• An Industrial Designer in Africa

    Arts & Culture, Industrial Design

    I am an industrial designer and I love what I do but try explaining that at a cocktail party or exhibition opening when asked “what do you do?” It is is automatically assumed that I design only clothing or machines that perform at 500 rpm and top up bottles in a giant mechanical uterus of a factory. I am not a fashion designer although I sometimes design wearables and I am not a mechanical engineer. I am a post industrial designer (just to be more confusing) and on stating this I see the glazed and confused looks slowly cover their eyes and receptive antennae. More importantly, my training centred on Industrial Design in a post-industrial world and the evolution of the traditional forms of Industrial Design which looks at people, objects and spaces in a completely different light from how design in the industrial age did. Post Industrial Design examines the relationships, impact, after-life and evolution of objects. It is filled with questions that probe, expand and reduce the significance of the object even before it has been made. Usability, feasibility, compatibility with the user and the environment are also considered and now more than ever, what happens to the remains of the object after it has kicked the bucket. We live in a service driven economy and designers are needed to streamline the functioning and lifecycles of systems and industry. Design is needed to get brands recognised and to give an alternative view to how we live and our perceived notions of normalcy. “Sounds like a new age cult” my friend joked and I realised that this was a bigger barrier than I had anticipated. I am now working on a series of dolls titled Decoded, which would act as substitutes thus preventing the scarification of children in tribal marking ceremonies. I don’t see it as a finite solution but as a platform for awareness and discourse concerning the rights of children, self-esteem and exactly what the preservation of tradition means to the families and societies with or without these facial markings. Let’s call it social design for now. It is a long journey, but as Dan Eldon’s book is rightly titled, The Journey is the Destination.

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