Last month on the blog, I started to tackle that contentious question of what constitutes 'African'. There was no definitive conclusion of course but, instead, several other questions on the path to addressing the one. Recent events have brought me back to reflecting upon one of the points of discussion – the issue of limiting labels.
Asilia – the creative agency I co-own – creates design and digital products and services to empower people to make things happen. While we are quite selective when it comes to who we will work with, the criteria has more to do with our client's values rather than their background. Nevertheless, many have often assumed that we only work on African projects. Sure, the company is led by Africans and among our 10 employees – 4 are Brits. We do have an office in Nairobi, along with our London one. Yes, many of our clients to date have had some connection to Africa, but our roster also includes clients in or connected to Australia, Brazil, Japan, Switzerland, the UK and the US. People have commented that our aesthetic has a certain Africanness to it and that it true … when it comes to projects that call for it.
The fountain that overflows (not the cistern that merely contains)
As I affirmed in the aforementioned post:
I am proud to be associated with my heritage because it does define who I am. As a key piece of my identity, it informs my outlook and this outlook is going to be evident in some way, large or indeed very very small, in what I produce and/or how I produce it. But so will all the other pieces of my identity and experience.
However, I appreciate that it can become a professional hazard when others perceive you in a way that unnecessarily removes options and opportunities from the table. Even worse if when they then apply prejudices that they associate with 'people like you'.
The good news
And that is why I'm over the moon with some of the great things that have happened for me and for Asilia this month. Events that have showcased us in a mainstream light besides our universal peers.
- An interview on Design Week, a major UK industry publication whose website is read by designers the world over (thanks to Jon Daniel, author of the "Four Corners" column. Check out the other great designers he's interviewed, including Gail Anderson and Safi Mafundikwa).
- A nomination for the British Council Creative Business Cup (voting closes at the end of this Wednesday, 26th June. If you like what we're doing, we'd love your vote!).
It seems that everywhere I turn, the people I love and support are receiving such great news. According to my friend, Sirena (and the stars), June is indeed a lucky month and along with celebrating the good news, we should also be initiating new things.
What good news do you have to share this month? And what do you have cooking?
- The Best of Both Worlds: Asilia's New Site Goes Live! – How the month began
- Is it African? Questions of Aesthetics, Authenticity and Classification
- Screening Perception: Limiting Expectations for African Cinema
Don't miss an installment – different ways to get your Afri-love delivered. You can also stay up to date by liking the Afri-love Facebook page or following Afri-love (@afrilove) on Twitter or on Google+.
Check out my many Africa-related Pinterest boards covering the arts, design, music and more.
Subscribe for monthly updates with Afri-love highlights and developments, as well as info on interesting events, must-reads and more for you to check out elsewhere.