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Simon Charwey creates African Design Matters, a directory for creatives of African descent



Simon Charwey is a brand identity designer and anthologist on indigenous African design systems and African Symbology.

Charwey’s works underpin a keener study of the heterogenous visual culture of his home country Ghana and Africa. But more resonantly, his experiences growing up in unique locales where symbols were seen as part of shared knowledge systems –– cultural expressions, identity, and values. Charwey rely on these knowledge systems because it is a deeper realm of creativity by which our ancestors create the relics we accept as part of our rich cultural history.

As a go-to expert on creating unique logos and symbols inspired by indigenous design systems, Charwey’s has embarked on two book projects: The Museum of Adinkra and the African Logo Design. Check his Projects tab to see all.

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KEHINDE WILEY @kehindewiley . Kehinde Wiley is a [Black] American portrait painter based in New York City, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of Black people. He was commissioned in 2017 to paint a portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which has portraits of all the U.S. presidents. (@wikipedia ) . #Repost with @make_repost ・・・ #repost @michelleobama ❤️ @barackobama . #africandesignmatters #diversityindesign #designfordiversity #africandesign #design #africandesigners #africansymbol #blackdesignersmatter #diversity #blackdesigners #decolonisingdesign #creativesofafricandescent #africa #blackartist #blackart #blackartists #blackartsupport #fineart #art #blackcreativesmatter #painting #blackculturematters #blackcreatives #blackcreators #barackobama #painter #museum

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The second phase of his research focuses on working with black creatives and creatives of African descent on the African Design Matters free directory initiative – a project in solidarity and in support of black creatives and creatives of African descent whose works are less represented within the world’s design community.

Charwey has served as a jury member for the Graphic Design Awards Ghana (GDAG) 2017 edition (now, Graphic Design Awards Afrika (GDAA)). He is the secretary of DesignGhana, and a member of the Pan Afrikan Design Institute (PADI), which is the Design Council of Africa, among others.


The initiative is built on the motto “Diversity in Design, Design for Diversity” and Simon Charwey explains further the rationale behind it.

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KERRY JAMES MARSHALL . Design history of black creatives and creatives of African descent who have relentlessly changed the narrative and their stories continue to inspire us all to date. Story shared by @thetimecop . #Repost with @make_repost ・・・ The very unique impressive talented artist #kerryjamesmarshall #kerryjamesmarshallexhibit #kerryjamesmarshallart very collectible artist #basquiat #jacsonpollock #sterlingruby #maryfeddon #keithharing #joanmitchell #joanmiro #henrimatisse #davidbomberg #andywarhol #sandrablow #barryflanagan #frankbowling #samgilliam @artfinderuk @ukartagent @unveilyourart @leopardprintzldn @curateartsales @artsubscriptionbox @hansfordandsons @artpoacher @thetimecop @kerryjamesmarshs . #africandesignmatters #diversityindesign #designfordiversity #africandesign #design #blackdesigners #creativesofafricandescent #africa #fineart #art #blackcreativesmatter #blackcreatives

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“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,  in solidarity and in support of Black creatives and creatives of African descent (Black and POC). 

“The goal is to create an unprecedented free directory cataloguing works of Black 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 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.”

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“And 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. Blacks 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 school’s textbooks. We want to see diverse ideas about indigenous architectural systems, music, films, and animations, fashion trends, among others.”

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#Repost @ancestorproject with @make_repost ・・・ Regrann from @osramba_media – Honoured and proud to be a part of this awesome project.The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum opens this month in Montgomery Alabama, USA. Go see an extension of the #Nkyinkyiminstallation there at the museum! And watch 60minutes for full feature.Better still go to the opening to see my sculptures! #Ancestorproject #anatomy #blacklivesmatter #chains #museum #endlynching #end racism #endslaveryforever #freedom #giveusfree – #regrann #africandesignmatters #diversityindesign #designfordiversity #africandesign #design #africandesigners #africansymbol #blackdesigners #decolonisingdesign #creativesofafricandescent #africa #blackartist #blackart #fineart #art #sculpture #blackculturematters

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Mr Charwey believes that 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, combined with the current situation in America could be very big for Black and POC, especially, black 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 Blacks nor POC. That should mean something. It means there is a need,” he adds.

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.



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