Featured workAlassane Drabo: Gourde Protectrice

Designed by the Burkinan artist and designer Alassane Drabo, the lamp Gourde Protectrice is both a useful tool and an honest tribute to an ubiquitous item in many rural areas of Africa.

The versatile and traditional calabash, used mostly as a food container, is reappropriated by Drabo as a lamp base and shade, in what is probably the first time this round, bulbous pot has been used as a lampshade. The designer transforms a traditional African object into a commodity of contemporary western desk culture. Beyond the transformation of objects, what Drabo seeks to show is the shift in societies and the biographies of their protagonists: the transformation of village communities shaped by agriculture into urban service societies and of a small girl, fed out of a calabash, into an office worker in a sparkling crystal palace. This development is overly simplified; however, the circle closed by Drabo’s lamp is enlightening – in both senses.

  • Aluminium, metal, gourd, 67 × 15 × 40 cm © Archives Musée Dapper, Photo by Dominique Cohas

    Alassane Drabo. Gourde Protectrice, 2006