Four Resource-Driven Eccentric African furniture Designers to know

September 25, 2016 | Dynamicafrica



Sourcing ‘pre-loved’ furniture, vibrant fabrics and recycled items for most of his work, British-Nigerian furniture designer Yinka Ilori specializes in up-cycling vintage furniture, giving discarded objects new life through his specialized designs. Much of his inspiration comes from inhabiting various cultural spaces such as traditional Nigerian parables and African fabrics that he was exposed to growing up, and the Western shapes and frames that inform his work. With each piece of furniture comes a story that can be shared throughout the world. He has also collaborated with pioneering South African knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo, known for his Xhosa-inspired garments, creating a a unique marriage of textile and furniture design.

Speaking to Mr. Porter about his work, Ilori said:

“Chairs reflect who we are as individuals and we form relationships with them without even knowing it. If we look at human relationships, we don’t instantly trust people in the way we trust a chair, which is funny but true. Chairs have phenomenal stories to tell. Each one has been sat on by so many people we may never come across. That’s the beauty of storytelling through them. I can unravel those stories and then incorporate my own.”



Owner of Studio Hamed Ouattara in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Ouattara both tasks and prides himself on making quality furniture from pre-existing materials that speaks to a greater narrative of design and resourcefulness that exists throughout the continent. 

In his own words, “My goal is to provide a key point in a continent which suffers from imports and all kinds of imitation furniture, especially of poor quality and which does not reflect our culture.

[The] African continent suffers from imports…which do not reflect our culture. My work makes a difference in people’s living room[s] and modern African sound design.” 




Marrying the conventional and unconventional through his mixture of shapes, materials, form and purpose, Malian architect and designer Cheick Diallo is known for his signature and unique take on modernist furniture. Sticking to his eco-friendly approach, Diallo’s consciousness is rooted in refamiliarizing the familiar, ‘I don’t have an interest in design if it is only to remake that which already exists.’



Another designer focusing on up-cycling, Dakar-based designer Ousmane M’Baye had his foray into the world of design come through working as a refrigerator repair man for almost two decades. Influenced by what he saw in peoples’ homes, his experimentation with steel and iron parts led to him designing furniture.

“Some like to call what I am doing African Art, or primitive. I call it design, providing a casual object a soul. To make an everyday object beautiful, to move past simple functionality to give it a spirit, an attitude, a direction – that’s defining design, to me,” explains Ousmane M'Baye


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