IKEA & AFRICAN DESIGNERS

THE RETAILER GIANT, IKEA, ENLISTS DISTINGUISHED LINEUP OF AFRICAN DESIGNERS FOR ITS 2019 FLAGSHIP COLLECTION

Black people are lit, but i bet you already know! The retail giant, IKEA, has recruited top African designers to collaborate with in the companies global platform. 

The creative explosion which is taking place in several cities around Africa right now is something IKEA is curious about. We want to learn from this and spread it to the rest of the world.

Ikea opened its 392nd store in 2016, spread across 48 countries, and saw its annual revenue pass $35 billion for the first time. Preliminary designs are slated to be on display at the 22nd Design Indaba conference in Cape Town.  Works from Rwanda architect, Christian Benimana, as well as Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane, among others which include leading fashion designers, architects, and illustrators, are expected to be on display.

The project got off the ground through a chance meeting between Engman and Ravi Naidoo, founder of the creative hub Design Indaba, which holds an annual conference showcasing the best of African design. The two men discussed an Africa range, and Naidoo supplied a list of talents from the Indaba alumni network, covering a range of disciplines from Rwandan architect Christian Benimana to Senegalese fashion designer Selly Raby Kane. Over the following months, the designers worked separately to develop pieces for the collection, coming together for Skype meetings with each other and Ikea's in-house design team. The designers were invited to a brainstorming session in the woods of Almhult, Ikea's headquarters in Sweden. The final collection is said to include about 40 pieces. 

The whole world needs a bit of Africa,” says Naidoo. “The African aesthetic is not terribly visible in homes around the world.”
African design “has so much to do with an alternative way of looking at the world,” he says, giving the example of homes designed to be open and enable interaction with the street.
”The expansion of the porch is an interesting concept for how we can invoke a greater sense of community.
— Naidoo

Naidoo expects the collection to change attitudes within the industry. "Ikea is a kind of a bellwether company in the world of design. It won't be too long before other design companies are emboldened enough to commission African designers," he says. "I see this as a start," he says. "We are constantly searching for new talent, and there is a lot of talent in Africa."

"A local process can generate something for the international community," he says. "Japanese minimalism once inspired a lot of design projects and the philosophy permeated the design community. Certain approaches in many urban African environments could benefit or contaminate the international world of design."

Not because I am African, but because I am and African and aware; there is so much talent and creativity that is yet to be harnessed due to obvious reasons like funds and a platform; but what seems to be the trend is People from other countries coming in and poaching our creative minefield and taking them away for what seems to be like exploitation wrapped under the cloth of exposure and collaborations for our better good. Will the government learn? Will they engage resourceful youths for the nation's development? Will they keep letting immigrants own viable companies and platforms employing their own citizens and occupying their lands?