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Hamed Outarra

West African designer and artist Hamed Outarra (1971 –) hails from Burkina Faso. He shows the use of raw, recycled materials and natural stylistic elements in his work. His recent work is a characteristic appreciation for sloping curves and weathered metals that create functional objects. Outarra’s medium is focused on furniture creation, with an emphasis on subverting notions of weight and mass, typically creating objects that seem to balance precariously on legs that are slanted but remain firm. Outarra’s aim is to develop an appreciation of design as a key point and in doing so, to create a new vocabulary for furniture design in Africa. 

Hamed Outarra has worked with Design Network Africa and has consequently exhibited in London, featured as part of the Graphic Africa exhibition. He has also been exhibited internationally, from Spain to the United States of America, while supplying galleries and shops throughout Africa and Europe. Outarra is largely self-taught, initially trained in accountancy and then fashion before spending some time at ENSCI Les Ateliers, an interdisciplinary graduate design school in Paris. The standout quality of Outarra’s works can be linked to the aesthetics of Afrofuturism and to the innovations of contemporary African artist who work reflexively from their immediate environment and utilize materials that are easily accessible. 

Hamed Outarra, Green Cabinet (2014) H: 103 W: 93 D: 44, painted metal, Burkina Faso 

Hamed Outarra’s Green Cabinet ventures slightly away from his characteristic raw industrial aesthetic, showing a more detailed and delicate creation. The cabinet is a recent work of Outarra’s, produced in 2014. The use of green and gold could be reminiscent of the Burkina Faso Flag, which features red and green block colours and a central gold star. The colours are striking however, without the need for a basis in symbolism – instead showing a more formalist approach, looking at differing tones of green that allow for an interesting interaction of light and shape. The gilded gold pattern of the cabinet’s front adds a glamorous element to the work while contrasting the weathered paint on the cabinet’s body. The curved shape of the cabinet, along with the slight, delicate legs show it to be concurrent with an emerging characteristic of Outarra’s design. 

Hamed Outarra, Chessboard Coffee Table (2014) H: 44cm L: 132cm D: 116cm, painted metal, Burkina Faso

The Chessboard Coffee Table also by Hamed Outarra remains within his typical aesthetic of upcycled metal, reworked into a functional, yet pleasing, design object. The title of the work references the square blocks of metal that form the top face of the table. In so doing, the table can be seen to give reference to the traditional board game that is found across many different cultures, thus adding a playful and interactive element to the object. The form and style of the table lends itself to functionality and usefulness as a enhancing objects placed on its top, while also being interesting as a feature piece, with Outarra’s characteristically sloped curves that are polished and refined. As with the Green Cabinet, Outarra’s Chessboard Coffee Table forms part of his recent output of 2014 creations.