From furniture showrooms to architecture circles, African design from the sub-Saharan region is asserting its creative prowess. Here, we explore an emerging talent, an award-winning furniture piece and a stunning work of architecture from the region.
1 Peter Mabeo
Through his eponymous design brand, manufacturer and distributor Peter Mabeo has made it his mission to bring “a uniquely African sensibility” to the global design scene, emplying countless craftspeople in the process. Hit releases have included Garth Roberts’ Seri series of solid-wood tables, stools and containers, distinguished by intricate edging hand-carved by artisans in Botswana, Mabeo’s home country. More recently, French designer Inès Bressand’s sleek Lebone lamps, showcased in Milan this spring, feature sheet-metal bodies and shades, their surfaces hand-beaten in the manner of traditional forgers.
2 Dundun Coffee Table
“The revival of African design sometimes risks being interpreted with preconceptions,” says Studio Lani founder Lani Adeoye, whose sculptural furniture, inspired by her Nigerian roots, is anything but cliché. Take her bent-metal Dundun coffee table, which evokes West African talking drums in a sophisticated, unhackneyed way. Adeoye’s originality is being noticed. Earlier this year, her Sisi Eko floor lamp won a European Product Design Award. Its “alluring form,” the judges said, “creates its unique identity.”
3 Lagos Wooden Tower
Sir David Adjaye, the Ghanaian-British powerhouse, may be the best-known African-born architect working today. But a new generation of practitioners is hot on his heels. One of the most promising is Hermann Kamte, founder and CEO of HKA, based in Cameroon. Kamte has a penchant for large-scale timber structures: The tower pictured here – shortlisted for a site in Lagos, Nigeria – boasts an LVL frame enshrouded by a vivid brise-soleil. Although it wasn’t ultimately picked, the building marks the 26-year-old as an architect to watch, maybe even a powerhouse-in-the-making.