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10 Leading Designers From Africa To Know

'Contemporary Design Africa' author Tapiwa Matsinde highlights 10 leading contemporary decor designers from Africa.


Contemporary Design Africa Book Cover © Thames & Hudson

For over a decade and a half an exciting, thriving design scene has taken hold across the African continent, bringing forth a host of talent who are drawing increased global attention. These new voices are challenging the stereotypes that have long defined design from Africa, their work reflecting the wider changes happening across the continent. Designers and artisans together are offering up new perspectives, reviving and revitalising ancient traditions and crafts, and seeking ways to make their world better. This has resulted in innovative, sophisticated products that not only reflect the diversity of the continent, but are also championing 'made in Africa'. Specifically looking to the world of contemporary decor, highlighted over the following pages are a selection of leading and emerging designers drawn from the disciplines of: furniture, ceramics, textiles, product, and basketry design who are making their mark on the industry.

Tapiwa Matsinde is a UK-based designer, writer, and founder of the design blog Atelier Fifty-Five. In her new book, Contemporary Design Africa (Thames & Hudson), Matsinde presents 50 designers, artisans, and cooperatives based on the continent or part of the diaspora who are creating sophisticated and innovative products and interiors.

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Interview

Interview: The Awakening of Bas

We talk to Bas about The Messenger, Bobi Wine, Sudan, and the globalized body of Black pain.

The first thing you notice when you begin to listen to The Messenger—the new investigative documentary podcast following the rise of Ugandan singer, businessman and revolutionary political figure Bobi Wine—is Bas' rich, paced, and deeply-affecting storytelling voice.

Whether he is talking about Uganda's political landscape, painting a picture of Bobi Wine's childhood, or drawing parallels between the violence Black bodies face in America and the structural oppression Africans on the continent continue to endure at the hands of corrupt government administrations, there is no doubt that Bas (real name Abbas Hamad) has an intimate understanding of what he's talking about.

We speak via Zoom, myself in Lagos, and him in his home studio in Los Angeles where he spends most of his time writing as he cools off from recording the last episode of The Messenger. It's evident that the subject matter means a great deal to the 33-year-old Sudanese-American rapper, both as a Black man living in America and one with an African heritage he continues to maintain deep ties with. The conversation around Black bodies enduring various levels of violence is too urgent and present to ignore and this is why The Messenger is a timely and necessary cultural work.

Below, we talk with Bas aboutThe Messenger podcast, Black activism, growing up with parents who helped shape his political consciousness and the globalized body of Black pain.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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