LONDON, ENGLAND.-As part of Africa 05, the Brunei Gallery (SOAS) is presenting Design Made in Africa, a selection of 45 objects by 30 designers from 14 African countries. The first major exhibition of contemporary African design ever shown in the UK, Design Made in Africa was produced in 2004 by the Association Française dAction Artistique (AFAA) and Saint-Etienne Métropole for the SIAO (International Arts and Crafts Fair in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso) and the Saint-Etienne International Design Biennale. For almost ten years, Afrique en Créations, part of the AFAA since 2000, has had a leading role in promoting contemporary African design at the DakArt Biennale. A series of workshops organised in Dakar between September and October 2003 by Ousseynou Wade, DakArt Secretary General, and Céline Savoye, designer and curator, as well as the visit of Michel Buisson, funding manager and liaison officer for design schools at the VIA (Valorisation of Innovation in Furnishing) in Paris, gave the impetus for a more ambitious project on the scale of the African continent. A call was made, inviting African designers or those practicing on the continent to submit some of their work in view of a major exhibition that would: promote African design to local and international editors and distributors, initiate or strengthen links between designers, groups of craftsmen, and small businesses, confirm or reveal existing talents in Africa, introduce the international audience to African creativeness and contemporaneousness.
With the help of a panel, presided by Samuel Sidibé, Director of the National Museum of Mali in Bamako, the curators Céline Savoye and Michel Buisson gathered a unique selection of interior and urban objects addressing and responding to present day lifestyles in Africa. Alongside the exhibition is planned a series of talks by Ethiopian designer Fasil Giorghis, currently leading a restauration project in Axum, and Kenyan artist Magdalene Odundo (other speaker to be confirmed). A bilingual catalogue (French/English) with texts by Chab Touré, Dion Chang and Karim Sergoua and the designers biographies has been published to accompany this show. Created in two sets to tour in the South (Africa) and North (Europe and America), Design Made in Africa London tour is coordinated by Christine Eyene, independent curator, with the support of AFAA and Prince Claus Fund, among other sponsors. The show will then go to Montréal and New York in 2006.