Senegalese artist and product designer Ousmane Mbaye is in constant conversation with his surroundings. His art is as much his assemblages of found, recycled objects and new materials moulded into colourful, functional objects as it is his process of interrogating and preserving the sense of wholeness of the materials he uses. “(I) try to see (my material) as a living substance that I can enhance with colour and use different techniques with,” he explains.
Although inspired and propelled by all art forms – from poetry to pottery – to create, Mbaye’s spirtual connection exists with metal. Drawing on his inspirations and the collective history of bondage of his African compatriots, Mbaye bends, smelts and twists metals into tables, lamps, chairs and other key objects.
His work is primarily concerned with the search for balance, leading him to seek an aesthetic answer in raw materials. This aesthetic sensitivity to his outer world lead Mbaye to start his own design firm, Ousmane Mbaye Design, producing objects that are sought after and exhibited from Dakar to New York, Johannesburg, Paris and now Hong Kong. Mbaye credits his African consumers for their attention to detail and process that continually holds him accountable to the highest standards of design and tradition.
The artist is currently building a multidisciplinary design school in his home country of Senegal in order to open the doors to the creative industry to more Senegalese who typically do not have access to creative disciplines. “Design plays a role at all levels of our economic and social structures,” he explains. “…That’s my dream and I’m fighting every day for it to become a reality.
Central to Mbaye’s work is sharing the richness and dynamism of African design-thought around the world, and if his increasingly global and meditative career is anything to judge by, he is well on the way to bringing Africa to the world and the world to Africa – on African terms.