A Liveable Ode To African Design: IKEA Överallt
While many have wrestled with presenting African design WITHOUT PRINTS, when it comes to furniture design and all things homeware, we have a RICH CULTURE to celebrate with items that are seemingly mundane but highly unique to us.
A good example is the straw brooms that could be heard rhythmically sweeping courtyards in villages at the break of dawn in many homes across the continent. For African creatives in particular, the ability to draw from and express our cultural nuances through what we create and offer it up to be enjoyed by the world on elevated platforms is an opportunity of a lifetime which we all have. IKEA has looked to African designers to deliver an African inspired collection which IKEA explains as being, "all about building bridges and not walls, ultimately creating room for better habits together."
When we first got word of IKEA dropping the African inspired Homeware Collection called Överallt, the simple yet fundamental hope that many Africans silently held as yet another International brand set out to commercialize our diverse cultures was this: That it should go beyond exploring the superficial African aesthetic and if anything, the materials used should weave together cultural conversations about what we can offer the world of design. With the reveal of the collection at the 2019 Design Indaba, it is as if the beautiful minds of creatives from 5 different African countries heard our silent hopes and brought them into form through a collection that offers a refreshing approach to what is traditionally considered African design.
The brief (African rituals meet Scandi) by the Swedish native furniture giant was given to ten esteemed designers from different creative disciplines hailing from Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. To highlight one is to highlight all of them as they are conceptually strong, sustainability has been considered and the collection as a whole is just damn beautiful!
As Miranda Unwin explains, "Issa Diabaté produced a simple plywood chair that assembles like a jigsaw, without the need for any extras like glue or screws. Its simple practicality “reflects the African approach to living outdoors and indoors.”
Laduma Ngxokolo’s bright geometric-patterned rugs mimic the designs seen on his knitwear clothing line Maxhosa which draws inspiration from the Xhosa culture.
Bethan Rayner and Naeem Biviji of Studio Propolis designed a range of flexible cooking and dining products, including a stool and bench that can easily be grouped together or used alone, and a cast iron pot with a lid that doubles as a pan.
As we have learned through Marie Kondo, self-expression and what we decide to consciously keep in our homes, have to be the primary inspiration behind the decision to purchase items beyond their functional value. The IKEA Överallt Homeware Collection will be available in May 2019 and offers you and I the opportunity to have a home that makes it possible to support local talent.
So the next time you host friends and family and prepare your Sunday “seven colours lunch” prepared in a set of cast iron pots and a conversation is sparked by your patterned Maxhosa inspired rug, in that moment your home will be a liveable ode to African design and culture.