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Title: A contemporary designer's insight into traditional African art : exploring the role played by indigenous art and artefacts in contemporary South African design
Authors: Damba, Buchanan Zwelibanzi 
Keywords: Graphic design -- African influences;Art, African;Art and society -- South Africa;Art -- African influences
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Abstract: This study explores contemporary South African graphic designers’ awareness and use of indigenous African cultural traditions and knowledge systems (especially South African) in their design thinking and practice. The basic question addressed concerns the extent to which design challenges are currently being solved by sourcing inspiration and solutions from indigenous art and artefacts. Stephen Biko’s Black Consciousness philosophy reveals the potential of post-colonial and post-apartheid South Africa by identifying the preconditions for genuine equality. The study takes its cue from this to propose a transformative outlook that is accommodative of all the many and various cultural codes available in South Africa. The research process of coding qualitative data led to the emergence of four categories: colonialism and Western influence in South African design, embracing South African cultures for identity growth, slow transformation, and the notion that South African design history is unknown. Each of these was examined in terms of inspiration, practice, globalisation, progress and Africa. Inspiration refers to the sources on which contemporary graphic designers draw, practice deals with the incorporation in design applications of traditional cultural and indigenous knowledge systems; globalisation covers the influence of technology and world relations on South African graphic design, progress refers to the post-apartheid transformation of the country, and finally, Africa covers the graphic designer’s knowledge and definition of what African art and artefacts actually comprise. Charmaz’s constructivist grounded theory approach is adopted for this research since it explores questions of both ‘what’ and ‘how’ in respect of a phenomenon or occurrence. The method proceeds without preconceptions to formulate generalisations from the data gathered. Qualitative data was assembled through interviews with a sample of graphic designers. The research established that graphic designers in South Africa are currently working towards a culture of inclusivity with positive acceptance of South African indigenous cultural and knowledge systems. Given the persisting global dominance of a European Modernist design aesthetic, this process of transformation is bedevilled by neo-colonial resistance, ignorance, and lack of confidence. These obstacles are addressed through the paradigm of Biko’s Black Consciousness, which is as pertinent today as it was in the 1970s. The vision informing the study as a whole is of a graphic design industry that is fully inclusive of all the cultural codes and traditions woven into South Africa’s once fractured history and society.
Description: Thesis (MTech (Graphic Design))--Cape Peninsula University of Technology, 2020
Appears in Collections:Graphic Design - Master's Degrees

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