Afrofuturism! Seems like an alien term? Something to do with the future? Almost there.  In simple words, Afro-futurism means imagining a new future for the African community. Science fiction, fantasy, and segments like magical realism and historic occurrences combined with an intellectual movement and principles of art and culture are called Afrofuturism. It is a diaspora that evinces African culture, traditions, and distinctive history with a twist of futuristic vision and theme. The African diaspora is nothing but an attempt to acknowledge the legacy, promote innovations, and envision what one calls avant-garde. Let’s dive deeper into what lies beneath the term Afrofuturism and its influence on art and design. 

African textile patterns depicted on wall_MafuridScribe - Sheet1
Afro-Futuristic Influence in the African Community_©futuristic-architecture.blogspot.com

Dissemination of the African Diaspora  

It’s been a while since the concept of Afrofuturism, coined by Mark Dery in 1994 exists in the African culture. This idea was subsequently presented to the worldwide audience through the award-winning film Black Panther. It elucidates the Afro theme with advanced technology turning the spotlight on this diaspora. Its emergence dates back to the early 20th century and received recognition during the 1950s through music. Afrofuturism has impacted a variety of cultural forms like music, visual arts, film, theatre, literature, television, Design, Architecture, and fashion, generating a distinctive style that questions typical depictions of black people in the media. The intent behind this movement was to promote and advocate unity. 

The movement is a journey of exploring different experiences. The diaspora practices African cultures blending with the futuristic and space theme concepts, making it unique to the Black experience. Ripples of change have been created to make the presence of the African diaspora evident and give voice to their ideas and motifs and not settle for suppression. It has the potential to provide an identity to space by embodiment of cultural expressions into the designs. 

Modern African Narrative in Design

The African narrative? It’s changing and burgeoning! The diaspora of Afrofuturism is bringing an elaborate yet positive change in people’s perceptions of Africa and its community. It is evolving toward growth and transformation. Afrofuturism is used as a tool to envision future concepts, simultaneously delving into the past and assessing the present of the African culture. It reinterprets the trauma and racism with a positive representation. It is used to investigate the globe, societies, communities, and also about the world that exists beyond the terrestrial. One can witness power in the striking Afrofuturistic designs. The potent imagery depicts strength, creativity, aesthetics, and vibrance and empowers the culture and heritage. The afro- futuristic architecture and style left its imprint on the minds of architects.

Afro Influence in Architecture

The movie Black Panther presented a utopian city that was unique, creative, and futuristic at all levels. The city and its imagery were so well articulated in a manner that did justice to the whole concept and introduced a new vocabulary of Afrofuturism. The skyscrapers and other structures depict sci-fi technology and form with a blend of the vernacular style of architecture. Exploration of styles, materials, and forms can also be seen. The architects are designing out-of-the-box spaces. These spaces and designs seem to be audacious, cutting-edge, and culturally pertinent that celebrate the distinct identity and customs of Africa. 

Image 2_Golden City of Wakanda_©Framebox

Afro Influence in Fashion

This African diaspora has overturned the narrative of how African culture, heritage, and history were seen. It has changed the lens from art, design, and architecture to inclusivity, development, and futuristic vision. Numerous fundamentals like clothing and accessories have also been captured and influenced heavily by this very movement of empowerment. The African influence has engraved its presence in the textile industry as well. The bold, vibrant, expressive African patterns complement the futuristic, tech-inspired designs and aesthetics. Also, the extensive use of patterns, colors, and various materials and accessorizing it with quirky jewelry gives a distinctive Afro character to it.

Image 3_Afrofuturism in Fashion Design_©anneroselt

Afro Influence in Arts and Design

Old stereotypes about African architecture have been transformed in the eyes of the new generation of designers as a result of Afrofuturism. Afrofuturism is being adopted and is conspicuous through various mediums, some being visual arts, Films, Music, etc. The potential use of black cultural significance and heritage led to breaking the stereotypes and commencing a new trend in the market. Art is used as a medium to impose a notable impact through illustrations, juxtaposing mythology, and fantasy.  

Image 4_Self Portrait with Quirky Futuristic Edge by Artist Lina Iris Viktor_©The New York Times

Conclusion  

In a nutshell, Afrofuturism has tickled minds to think about futuristic evolution. Afrofuturism has the power to confront inequalities in society, promote change, and encourage people to hope for and work towards a better future through its speculative plots. It altered people’s perceptions with its convoluted and quirky themes. Futuristic visions, having variations and inclusivity curated with numerous viewpoints and ideas shall define new vocabularies in the world. In this sense, Afrofuturism is beyond being just a trend, it is also a hope for recognition in the world. 

References: 

p.d.prempeh (2021). Afrofuturism: A Dive into a Vibrant, Futuristic World. [online] Afrofuturism. Available at: https://afrofuturism.art/what-is-afrofuturism/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2023].

‌ Africa, D. (2018). A Look at Afrofuturism in Art and Design. [online] Demand Africa. Available at: https://demandafrica.com/entertainment/pop-culture/a-look-at-afrofuturism-in-art-and-design/ [Accessed 20 Aug. 2023].

‌Sisson, P. (2018). Space is the Place: The architecture of Afrofuturism. [online] Curbed. Available at: https://archive.curbed.com/2018/2/13/17008696/black-panther-afrofuturism-architecture-design.

‌Dezeen. (2018). Afrofuturism is ‘creating a different narrative for Africa’ say creatives. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2018/04/06/afrofuturism-different-narrative-architecture-design-fashion-africa/.

Asare, J.G. (n.d.). How Afrofuturism Can Be Used As A Tool For Black Liberation. [online] Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/janicegassam/2021/03/22/how-afrofuturism-can-be-used-as-a-tool-for-black-liberation/?sh=529a67411271 [Accessed 21 Aug. 2023].

Author

Nimisha is a dynamic newly minted architect with a fresh perspective and a keen eye for design. With a passion for storytelling, she crafts compelling narratives illuminating the architectural domain's intricacies. Her insightful analyses and captivating prose make her a suitable proposer and thinker.