Making Africa
Continent of contemporary design

Oct. 1, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017 This exhibition has ended
Omar Victor Diop, »Mame«, Fotografie aus der Serie/ photograph from the series »The Studio of Vanities«, 2013 © Victor Omar Diop, 2014, Courtesy Magnin-A Gallery, Paris
This autumn the Kunsthal Rotterdam throws new light on contemporary African design. ‘Making Africa’ presents work by more than 120 artists and designers. This young generation of thinkers and makers, with their experimental approach and fluent use of new media, introduces the world to a new vision of Africa. These creative minds often work at the same time in different disciplines and welcome the opportunity to break with existing conventions. ‘Making Africa’ provides a surprising, amusing and lively picture, with design in the widest sense of the word.

The eyewear designs by the Kenyan Cyrus Kabiru are made from objects he finds in the street, from sponges to screws. His C-stunners show is that our view of the world – including Africa – is blinkered. There are furniture designs, such as the colourful, two-legged Sansa armchairs by Cheick Diallo from Mali, made of knotted nylon fishing line. The exhibition also presents architecture by Francis Kéré, David Adjaye and Kunlé Adeyemi,as well as remarkable cardboard city models by Bodys Isek Kingelez; animation art by the South African Robin Rhode; and urban fashion photography of young people in search of their identity by the Mozambican Mário Macilau.

Mário Macilau, »Alito, The Guy with Style«, from the »Moments of Transition« series, 2013, photograph, photo: © Mário Macilau, courtesy Ed Cross Fine Art Ltd, London

There are at present some 650 million mobile phones in booming Africa – more than in the USA or Europe. Most of these devices have internet access, a gateway to the world that is of fundamental importance for the present-day transformation of Africa and a great influence on the work of artists and designers. ‘Making Africa’ shows how design is related to the economic and political changes of the African continent and even contributes to these changes. Besides contemporary design, there are also examples of magazines and photographs from the 1960s. The comparison shows how the young generation often deliberately refers to work from these early years of African independence and recovers the positive, self-assured feeling of the time.

Exhibition catalogue

The comprehensive and richly illustrated catalogue ‘Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design’ is published by the Vitra Design Museum and is on sale in the Kunsthal shop for € 69,90 (ISBN 978-3-931936-52-5).


On Sunday 2 October there are various performances, workshops, guided tours, music, food and dance, including storytelling by the dramatist Ogutu Muraya, a fashion show by Lady Africa, and teasers for the Afrovibes Festival all day long.

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