Contemporary Design & Innovation

Our colonial inheritance and the ubiquitous influence of Western hegemony has largely been blamed for the crowding out of indigenous ways of being, knowing and learning. This premise supports the notion that the Nigerian modernity – as both an aspiration and achieved state – is more often a mimic or appropriation of what we have received rather than what can be traced to our historic civilizations and home-grown processes. However, another school of thought points to a reversal in global exchanges which centers Africa as a growing marketplace for innovation and increasingly consumers of its own novel cultural products.

Funke Oyinbo Pepper ObatalaAs a society, how have we traditionally dealt with questions of “the unknown” and “the yet to come”? What clues do our languages, cultural practices and technologies hold? What happens to authenticity, especially in a world where Nigerians have not been at the forefront of advances in learning and technology? The Futures & the Imaginary programme considers our cultural and societal approach to asking and seeking answers to questions that are bigger and beyond us. By excavating cultural artefacts, such as our idioms, objects, cosmologies and even architecture, it offers a means of historicizing the present and to re-think the future through recollections of the past and its abandoned alternatives.

Through recorded conversation, articles, installations and design workshops, it explores how we can deal imaginatively with the constraints of today and prepare to face the uncertainties and complexities of the future. This exploration is not restricted to ‘practical’ technologies and advancements, but also looks at critical and creative expressions such as science fiction, experimental art forms and social commentary. This is a space for thought leaders, researchers, technologists and cultural producers to explore playful and purposeful interventions from an informed perspective in ways that challenge existing attitudes to the familiar and habits of short-term thinking.


Lagos 2060 – The Newsstand

Lagos-2060-BannerImagine it is the year 2060, and you are standing at a digital newsstand along a busy street in Africa’s largest and most prominent megapolis, Lagos. Energy is cheap, market women are fluent in Mandarin and parts of the city have been reclaimed by the sea. What are the top stories vying for your attention – be that in entertainment, business, sports, politics or fashion?

Think for a second of what Lagos may look and feel like. Glittering towers monitored by sensors, a Fourth Mainland bridge and perhaps a latticework of canals dispersed across the city. Will issues of transport or waste still persist? If by 2060, people were able to generate their own electricity and water, what would this mean for governance? How would the flow of people, capital, and even identity be managed?

As part of FutureFest in London this March, Lagos has been invited as one of Africa’s fastest growing most vibrant cities, to present an imagined future. To kickstart the conversation, the project frames the exchanges around the idea of a digital newspaper stand. Send your news-stories to Find out more here.

Futures & Imaginaries