Behind the design – Graphic Africa

Graphic Africa, our exhibition for London Design Festival, is launching at Platform on 14 September. Meet more of the designers taking part…

Imiso (South Africa)
Andile Dyalvane and Zizipho Poswa are the winning team behind the Imiso Ceramics Studio. Located in a buzzing Woodstock atelier, Imiso is known for its handmade collectors’ items and exquisite functional ceramic ware. The Xhosa word ‘imiso’ means tomorrow, and their designs are distinctly African, with a future-minded edge, drawing inspiration from local culture, tradition and nature. In addition to their store at the Old Biscuit Mill, their products are stocked at a wide variety of independent retailers, with the bulk of their exports going to New York, London, Paris and Milan.

Kpando Pottery (Ghana)
Inspired by the passion of designer Joseph Nii Noi Dowuona, 70 talented Ghanaian women shape rich clay into striking contemporary pieces featuring sensual, organic forms and tactile surface detailing. Kpando Pottery is named after the region known for distinctive pottery made by local women. 

The business grew out of the Aid to Artisans’ Ghana project and now exports its innovative designs to Europe and North America. 

The clay is shaped without a potter’s wheel. The unique black patina finish is created by firing the pieces over a bamboo bonfire instead of using a clay oven.

Marjorie Wallace (Zimbabwe)
A graduate in painting from Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town, Marjorie Wallace is a gifted ceramic artist who produces fine porcelain objects which she scratches, presses and incises with linear designs and decoration. ‘I have loved baskets since I was quite young. I have memories of the people who made them, how they sat and where they collected the grass – what they were looking for when they collected it. We had baskets hanging on the wall in the house, and we used them,’ she says. ‘When I started decorating pottery I thought more and more about baskets, how they look and how they are woven. I saw my task as being no different from the basket makers.’

Babacar M’Bodj Niang (Senegal)
Babacar M’Bodj Niang’s designs are as abundant as they are spectacularly multiform – from tables with fragile bowed legs that look like a giraffe taking its first steps, to moulded and plaited leather chairs with a pagan West African sensuality. The adventure of Nulangee Design began about 12 years ago when Niang began working with wood and improbable shapes, combining it with various materials – either recuperated or natural (wood, leather, horn, fish skin) – to create objects charged with identity. Today Nulangee’s contemporary furniture and fashion accessories are distributed throughout the world for the pleasure of fans and collectors.

Ronél Jordaan (South Africa)
Inspired by the fluency and serenity of nature, Ronél Jordaan uses natural fibres, mostly 100 percent merino wool, to create her imaginative collection of rock cushions, pebble ‘riverbed’ carpets, delicately nuanced ‘falling leaves’ wall hangings, floral patterned throws and more. Entirely self-taught and following her own creative instincts, she began to turn fine gossamer thread into robust felted forms, which found an immediate market. Her range is continually expanding, from accessories, scarves, shawls and wraps to household objects, carpets, lamps, and throws. Her label can be found in outlets in Canada, the US, London, Paris, through Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

Gone Rural (Swaziland)
An accredited World Fair Trade Organisation, Gone Rural fully embraces the new spirit of social and environmental awareness along with the creative spirit of about 750 rural Swazi women to create its covetable décor products. Inspired by the vision of designer Philippa Thorne, indigenous grass has been transformed into a globally sought after range of products. Innovative and soulful, Gone Rural’s exquisite range of homemade woven accessories is in constant development as innovative designs and techniques are introduced to keep things fresh and dynamic.

Sabahar (Ethiopia)
Sabahar produces hand woven textiles to wear and for the home. They buy local Eri silk cocoons from small farmers, and Ethiopian cotton in the markets, spin the silk and cotton, dye it and then hand weave the thread into beautiful textiles. A truly Ethiopian product, cared for by skilled artisans at each stage of the process, each piece is individually made by hand – hand spinning on drop spindles and spinning wheels, hand woven on traditional looms and many products are naturally dyed with flowers, trees, insects and plants. Sabahar create positive work opportunities within Ethiopia with a special emphasis on employment for women. They encourage high-quality traditional skills as a means to increase reliable income for households. Sabahar is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization and promote and respect fair trade principles. They sell their products in Ethiopia and export to more than 10 different countries.

Tekura Designs (Ghana)
Known for its contemporary interpretations of legendary Ashanti and Fanti cultural artistry, each of Tekura’s beautiful and functional furniture designs in wood is created by master artisans under the direction of Josephine and Kweku Forson. Tekura’s respect for heritage and quality of life extends to the environment, with pieces being produced exclusively from carefully selected wood found lying on the ground following reforestation. Tekura currently exports to the US, Canada, Holland, Brazil and the UK.

For more stories and adventures behind Habitat’s collections, click below…

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