Design Network Africa will celebrate the fruition of five years and three phases of its programme with a group show at Maison & Objet in Paris this September. ‘We’re extremely proud of the designers who have formed part of the programme over the years and the diverse ways in which their companies have grown over this time,’ says Trevyn McGowan, whose company, The Guild Group, directs the programme from South Africa, through funding and guidance from Danish body CKU (Centre for Culture and Development).
Says CKU Programme Manager Thomas Spanner: ‘We established DNA because we had seen the immense creative talent present in Africa. We were surprised by the fact that most of these businesses were unkown internationally, despite being on par with some of the best design companies in the world, while offering such unique products. We were eager to support this industry, wanting to assist in its growth by supporting it financially. Our aim has been to augment these businesses, both from a commercial viewpoint, as well as from a marketing and promotional perspective.’
Over the past five-year period, DNA has supported these companies by providing them with links to world-renowned product developers, business and marketing strategists, photographers and stylists. This has resulted in stronger product ranges, more relevant promotional material, healthier business models and better day-to-day running of these businesses.
‘We’re thrilled to be showing the results of the five-year-long DNA programme,’ says McGowan. ‘Having worked with these companies for such a long time, it’s a beautiful ending to a fantastic programme that has seen so many rewards – both personal and commercial – during its important lifespan. African design is a thriving category, with many people drawn to the strong narrative and historic relevance of the work from our designers. Africa is where design was born, and it’s where it continues to produce meaningful, soulful results.’