Defiance by Design: Chaz Maviyane-Davies

Chaz-Maviyane-Davies

As a student, it was difficult to learn about African graphic designers, let alone ones concerned with channelling the power of design for good. I remember the excitement I experienced when I finally discovered Chaz Maviyane-Davies.

Here was somebody creating striking, clever and provocative work. Challenging several perceptions at the same time:

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Inspired: Boucherouite rugs from Morocco

Boucherouite-rugs

I was browsing Design*Sponge when I saw these beautiful Boucherouite rugs from Morocco. Made from leftover scraps of fabric and other materials, as wool became more rare and expensive, the result is spontaneous and unique designs. Read more about them and see more images here.

This reminds me of a great Ted Talk where researcher Charles Leadbeater talks about how innovation usually takes place where resources are too scarce for traditional solutions to work*. Afrigadget is another great example of the power of ingenuity where resources aren't always abundant.

*It's a fantastic talk about reimagining education and I highly recommend giving it a view!
Images from Brix Picks 

Quote of the week & a question for readers

Blooming-cabbage

“If you really want to understand a culture, don’t look to the things people argue about but, instead try to understand the things they take for granted.”

Lawrence Lessig, quoted in Bruce Mau's book Massive Change: A Manifesto for the Future Global Design Culture

If we were to generalise and talk of one African culture, what things do we take for granted?
 

Self, love and enterprise: Asilia

We-are-Asilia

Last week, weareasilia.com launched. The product of a successful working partnership with a friend, a commitment by both of us to do what we love and, in many ways, the cumulation of our respective experience, learning and ambitions up to this point.

My favourite part of launch preparation, aside from knowing that my passion for creating and communicating is what will sustain me, was putting together our credo. Defining our own rules and creating the opportunity for ourselves to do things differently.

From our 'informal' work culture … our team resides in different locations with 2 out of 3 of us working from home. That means that we have incredible flexibility, making it easier to balance work and life. My business partner and I probably do work longer hours than we did when employed but, because we enjoy it and because it's on our own terms, it feels less like work and more like an enjoyable pastime. To our firm stance when it comes to working with people who share our values. We have already had to turn down clients who we felt were not considerate enough for us to be able to successfully work together in achieving their goals. It was a difficult decision but, when we weighed the stress we'd have to go through against the value the experience would add to us – as people and as a business – it wasn't worth it.

One thing I do wonder about is when the test will come that will threaten to compromise our values and our approach. I try to imagine what form it will take. Will it be a project that will seem too good to refuse, only for us to discover the hidden costs to our wellbeing (and that of others)? Will it be the otherwise amazing client who expects to see us in suits?

I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes: "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."

Thoreau testifying that not staying true to yourself may have unsavoury consequences.

Asilia is just that. An opportunity for me to be myself and give others the opportunity to assert themselves, spread their gifts and share their passions with the world. There is a school of thought that believes that enterprise, business, is the most effective path to development. I'm inclined to agree with the proviso that we're talking about considered and considerate business. Considerate to all involved: staff, suppliers, customers, clients, users, contractors, family, environment and never forgetting, self. Then we're looking at the whole picture of development.

Imagine a continent of self-loving, considerate and enterprising Africans …

 

Images: the Asilia team – Kevin, Lulu and Andrew. Illustrations by Lulu, copyright Asilia.

Swaziland Independence Day

Swazi candles

The Kingdom of Swaziland celebrates its independence today.

Interesting fact: Traditionally, the Swazi king reigns along with his mother who serves as the spiritual and national head of state with power of equal measure. However, now the role is merely symbolic.

I remember seeing some beautiful candles in Nairobi, Kenya, that were imported from Swaziland. I came to find out that Swazi candles are actually world-famous. Made by hand, no two candles are ever the same. The images below show some candles made by Swazi Candles.

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Maker Faire Africa: 27th – 28th August, Nairobi

Maker-Faire-Africa-2010

The anticipated Maker Faire Africa takes place this Friday and Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya.

The programme sounds exciting with Solar Makers, Crafting Peace and Business 101 workshops, along with Show & Tell sessions, live matching as well as an exhibit and unconference that run throughout both of the days. The ethos of the event is captured well in the following excerpt from the program:

"The spirit of Making is all about breaking things apart to better undertand them (and build something even more useful), so that’s what we want you to do with our faire: make it what you need."

Can't make it to Nairobi this week? You can still help Match a Maker and give inventors an opportunity to take their work to the next level.

Be sure to check out this interview with the Maker Faire Africa founder, Emeka Okafor. Maker Faire Africa aims to question: “How do we regain our creativity? How do we redefine what we mean by a society that is advanced?”

Indeed that's the kind of interrogation Afri-love exists to champion: how do we use our unique gifts to chart our own paths, appropriate to our unique needs and aspirations?

Images above by Erik Hersman (aka @whiteafrican) except for the fan image which is courtesy of Maneno.org. For more pictures, check out Maker Faire Africa on Flickr

African album art

I recently purchased Cheikh-Lo's Lamp Fall album – which is brilliant by the way – and one thing that makes the experience complete is the beautiful album art and design. There are a lot of African albums with great art and design and, whether the artists and designers themselves are African or not, the inspiration clearly is. Here's a celebration of that inspiration with just a sprinkling of some great album covers.

African-album-art-1

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