Absolutely Africa: Rising above relevance

If you’re on the continent Maximalism can be found everywhere. If you're a South African and you haven't seen it, you’re either blind folded or not looking. But hey, we’re here to help!

Ideas shouldn’t form out of thin air, especially as context is finally being recognised to become all the more relevant across design. If you’re thinking “it has always been important,” then you’re part of the few that not only appreciates it, but actually incorporates it. So for those who aren’t designers and would like to incorporate context on our continent instead of introducing international influence, here is something to note:

“Appropriation is appalling; awareness is appreciation.”

This is why we’re shifting the lens to the similarities between some local design examples today and Maximalism. It’s relevant, it deserves appreciation and therefore, we’d like to spread awareness.

What does it look like?

If it’s busy, bold, bright and filled with prints emerging from the African continent, it makes sense to refer to Maximalism. Other characteristics include layers, textures and abstract visuals, but with an extra pinch of flamboyant African flare! Moreover it’s already being applied to a variety of different industries.

Here’s how:

1. Fashion

Here we are referring to bands such as Ri.Ch Factory that hits the nail right on the head in this regard. Just look at founder and designer, Rina Kutama, in her self made Afro chic wedding dress as an example.

Kutama is known for her use of structure, unusual shapes, bursts of colour and traditional Zambian prints. According to her, “Ri.Ch Factory was created from a place of pride… African Pride. [...] Our message is simple, our melanin is popping and Africa isn’t (only) the future, Africa is now.”

More and more you’ll find international creatives, artists, designers and musicians drawing inspiration from Africa. Don’t believe us? Ask Google! It’s even moved effortlessly into their furniture and interior design.

2. Interior

Google South Africa’s offices are the perfect example. As you walk through the front entrance you are greeted with bold letters hanging from the roof spelling “HOWZIT”.

This is accompanied with some loud colours and patterns screaming from the backdrop in triangles and squares that your eyes just can’t help but want to decipher. Their office space is filled with this new trend all the way from the colourful woven basket chairs to the porcelain animal skulls against the wall. Have a look at Google SA’s office space right here.

3. Videography

Who remembers the Edgars TVC that was launched November 2018? The one featuring Sho Majozi in a massive pink tutu dress?

This TVC formed part of the Edgars campaign labeled #OwnTheLook and introduces an Edgars with a brand new approach - A creative collaboration between South African culture & couture.

According to Edgars CEO Mike Elliott: “We’re giving people the freedom and the space to define themselves like never before. [...] South Africa is the single most exciting and expressive place in the world right now, and as a brand, Edgars is celebrating that on every level.” The new Edgars brand is real, vibrant, diverse, beautiful and proud!

“Embrace the traditional print, embrace the colour and embrace the maximalist inspired fashion.”

But why? What’s the logic behind all of this madness? Have a quick read through our previous blog Maximalism: Madness or magic before you continue.

Maximalism celebrates boldness and our local heritage certainly embodies the rich traits incorporated in Maximalism. If these examples are not enough to get you wondering, then have a look at some more examples of Maximalism already happening in and around the continent:

1. Maximalism in art

2. Maximalism in fashion

3. Maximalism in interior design

4. Maximalism in media

So don’t just be Africa-anything! If you’re roots are founded on this continent, then inform your decisions for your brand by being bold and appropriately contextualising your game. If you’d like to find out how you can ensure that your brand isn’t falling behind or if you’re a little worried about going too bold, then let’s get in touch!

Kind Regards,

The JA. Team