Thursday, January 22, 2009


Africa, continent of great creativity and genuine improvisation

I have spent a great deal of my life on the vast and enchanting African continent.
And Africa is the continent of wire. During my youth spent on a farm in Namibia wire was used every single day to repair hundreds and hundreds of kilometers of cattle-fence under the hot Namibian sun, sometimes burning your fingers.
In Mali and Mauritania where I lived and worked for a couple of years wire was " Mister Handyman". My furniture was fixed with wire. My petroleum fridge was fixed with wire. My shoes got new soles cut out of old tyre pieces and they were fixed with wire. And I could still walk in them. I was taller okay, but who cares?
And there was always someone know knew how to work wire.
The fancy solar-panel that was supposed to charge a battery and that was intended for the first PC at the Mauritanian border was installed on my office- roof with wire.
The solar system stayed up there for four years and survived the fiercest of sand-storms.
But, well, the panel did not really work often. Luckily the typewriter had not been thrown away.
I got my first wire-radio in Senegal that bewildered many of my friends - because it worked.
Wire has a million faces and is the all present companion and friend.
Wire will always be preferred to a nail.
I have watched many times how wire was treated as a lover, bent in all directions, talked to sworn at, re-modeled.... until finally it became tame and accepted the desired form.


My small design company Chocolat Negro creates decor-items from waste material and discarded items. And still today I am full of admiration for the funky and cool products created by African talented crafters and the simple people on the street.

This 1966 vintage barbie is born to be wild on a wire Harley. The tyres are made out of old black thrash bags.

Details as in real life.
The first wire toys that I have seen were made by children and were used as real toys.
This Harley was given to me as a gift by the boy because I admired it so much. Within a couple of hours he had made a new one for himself. The first toys were born out of poverty because there was simple nothing else to play with and you could see them all over Africa.

Later on Europeans discovered the wire creations as art pieces. They became more elaborate and beads showed up. It became a small industry with thousands of skilled African fingers creating the most amazing pieces. And the prices went up.
For this elaborate Aloe-plant you will easily pay a little bit more.

This VW beetle has got an edgy urban touch...


And all sort of insects


The simple designs for the kitchen are not to be underestimated either.........

The first pieces have a very nostalgic old-fashioned look. And they are simply so cool.


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