Africa and the Avante Garde

3030 Words13 Pages
The term African Design can be interpreted by different people according to personal feelings and emotions. Designers would refer to the aesthetics of a design whereas illustrators or fashion experts may argue that the traditional African patterns and shapes is what gives it an African feel (Fourie, 2012). Either way one looks at it, African Design boils down to how the various African cultures are represented through each product. By analyzing traditional rituals and art pieces as well as comparing them to contemporary South African designs, this paper will assess the role of vivid history and traditions on contemporary designs. We will also touch on the subject of how traditional African art and artifacts can easily loose their uniqueness when taken out of context. On a visit to the 2013 Design Indaba, my partner and I conducted various interviews with local designers such as Stuart Douglas and Willard Musarurwa to hear some of their personal feelings on African design and whether or not they view their own work as Avant Garde. Apart from selecting products from the indaba we looked at work from the likes of Georg van Gass of Goet Design, Leon van Rooyan of Van de Vlam’s and also a new range of satirical pot plants by the talented Magda van der Vloed. Through reflecting on modern examples, we aim to explore local designs which represent the spirit of the Avant Garde, and focus on exactly how they achieve this by remaining identifiably African. In order to do this one needs to understand the history behind the Avant Garde and how this trend setting style came about. The Avant Garde is a French term originally used as a military term which meant advanced guard which was to be the dominant group on the front line in war fare (Words of the World, 2010). Now it usually the term represents art, music or literature which works against convention (Krauss, 1986: 43). It

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