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From space glasses to outlandish outfits, the quirky and wonderful world of African design

By Alex Court, for CNN

Published 5:40 AM ET, Fri March 13, 2015
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MAKING AFRICA EXHIBIT Pink Woman Credit Pierre Christophe GamMAKING AFRICA EXHIBIT Pink Woman Credit Pierre Christophe Gam
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A major exhibition showcasing the work of 120 contemporary African designers opens Saturday at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Running until 13 September, "Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design," features a wide range of creations cutting across diverse media, including design, art, photography, architecture and film. Courtesy: Pierre Christophe Gam
Chris Saunders, who is from Johannesburg in South Africa, took this photo of 27 year-old fashion designer and tailor Lethabo Tsatsinyane as part of his 2010 series "Smarteez." Courtesy: Chris Saunder
The founder of Imiso Ceramics was born in 1978 near Qobo-Qobo in South Africa's Eastern Cape. An accomplished ceramic designer, Andile Dyalvane prides himself as being South African. He strives for his clay art to be "beautiful, valuable and usable." Courtesy: Southern Guild/Imiso Ceramics
This photograph by the Senegalese artist is from the 2013 series "The Studio of Vanities." Omar Victor Diop was born in Dakar in 1980, and quit his job in corporate communications to focus on photography in 2012. Courtesy: Omar Victor Diop/Magnin A Gallery Paris
Diop's work mixes photography with other forms of art, such as costume design, styling and creative writing and has been described as "a tad vintage." He says he aims to capture the diversity of modern African societies and lifestyles. Courtesy: Omar Victor Diop/Magnin A Gallery Paris
Born in Cape Town, South Africa and raised in Johannesburg, Robin Rhode has produced a catalogue of animation art such as this piece entitled "Birdman." Using everyday materials such as soap, charcoal and chalk, Rhode depicts a sole protagonist (often played by an actor) and transforms urban landscapes into imaginary worlds. Courtesy: Robin Rhode/Lehmann Maupin
As South African society is increasingly influenced by hip-hop, film, and storytelling on colorful murals, Rhode was encouraged to develop his mind-bending street-based art. Courtesy: Robin Rhode/Lehmann Maupin
The very first building celebrated architect Francis Kere designed is a school. As a child in Gando, Burkina Faso he had to travel nearly 25 miles to the next village to get to class. His school had poor lighting and ventilation, and it was a struggle to learn in that environment. Whilst studying architecture in Europe, he developed construction strategies that combined traditional Burkinabe building techniques and materials with modern engineering methods. The school was completed in 2001. Courtesy: Erik Jan Ouwerkerk
Kéré also designed the medical facility Centre de Santé et de Promotion Sociale in Laongo, Burkina Faso. The center consists of three medical units organized around a central waiting area. Several shaded courtyards were incorporated into the design so visitors and family can be comfortable while they wait. Local clay and stone were used in the walls for extra rain protection. Locally available eucalyptus wood, seen as an environmental nuisance as it contributes to desertification, is used to line the suspended ceilings and covered walkways of the center. Courtesy: Kéré Architecture
As well as functional buildings, Kéré also designed this pavilion which consists of 34 overlapping arches made of honeycomb sheet material. The installation created a passage between two rooms of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Kéré provided multicolored straws, and encouraged visitors to use them to add to and change the structure. Courtesy: James Harris
In this piece, entitled "Alito, The Guy with Style", the subject chose the background cloth for the shoot. Born in 1984 in Maputo, Mozambique, Mario Macilau became a professional photographer when he traded his mother's cell phone for his first camera in 2007. He specializes in long term projects that focus on living and environmental conditions that affect socially isolated groups. Courtesy: Ed Cross Fine Arts
In this throne sculpture, Goncalo Mabunda uses AK47s, rocket launchers and other objects of destruction. The weapons carry strong political connotations, yet the beautiful objects he creates are also a reflection on the resilience of African societies. According to the artist, the thrones function as attributes of power, tribal symbols and traditional pieces of ethnic African art. They are an ironic way of commenting on his experience of violence during Mozambique's 1977-1992 civil war, which left at least one million dead. Courtesy: Vitra Design Museum/Jürgen Hans
"I travel from Nairobi to the rural areas to teach them how to give trash a second chance," says Kenyan artist Cyrus Kabiru, who specializes in wearable eye sculptures. Cyrus Kabiru
Award-winning Ugandan photographer Papa Shabani says "Cyrus is a different new breed with original works." The self-taught artist, pictured wearing his creations, used to exchange his art with students who would do his homework for him.
Cyrus Kabiru