The new book Africa Rising: Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa provides an interesting insight into Africa’s creative community, showcasing fresh work developed in this continent’s vibrant urban centers.
Rather than becoming lost in a world of urban practices, Africa is maintaining uniqueness during a time of rapid development. In terms of its urban landscapes, Africa is currently undergoing major changes. Urban renewal, ultra-designed megacities, and grassroots projects are leading to structural and social changes within city centers. Socio-political changes and the historical influence of colonial countries has led to a skewed view of what is truly African design. Rapidly growing urban centers reflect the demand from the continent’s growing middle class and the current cultural links established between communist and African countries during the decolonization process.
As African cities develop, there is a drive to create the next global hot spot for technology, finance, culture, and urban lifestyle. The book refers to this as the “Afropolitan ideal”, fueled by enthusiastic urban planners and bold investors. This rise of rapid urbanization is appealing to Africa’s youngsters — at over 200 million, the growing young population of 15-24 year-olds will continue to demand access to infrastructure for work, rest, and play. By presenting projects, designs, and creative works, Africa Rising successfully shows how Africa is integrating a combination of traditional patterns and modernized structures into the urban setting.
In Braamfontein, Johannesburg, the Neighborgood Market is busy igniting the suburbs civic spirit. Artisanal foods, local music, and rising fashion brands all get an opportunity to impress the public; given the amazing turnout, it would seem the community is leased with the input. Occurring ever Saturday, visitors can become immersed in the burgeoning suburban scene. This market helps to create a community link, bringing together people and goods from the surrounding regions. Markets like this are part of a global phenomenon springing to life in many urban centers. Suitable for locals and tourists, the market introduces community involvement while showcasing the responsible and sustainable practice of artisanal chefs and local designers.
At Babylonstoren, guests partake in a carefully curated dining experience. Just 60 kilometers to the north of Cape Town, this farm is an ideal spot for a day trip or short visit. Maintaining their “farm to fork” motto, the vast majority of the food is planted and cultivated on the farm, and prepared and served in thoughtful arrangements at its restaurant. The style is a contemporary renewal of Cape Dutch architecture and offers a fresh dining experience for visitors.
Inspired by contemporary historical African issues, African art is helping to voice identity and values through imagery. Oscillating between the comfort of home and dark isolation, Nobukho Nqaba’s photo series Umaskhenkethe Likhaya Lam depicts her own childhood joys and uncertainties as a migrant in South Africa. The patterned plastic bags used in the photos, called Umaskhenkethe or Unomgcana in Xhosa, are universally associated with migration and marginalized identities, and Nqaba’s images identify them as a symbol of struggle as well as hope.
Boubacar Doumbia sought to preserve the ancient Bogolan dyeing method through his own practice. In 2008 he founded Le Ndomo, incorporating a resilient aspect of social responsibility by including African youths who have not had access to formal education or job training. The natural Bogolan dyeing technique is an ancient craft tradition, found around the Niger River, particularly in Mali. Le Ndomo sees it as a means of accessing the ancestral past, bringing young Malians into this process of self-discovery to improve their future.
Encompassing each region’s individuality, Africa Rising provides a visualization of the continent, where nature thrives next to the human element. Social and design implications are combined with locally sourced materials to create high end to grass roots level products that are African in form and concept. Each project focuses on local and global issues, including: political changes, global warming, education, and community integration. Africa Rising successfully shows how Africa is truly on the rise.
Africa Rising: Fashion, Lifestyle and Design from Africa
Editors: Gestalten & Design Indaba
Release Date: September 2016
Format: 24 × 30 cm
Full cover, hardcover, 336 pages