinking exhibition that explores rubbish, more specifically how found and waste materials are being used the world over to create objects of value, hence the title, Pure Gold. As one of the curators, I had the honour of selecting designers-makers to represent sub-Saharan Africa.

 

[Image credit: H++, Chair and table set, 2011; Water hyacinth, metal, yarn, wood chair – Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman]

 

 


 

[Dogon stool, 2016; Recycled lubricant barrels – Hamed Ouattara]

 

The featured designer-makers from Africa comprise both well-known names; Hamed Ouattara from Burkina Faso and Artlantique of Senegal represented by Ramón Llonch; and emerging names Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman who works between Nigeria and the UK, and Nelsa Guambe/Piratas Do Pau from Mozambique. Chosen for their individual, innovative approaches to championing sustainable design in their various regions, these designer-makers form part of a global group totalling 53 designers, makers and creative organisations from seven regions.

 

 

 

[Mulher-Woman, rack, 2016; Water heater – Nelsa Guambe/Piratus Do Pau]

 

The need to reuse and recycle more is a pressing global issue, a concern in which sustain approaches to design play a key role, and is an area in which Africa’s designers excel. Their ingenious approaches to working with found materials -largely due to a continent wide culture of resourcefulness born out of necessity- leading the way in bringing forth global solutions.

 

 

 

[Palmarin armchair, 2014; Recycled wood from pirogues – Artlantique]

 

The Pure Gold is divided into two parts, comprising the physical exhibition showcasing the different products; and a virtual platform which offers a space for dialogue in the form of workshops and conferences centred around the issues of rubbish, sustainable design, ethics, responsibility, internationalisation and co-creation. Presented by IFA (Institut für Auslandsbeziehubgen) Pure Gold has been developed and overseen by Axel Kufus, a designer and professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, Germany, and is supported by eight curators from the different regions. As a travelling exhibition Pure Gold is intended to run for ten years visiting the different regions of the world. So it could be coming to a cultural institution near you.

 

– Tapiwa Matsinde

 

Additional details:

For further information about Pure Gold and IFA visit: www.ifa.de

 

 

[Image credits: The images shown belong to the following in order of appearance:

H++, Chair and table set, 2011; Water hyacinth, metal, yarn, wood;
chair: H 80 x W 40 cm; table: H 58 x W 50 cm
Photo: Frank Kleinbach, © ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen)

Dogon stool, 2016; Recycled lubricant barrels, H 85 x W 40 X Ø 43 cm
Galería Out of Africa, Spain
Photo: Frank Kleinbach, © ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen)

Mulher-Woman, rack, 2016; Water heater, H 150 x B 34 cm; Series: Vertical wine racks
Photo/© Nelsa Guambe

Palmarin armchair, 2014; Recycled wood from pirogues, H 110 x W 60 x D 56 cm
Galería Out of Africa, Spain
Photo: Joël Ventura García, © Ramón Llonch

If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]

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  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
  • Instagram Image
  • Colourful basketry, soulful sculpture and an elegant candle make a nice placeholder we think, as we prepare to usher in a new chapter of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Gifted hands. A glimpse behind the scenes of Kaross a South African based embroidery initiative, whose artisans transform furnishings into works of art. [📷 credit: Kaross]
  • Tools of the trade, a hand carved printing block stamp by textile designer @juliekouamo whose evocative designs tell the stories of cultures past and present. Julie's textiles feature richly layered patterns, textures and printed pictures that come together to create vibrant collages. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]
  • Fishermen's boats, a familiar sight along the Senegalese coast line. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]

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