Simon Charwey - African Design Matters


Diversity in Design, Design for Diversity

Due to the current situation ongoing in the USA — Black Lives Matter (BLM) and many initiatives representing minorities — I have initiated this relevant and timely initiative, @africandesignmatters free directory in solidarity and in support of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) creatives and creatives of African descent.

The goal is to create an unprecedented free directory cataloguing works of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) creatives and creatives of African descent. But most importantly, works that were inspired by indigenous African design systems and African Symbology. To show "diversity in design," and to encourage all creatives, especially, Black, Indigenous, and POC to "design for diversity." It is a living directory. In other words, this free directory will keep growing and as it grows so will its filter features, to make the search experience more of a fun and an expedition into the visual expressions of diverse cultures, values, and ideas.

AAnd most relevantly too, it is a global invitation to all educational systems to rewrite their curriculum to show diversity. It is interesting how we can have so much but ignore them. Black, Indigenous, and POC have a rich and heterogenous cultural history we can all benefit from if we but not stifle its creative expressions. We are calling for a diverse cultural history that should be seen in our art and design schools textbooks. We want to see diverse ideas about indigenous architectural systems, music, films, and animations, fashion trends, among others.

If certain demographics are the only ones represented in design, then the designs you see in the world will only show one point of view. It’s important to see the works of various groups, cultures and ethnicities so we can have a more well-rounded view of the world, of problem solving, of the needs and experiences of mankind, and of what form and beauty look like.

The whole concept of the project — Africa Design Matters free directory — combined with the current situation in America and, of course, other parts of the world, could be very big for Black, Indigenous, and POC creatives and creatives of African descent.

I am confident that, it could become one of the biggest, most important things I ever do, but I also think in order for that to be the case I need to begin to be proactive. I am receiving continuous positive feedback since its inception, from some design organisations, and even top creatives who are neither Black, Indigenous, nor POC. That should mean something. Speaking to Cheryl D. Holmes-Miller and she taking her time to take me through the history of her article "Black Designers: Missing in Action (1987)," has motivated me to not give up on this journey.

You can support this free directory initiative by simply following us on Instagram and Twitter to stay updated with the journey. And/or DM us with an Instagram handle or link to a website showing works inspired by indigenous African design systems and African Symbology that you would want us to add to the free directory.