In part 2 of this series, looking at designers being showcased through the Design Network Africa, we turned the spotlight on South African designers. Today, we broaden our scope to encompass other African countries including Ethiopia, Mali, Swaziland and Uganda.
Sabahar produces hand-woven homewares and apparel using Ethiopian Eri silk cocoons and cotton harvested from small local farms. They hand-spin the fibre on drop spindles, dye (often with natural dyes), and then hand-weave using traditional looms. A member of the World Fair Trade Organisation, Sabahar creates positive work opportunities within Ethiopia with a special emphasis on employment for women.
Cheick Diallo (Mali)
Cheick Diallo’s impeccable furniture and objects challenge common perceptions of African design with their mix of ancient wisdom and contemporary sensibility. A creative risk-taker, Diallo trained as an architect and designer in France, before establishing a studio in his home city. His team of artisans manufacture objects from everyday detritus – from bottle tops to old tyres. Diallo has exhibited at Milan and various international Design Biennales.
Gone Rural (Swaziland)
A leading social enterprise, Gone Rural embraces the spirit of social and environmental awareness, working with rural women to create covetable Fairtrade products. Designer Philippa Thorne has helped transform indigenous grass into globally sought-after, innovative and soulful hand-woven accessories. The range is in constant development with new designs and techniques continuously introduced to keep things fresh.
Mutuba produces fashion and home accessories crafted from an ecologically sustainable bark cloth made from the indigenous Ficus Natalenis, a fig tree which regenerates its bark and is harvested annually. Relegated to ceremonial functions and petty curios until trailblazer Sara Katebalirwe launched Matuba in the 1980’s they now produce over 50 contemporary designs, and offer training in tree planting, bark harvesting and production skills.