Our Time is Now! Afrika Design Day

PADI shared a powerful message with the design community,
Afrika and the world. The message was, ‘Our time is now!’

By Vikki Du Preez

Design Theory and History Lecturer,
Cape Peninsula University of Technology

Prof_Des_PADIADD2020

On Friday evening, 21 February 2020 at Design Assemblage in Johannesburg, South Africa, PADI shared a powerful message with the design community, Afrika and the world. The message was, ‘Our time is now!’

The evening formed part of the first Afrika Design Week, initiated by PADI, from the 17th to 21st February, which included a number of local events and presentations across the continent. Afrika Design Week celebrate the power of design to change the lives of every human, and the responsibility of designers to contribute to this. The diversity, creativity, tenacity and originality of Afrikan designers was showcased. The evening was electric, the space filled to capacity, with the former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and his wife (Gugu Motlanthe) in attendance.

Design works from Greenside Design Centre and University of Johannesburg students were exhibited throughout the space, showcasing what the next generation of creatives are producing. The works of a Ghanaian design professional – Simon Charwey was also exhibited through PowerPoint presentation. The evening also included a spectacular performance by the Creative Arts for Youth of Atteridgeville (CAYA) orchestra.

“Afrika Design Week celebrate the power of design to change
the lives of every human, and the responsibility of designers
to contribute to this.”

During the Johannesburg event various PADI members shared their stories, experiences and hopes for Afrika. Prof Des Laubscher (Interim Chair of the Pan African Institute of Design) opened the event with a reflective message about what design has meant to him, and his belief that Afrikan designers must lead global discussions and practice. Saki Mafundikwa (Zimbabwe) took the audience on a journey through Afrikan symbolism and his experience as a visual communicator and typographer. His message reminded the audience of the power of our history and a return to tradition and ecological systems. Other presenters of the evening included Johnathon Strebly, Jonas Liugaila and Zinia Nizar they are the president and vice-presidents of the International Council of Design (ico-D), respectively.

Felix Ofori Dartey, Deputy President of PADI, led a panel discussion with international experts from ico-D (Ana Masut), the IID members (Juliet Kavishe and Robyn Self), PADI members: Saki Mafundikwa (Zimbabwe), Sam Nii Adjaidoo (Ghana) and Peter Ekanem (Nigeria). The discussion framed the role of design in Afrika and how designers can contribute to both continental and global design discourse and practice. The future of Afrikan design was positioned as a leading practice in the realms of social development, service delivery, sustainability and practice that celebrates culture and diversity. Many discussions, presentations and conversations of the evening were focused on one thing – that the time for Afrikan design is now! And that it will be, and must be, Afrikan designers who showcase our continent, our creativity and our people to the world.

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