By Nii B. Andrews.

The contemporary African Art (CAA) corpus in its fullest extent does complicate the broad generalizations that are often projected onto it. Ever so often, it disrupts the narrative of the less than well informed.

Today, we focus on three examples of avant-garde African furniture.

You are welcome to share your views – particularly, those who think avant-garde African furniture is an oxymoron.

Dominique Pétot is a Senegalese designer who takes his inspiration from the natural world – mainly flora and fauna.

His armchair, Méridienne, incorporates traditional weaving techniques.

MÉRIDIENNE: Dominique Pétot; coated steel, handwoven nylon; 72 x 160 x 110 cm, 2004.

The structure is made of stainless steel.

The cover comprises differently colored nylon strings, giving the chair a sense of depth and conveying the impression that the chair back is being filled with wind, like a sail.

Pétot says that the design was inspired by both a bird in flight and by a blossoming bud.

The Italian furniture design company, Moroso has incorporated the Méridienne chair into its design collection called M’afrique.


The Sansa chair by Cheick Diallo has a wire that is traditionally used in the fishing industry as its main component.

This wire has often been utilized in innovative ways throughout Africa, especially for the fabrication of simple tools.

SANSA ARM CHAIR: Cheick Diallo; metal, nylon and cord; 80 x 80 x 90 cm; 2010.

In furtherance of this pervasive tradition, Diallo worked with craftspeople, weaving and knotting nylon thread with the multi-coloured wire.

He was thus able to create a distinctive chair where a light presence is combined with stability and contemporary elan.

Diallo trained as an architect in Paris. Currently, he is based in his hometown of Bamako where he produces his furniture.


The Burkinabe artist and designer Alassane Drabo, has reappropriated the traditional gourd as a lamp base and the metal pot as a lamp shade.

GOURDE PROTECTRICE: Alassane Drabo; aluminum, metal and gourd; 67 x 16 x 40 cm, 2006.

The resultant object – a lamp called Gourde Protectrice, has panache and is both a useful and honest tribute to items that are found throughout the continent of Africa.

Is Drabo commenting on the transformation of agricultural communities into parts of urban service centers often within a giant megapolis?

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