M2 Art centre (Kibera) and University of Nairobi

/ Context:

M2 Art centre functions as an innovative space for income generation and cultural activities for young artists in Kibera. University students, who enter into the corporate world, also have little regard for the informal creative economy characterised by projects such as the M2 art centre. The paradox here is that Kenya’s economy is largely informal and therefore the realities of living in Kenya and especially in Nairobi would resonate closely with such informal expressions of artists living in slums. This gapping divide between the formal education in the design school and the informal products from the slums is therefore disagreeable as it prevents the realisation of a design language that is truly representative of life in Kenya.

/ Case idea:

Collabo poa is conceived as a co-learning space where design students can interact with graffiti/street artists from Kibera. The interaction is seen as an opportunity for cultural exchange and cross pollination of ideas from the formal education environment with the informal expressions of daily life in the slums that is infused into the work of the M2 street artists.

/ Summary of the initiative:

Collabo poa responds to the demand for a more holistic approach to learning, where both explicit and tacit knowledge sets can shape the design agenda for Kenya. The current design agenda is narrowly focused on formal avenues of design making that are heavily shaped by western thinking. Collabo poa can help change this paradox by exposing future design leaders to the rich and pervasive influence of street art in Kenya.

In reciprocation, the demand for better living standards in the slums can be spoken too if collabo poa can open up more economic opportunities for artists affiliated to the M2 art centre.

/ Collaborative value:

The case is extensively collaborative because it entails the building of a shared understanding and ‘solutioning’ between students and slum artists. Beyond that, the case will also bring together people from different backgrounds into one interactive space, where meaningful discussions can take place. It is hoped that such active dialogue can give birth to a sustained collaborative spirit between formal structures and informal set-ups, resulting in a new, authentic vocabulary for Kenyan design.

/ More:

Collabo Poa (case description document)
Collabo Poa (images/presentation)