Issa DiabateIviorian architect, Issa is a partner in Koffi-Diabate Architects. His work marries African urbanity with local solutions. Exasperated with the worship of ethnicity, his goal as a designer is to create classic objects that travel easily. He shows a sketch by an artist of the city of Lagos, imaged 20 years ago.

In seeking out the dynamism he is immensely drawn to markets. Markets are the microcosm of cities. And what he finds is the local governments can’t often keep up with the pace of development. And one of the results is that waste and trash is often not collected or disposed in the best way. This is fine because it becomes part of the design of the district. The more trash is produced the more the markets tend to expand. This becomes an indicator of the growth in an African city. And it also leads to simply economics: if you don’t occupy the street, you don’t sell; and if you don’t sell, you don’t eat; which leads to health problems.

He talks about how innovative Africans have become in their design to showcase goods for sale in markets. This is illustrated with some amazing photographs. And he also mentions something we experience in South Africa all the time, which is the creativity of the people hawking their goods at traffic lights. The designs used are to maximise the amount of goods that can be fitted onto a particular hanger or display piece. He ended of showcasing various chairs based on different designs. Some of them used in different situations where material was very, very limited. This reminded me of a quote by Frank Lloyd Wright, “the human race built most nobly when limitation were greatest and therefore when most was required from imagination to build it all.”