10 Leading Designers From Africa To Know

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

Imiso Ceramics (Ceramics, South Africa)

Imiso Ceramics: ‘Africasso’ collection © Majolandile Dyalvane for Imiso Ceramics– Featured in Contemporary Design Africa © Thames & Hudson

Imiso Ceramics is a Cape Town-based ceramics studio where art meets design and craft. Imiso Ceramics has been handcrafting highly collectable ceramics since 2006, when Mojandile ‘Andile’ Dyalvane and Zizipho Poswa formed the studio. Inspired by tradition and nature, the duo have each developed a distinctive signature style. Dyalvane showcases a more experimental approach towards his designs, creating sculptural vessels that can reach dramatic proportions. His decorative technique ranges from surface decoration that draws on a range of influences from Cubism, notably Pablo Picasso being inspired by Africa, as seen in the Africasso Collection, to the age-old tradition of scarification practiced in parts of Africa, inspiring a collection of decorative etchings made in clay. Poswa on the other hand has a more playful, whimsical style reminiscent of flowers in bloom, rendered in bright colours and adorned with delicate patterns inspired by her background in textile design.

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Photo: Jolaoso Adebayo.

Crayon Is Nigeria's Prince of Bright Pop Melodies

Since emerging on the scene over two years ago, Crayon has carved a unique path with his catchy songs.

During the 2010s, the young musician Charles Chibuezechukwu made several failed attempts to get into a Nigerian university. On the day of his fifth attempt, while waiting for the exam's commencement, he thought of what he really wanted out of life. To the surprise of the thousands present, he stood up and left the centre, having chosen music. "Nobody knew I didn't write the exam," Charles, who's now known to afro pop lovers as Crayon, tells OkayAfrica over a Zoom call from a Lagos studio. "I had to lie to my parents that I wrote it and didn't pass. But before then, I had already met Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh [my label superiors], so I knew I was headed somewhere."

His assessment is spot on. Over the past two years Crayon's high-powered records have earned him a unique space within Nigeria's pop market. On his 2019 debut EP, the cheekily-titled Cray Cray, the musician shines over cohesive, bright production where he revels in finding pockets of joy in seemingly everyday material. His breakout record "So Fine" is built around the adorable promises of a lover to his woman. It's a fairly trite theme, but the 21-year-old musician's endearing voice strikes the beat in perfect form, and when the hook "call my number, I go respond, oh eh" rolls in, the mastery of space and time is at a level usually attributed to the icons of Afropop: Wizkid, P-Square, Wande Coal.

"My dad used to sell CDs back in the day, in Victoria Island [in Lagos]," reveals Crayon. "I had access to a lot of music: afrobeat, hip-hop, Westlife, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid, and many others." Crayon also learnt stage craft from his father's side hustle as an MC, who was always "so bold and confident," even in the midst of so much activity. His mother, then a fruit seller, loved Igbo gospel songs; few mornings passed when loud, worship songs weren't blasting from their home. All of these, Crayon says, "are a mix of different sounds and different cultures that shaped my artistry."

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