africa is now 2015 – a design indaba project




in its second edition, design indaba project ‘africa is now 2015’ introduces five dynamic art collectives from angola, egypt, senegal and kenya — who are producing some of the most exciting work across the african continent. a central feature of the design indaba expo in cape town from february 27th to march 1st, 2015, the exhibition shifts our focus from products instead to the people and processes behind their creation.


greater online connectivity and exposure to outside movements, cultures and influences has fueled the formation of creative communities. in cairo, dakar, luanda and nairobi, artists, filmmakers, designers and architects are reaching out to one another and organizing themselves into groups to engage in discussion and learn from each other — collaborating and impacting society around them. ‘africa is now 2015’ presents five groups that embody a new generation of outspoken, urban creatives: beyond entropy africa and colectivo pés descalços from angola; darb 1718 from egypt; les petites pierres from senegal; and the nest from kenya. while some are more established than others, they share a number of characteristics that suggest the emergence of a multi-disciplinary creative class that is not waiting for government or foreign support to come to their aid. their members are doing what they can with their innate creativity and the resources they have to initiate projects, commission work, broaden their skills and promote the power of art and design.

africa is now design indaba designboom
les petite pierres fashion show production


each collective has its own creative proclivity, but what binds them all is a spirit of independence and the desire to make their craft matter to everyday life in their community. each one has been formed outside of the traditional networks of government-funded programmes, national festivals, museums and academic institutions. they embrace newer kinds of expression such as street and performance art, comics, music videos and fashion films, and find an audience through informal channels such as pop-up markets, street festivals and social media. their members are cosmopolitan and outward-looking, defying repressive legislation even if it means state harassment.
street art activities by les petites pierres
image © SMKANDJI / skillzography




‘africa is now 2015’ presents a curated selection of projects by these groups through objects, videos and photography. sharing their stories in discussions at the expo’s events arena are representatives from each group: reem hatem sharif, darb 1718’s communications manager; selly raby kane, fashion designer and president of les petites pierres; architects and founders of beyond entropy africa’s stefano rabolli pansera and paula nascimento, who is also a founding member of colectivo pés descalços; and sunny dolat, fashion stylist and events manager at the nest.

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selly raby kane, fashion designer and president of les petites pierres




les petites pierres is a large group of visual and performance artists who are ushering in a new wave of senegalese creativity. its members see the capital city of dakar as a ‘space of conviviality’ – the stage, canvas and meeting place for artists of different backgrounds to make their work as accessible as possible to everyday citizens. the group’s name – meaning ‘the small stones’ – alludes to its activist stance of using creativity ‘to change the world little by little, stone by stone; everyone is invited to contribute to build a common building.’


to catch a dream
the NEST collective





the NEST is a multidisciplinary art space that describes itself as the ‘home of nairobi’s alternative art thinkers’. its chico leco programme facilitates artistic collaborations and interventions such as fashion films with kenyan designers, stylists, photographers and directors. their HEVA project helps creative ventures in east africa achieve meaningful commercialisation by providing essential business skills and pragmatic action-oriented training. the NEST’s full-length narrative film depicting gay life in kenya, ‘the stories of our lives’, received worldwide acclaim when it debuted at the toronto international film festival in 2014.


stories of our lives trailer
the NEST collective


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darb 1718 collective’s headquarters in cairo, egypt





darb 1718 is a cairo-based arts and culture centre that promotes egypt’s burgeoning contemporary art movement. it supports, cultivates and sustains the art scene through educational workshops, exhibitions, concerts, festivals, independent film screenings and arts activities. darb 1718 provides local artists with opportunities for international exposure and invites foreign artists to experience egyptian culture and share their knowledge. anchored in its surrounding neighbourhood of fustat, rife with poverty and unemployment, the centre engages the local community through outreach programmes.

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photography by darb 1718 artist sherine mohamed documenting life in egypt


africa is now design indaba designboom
photography by darb 1718 artist sherine mohamed documenting life in egypt


africa is now design indaba designboom colectivo pés descalços discussion in-progress




colectivo pés descalços (portuguese for ‘barefoot collective’) is a nascent arts and culture collective, also based in luanda, that develops and promotes cultural and educational projects. working across disciplines, it provides a forum for artists to learn from each other, holds panel discussions and connects locals to resources and opportunities in the art world in africa and further afield.

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beyond entropy africa explores ‘musseques’ in angola




beyond entropy africa is an angolan architecture agency that conducts in-depth research into the city of luanda’s urban fabric – in particular, its ‘musseques’ (informal settlements). the agency has made a series of bold proposals that argue for a response to urban development in africa that is in keeping with everyday people’s lived realities. it is the african arm of the larger network of beyond entropy, whose interests stretch across the globe to areas of territorial crisis.

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‘musseques’ (informal settlement) research by beyond entropy africa


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floorplan of a ‘musseques’





these five groups are examples of a wider movement of african collectives that includes: morocco’s l’apartement 22, which promotes art in the country’s capital, rabat, through exhibitions, artist residencies and other projects; raw materials company, a centre for art, knowledge and society in dakar, senegal; the centre for contemporary art, lagos, a platform for the development of contemporary visual arts and culture in nigeria; picha, an art centre in lubumbashi, democratic republic of congo that supports musicians, artists and writers; doual’art in cameroon, which invites visual artists, architects and designers to create public installations; and kenya’s pawa254, which harnesses creativity to foster social change.


visit the ‘africa is now’ exhibition on the design indaba expo floor and meet the artists at the events arena on saturday, february 28th at 12:30PM and sunday, march 1st 13:30PM.




design indaba
is a multifaceted platform committed to a better world through creativity. the south-african online publication hosts an annual festival and social impact do tank in cape town. the design indaba festival has been created by ravi naidoo in 1995, with focus on african and global creativity, through the lens of the work and ideas of leading thinkers and doers, opinion formers, trendsetters and industry experts.