At the start of the 21st century, major shifts in global power structures coincide – and possibly correlate – with a mounting discussion around the potential of design. The Vitra Design Museum’s current exhibition »Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design« suggests that African design and art can make a unique contribution to this discussion. To delve deeper into this subject matter, the Vitra Design Museum brings together prominent thinkers and designers from the Global North and the Global South for a day of discussions and lectures.
The speakers explore pertinent areas of contemporary design discourse such as the future of production, social design and the merger of analogue and digital technologies. The question at hand: Can concepts that originate outside our traditional, Western-centric understanding of design offer an entirely new perspective and perhaps more relevant approaches in addressing today’s challenges?
This video presents the discussion panel to the first part of the symposium, “The future of production”, with Peter Mabeo, Mario Minale, Ville Kokkonen and Tahir Karmali. It is moderated by Amelie Klein.
Peter Mabeo is a furniture manufacturer based in Botswana who has collaborated with international contemporary designers such as Patricia Urquiola and Claesson Koivisto Rune on sustainable, humanely produced pieces and interior design projects that celebrate African craft heritage and support local craft economies.
Mario Minale is one half of the up-and-coming Rotterdam-based Studio Minale Maeda. The studio is interested in the effects of
consumerism and design’s potential to improve quality of life, as well as the possibilities of both mass-production and skilled craftsmanship. The studio has collaborated with a variety of companies and craftsmen, from the likes of Droog and Skitsch to traditional weavers and upholsterers in Italy and porcelain crafters in Japan.
Kenyan-born photographer and mixed-media artist Tahir Karmali lives and works in New York. In his collages, he explores the methods and strategies employed in the do-it-yourself and maker culture of East Africa. Based on an intricate, self-organizing community of largely informally trained mechanics, welders and woodworkers, among others, it is a fascinating phenomenon born out of necessity.
Amelie Klein is a curator at the Vitra Design Museum. Her most recent curatorial work is the current exhibition »Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design«, which brings together the work of 120 designers, illustrating how design is accompanying – and even promoting – economic and political change on the African continent.