In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk on the Danger of the Single Story, she explains the dangers of perpetuating stereotypes in regards to the common misconception of Africa as a rural wasteland filled with poverty and despair. In it, she calls for stories that aim at empowering and humanizing cultures. British Zimbabwean Tapiwa Matsinde represents that paradigmatic shift. Mistuned is a designer, consultant, the blogger behind lifestyle blog Atelier Fifty-Five, and author of the new book Contemporary Design Africa.
Contemporary Design Africa aims at breaking the stereotypes of what African design is perceived to be — past the wood carvings and masks often associated with African artwork. In the book, she explores Africa’s creative economy and profiles designers from around the continent and the diaspora who have made notable contributions to design and innovation. This is a sharp contrast from the frequent anonymity of African artists among international audiences.
Published by Thames & Hudson in May 2015, the book lists fifty African interior designers from different countries. Contemporary Design Africa includes the award-winning South African ZENZULU, Nigerian textile designer Banke Kuku, and Cheick Diallo, the founder of the African Designers Association who makes recycled furniture. The designers are listed according to basketry, craft, metalwork, textiles, ceramics, furniture, and lighting, and information on how to source their products is provided.
The positive response to the book, an inspiring collection of unique and diverse designers and their work, has spurred a deeper appreciation for the immense talent among African creatives on the continent and in the diaspora.