In conjunction with the Black in Design 2023 Conference, “The Black Home”
Across languages and cultures, the notion of home resonates universally as a sanctuary, a refuge, and a testament to our deep connection with a specific place—a delineated territory of heritage. From the strokes of art to the textures of fabrics, the aromas that waft through the air, and the harmonies of sounds, the Black home becomes an outward manifestation of our traditions, customs, and embodied identities.
For Black individuals, the meaning of home extends far beyond a physical structure. It encompasses the intangible essence of where the heart finds solace, where families flourish, and where we seek respite from the violence that often plagues the public sphere. Home becomes a fluid concept, adapting and evolving as we navigate different environments and forge connections with diverse communities.
Unfortunately, descriptions and visions of the Black Home on the African continent often veer toward narratives of “death, destruction, disease, and danger,” as eloquently captured by Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina. Regrettably, these homes are frequently regarded as mere artifacts, subjects for study, or curiosities to be sampled rather than be acknowledged for their profound multidimensionality. In reality, these structures provide shelter, reflect culture, identity, and traditions, and generate spaces of the home that transcend the physical realm.
In an effort to rectify these misconceptions, this groundbreaking exhibition unites African visionaries—designers, sound artists, storytellers, and creators—to celebrate the diverse interpretations of Black homes throughout the continent. As an integral component of the Black in Design Conference 2023 (September 22-24, 2023) programming, this exhibition aims to expand the visual and expressive boundaries surrounding the Black African home. By doing so, we seek to reinforce and honor the ideals cherished by Black communities residing in Africa and across the broader diaspora.
Black in Design 2023 Conference Co-Chairs: Dora Mugerwa (MLA ’24), Tobi Fagbule (MDes ’23), Kai Walcott (MLA ’24), MJ Johnson (MUP ’23)
Àrà Lab: Tobi Fagbule (MDes ’23) and Sumayyah Súnmádé Raji (MArch ’23)
Cory Henry, Design Critic in Architecture