“I don’t have an interest in design if it is only to remake that which already exists.” The powerful quote by Malian designer, Cheick Diallo, best describes the impeccable furniture and objects that come from Diallo Designs. While training as a designer and architect in Paris at the School of Architecture of Normandie (Ecole d’Architecture de Normandie) he discovered his love for design and decided to pursue it further. He registered for the furniture design course at the National School of Industrial Design (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle) between 1992 and 1994. Studying furniture design was clearly a right move for him, as he easily exceled in the field. Proof being in 1993 when he won a competition organized by the Museum of Applied Arts in Paris for his ‘Rivale’ chair and ‘Ifen’ standard lamp.
After graduation, he returned to his hometown of Bamako in Mali to set up his studio, Diallo Design Studio. This is where he and his team of artisans create captivating statement furniture that looks so good that we’d probably have to seriously convince ourselves to sit on such art. Apart from the aesthetic prowess, here are some other fine points that make Diallo Designs perfection:
He gives old items a new lease on life
Interestingly, these pieces are crafted from everyday detritus that have been discarded such as old tyres, computer batteries and soft drink cans. Working mostly by hand, he and his team tap into a local making tradition of recycling to produce luxury objects and furniture with impeccable finish.
Inspired by his country
His pieces may have international appeal but that’s not where he derives his inspiration from. He embraces his roots to go on and implement them in completely diverse ways. Take for example one of his most renowned pieces, the MO armchair. The strong architectural aesthetic piece was inspired by the Malian fishermen and their traditional traps. He went on to design the chair using nylon and fishing wire stretched over a metal frame.
Challenges the African Design Perception
It’s no secret that African designers tend to be perceived by the international community with a common stereotype of what constitutes African design. But this designer wasn’t having it. The creative risk-taker challenges this notion with contemporary susceptibility mixed with obscure extravagance and ancient traditional insight in his design projects. And it seems his creative confidence is paying off. He has exhibited internationally, everywhere from France to United States of America on a regular basis, and has been known to influence European designer brands such as Italian furniture brand Moroso.
His design aesthetic speaks volumes of design consciousness
Creating designs that bridge between modern sensuality and ancient traditions isn’t just an economic affair for this designer. A fact that shines through via the elegant use of clean lines and simplistic sculptural lines. His pieces then rely on materials’ textures and patterns to provide the dimensions to the pieces. Using this tactic shows design discipline in an era that is overwhelmed with mass and over production.
What makes this functional art so prodigious isn’t just the visual facet, but the depth it exudes. Each of his design projects are stories about preserving traditions, empowering people in the community with economic development and eco-fashion warped up in luxe. It’s also a reminder that being true to your own vision, by being bold and choosing to develop your artistic language instead of sticking to the heard, can be a very rewarding leap of faith. His impeccable furniture and objects are proof of that.