Fenoson Zafimahova

Sensible, Expressive, Unexpected

Welcome to Episode 25 of Afrika Design: a creative tour of Afrika.

Our next stop: Madagascar. Fenoson Zafimahova, a Lead Concept Designer, led the design of JBL portable speakers such as FLIP3, JBL Xtreme, and Pulse 2. We discuss the creative process, AI in design, Malagasy culture, and the knowledge locals have about design. We also discuss the future of design and the biggest challenge facing designers, sustainability.


*For the best experience, please use a headset/earphones.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fenoson-zafimahova

Music by: Ngalah Oreyo (@ngalah_oreyo) and Mercy Barno (@merc.b_)

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Fenoson: At the end of the day, all the companies go to the same manufacturers. So, when those manufacturers have goals that are to make sustainable things because that's what the company wants but also that's what the user wants and that's what is needed for the environment.

[00:00:15] Then that will go and start spreading in all the different areas. And hopefully, that will give us a lot of jobs to do. And a lot of sustainable products in the future... 

[00:00:26] Hosts (Adrian/Naitiemu): Welcome to Afrika Design, a creative tour of Africa. On this episode, we meet Fenoson Zafimahova, a lead concept designer from Madagascar who's based in Sydney, Australia. He studied in France and worked in China with major innovative consumer electronics brands and groups. He takes us through his creative process as a lead designer behind a number of coveted products, including the JBL portable speakers and AKG headphones.

[00:00:53] We also delve into the need to implement sustainable products in industrial design, AI involvement in the future of consumer product design, Malagasy culture, the future of industrial design in Africa, and much more. He believes design is about

focusing on the end user’s needs, employing empathy, understanding their daily

lives, and giving the best technology solution in a qualitative, intuitive, and appealing package, whatever the end result is. Be it a brand, a packaging, a product, a service, or an interface.

[00:01:25] Fenoson: In the French system, when you are in high school. I think it's in 11th grade. They set you up with someone to talk about the future. You have I think it's a session a month or a session every semester. And you just go to this person to figure it out, like, okay, what kind of path do you wanna go? And I didn't really know what I wanted to do at that point. I was always quite good at artistic things. I did some paintings that look okay. I was always trying to sketch shoes and sketch stuff and doodle some things.

[00:01:55] And I just went to her and said, I want to do that as a career. And she had no idea what it was. And I'm really thankful about this because she did a little bit of research and figured out that the people who are actually doing this are called industrial designers, they're designers. And then I was like, okay, that sounds really

good.

[00:02:14] And then I went and looked for a school. My sister who was already in France because she was in university and she was in Lyon at that point. And I just told her like, I wanna do this. Can you find me a school? And she did find me a school. The school is called École de Condé.

[00:02:32] And what they were doing is, you have one year, which is like a prep year. So, you just try everything. So, you try industrial design but also fashion design, graphic

design, and interior design. Then the year after you can choose a specialty to go into. So, I did that and I still wanted to do industrial design after a year. 

[00:02:56] My dad was a little bit reluctant for me doing this. He was like, yeah, just go do economy, do marketing, do something that is tangible. I don't really know why you want to do this drawing business but he was like, oh, after a year he probably would

forget about it and it'll not work out. Let's just let him do what he wants.

[00:03:15] So, then I started to show him what I was actually producing. Then it started to be like, oh, so you're making tangible things out of this. It's not just drawing. Then he

started to understand a little bit more what it was. And now he's like the one that is kind of my biggest fan, like saying, okay, so what are you working on now?

[00:03:34] And stuff like that. 

[00:03:35] Amazing.

[00:03:36] It was a cool journey, but it was nice for him to let me do it and see like, and even if he wanted me to fail, he still allowed me the opportunity to try, which is great. 

[00:03:46] Adrian (Host): I've kind of found out about industrial design in a similar way, by going into the library at school and flicking through the careers book and seeing product designer and thinking, yeah. I was already doing design and technology at school and making furniture and lights and things.

[00:04:06] So, that's how my journey went as well. You chose to go away from Madagascar. And industrial product design is not that common profession as, many countries around the continent. First, is there something you'd like to say about that? 

[00:04:21] Fenoson: That's really true cause what I've found out is that in the continent, so in Africa. We have a lot of good craftsmen. They're really good artisans and craftsmen that are doing really amazing things with wood. Like in Madagascar, sewing. They're really good at it.

[00:04:36] That's something that we have, but since the infrastructure to do an industry is not there. It's really hard to actually do it there. The only country that I really found had some was Tunisia and Morocco but then you have also, South Africa.

[00:04:52] That have like some industrial design centers and also agencies. But that's it. And in Madagascar at that point, you don't have any schools that would teach you how to be an industrial designer. I really think that I'm blessed in a way that my parents

were able to actually send me to France and do these studies because my dad always told me, you will not get any inheritance from me. 

[00:05:15] It's going to be your education because that's the base that will allow you to do whatever you want afterwards. And I think that's something that is really important and I hope that education is going to come and be a little bit easier like we'll have more

opportunity in Africa to actually be educated in things that enables us to move forward afterwards.

[00:05:38] Actually in Madagascar, in Antananarivo in the capital, you have a school that does industrial design. I didn't go and meet them yet. I would probably do it with

my next trip cause the trip that I did before, I went into the high school to actually introduce them to not only industrial design, but every single spectrum of it, of design.

[00:05:57] So I introduce them to graphic design, industrial design, but also the part that is really big nowadays, which is UIUX. So, just to get them interested in those kinds of fields and maybe some of them would have the French passport because some people have dual nationality. They will be able to go to France and study it depending on what they wanna do, of course.

[00:06:17] So that was a good experience to be just able for an hour to do that. What I would like to do really is to do a workshop for like maybe a few days and then really, they can try and make something and then really understand how to solve a problem

because, at the end of the day, that's what it is. It's just finding a problem and trying to solve it in a creative way.

[00:06:37] Adrian (Host): Yeah. Thanks for that. That's really informative. It'd be great to find out about the school in Madagascar and what they're doing as well. If there is a switch to digital many top design schools around the world are closing their product design degrees, their industrial design degrees. I have heard of some top industrial design schools choosing in their strategy to cut off industrial design and product design and focus purely on their digital degrees going forward.

[00:07:09] First of all for us, as tactile people, as product designers, what does that mean? Are we also switching to digital in some forms? And this extension to that question, which I also think is a key point here is: In Africa we've seen people and

technologies, leapfrogging certain legacy things such as mobile phones.

[00:07:33] People didn't have a need to install landlines in Kenya. We have M-PESA which is a electronic money, mobile payment service. We don't need things such as credit cards, perhaps as much. So, this switch with industrial design with the industry, is that also perhaps going to be a good thing for Africa? Where all you need is a laptop and a computer instead of machinery.

[00:07:58] Fenoson: Yes. So, my wife is working actually in a software company and from time to time, she brings me news about what's going on in that industry. And she's really excited about, in Kenya, women that are taught how to code and that enables them to actually work from home but also to earn enough wage to be more independent.

[00:08:19] And I think that's one thing that also is happening in Madagascar with the fact that you just need a computer. And if you have that access to internet, you can actually learn by yourself. And if you're passionate and you have that little thing, you'll be able to do whatever you want.

[00:08:34] And in Madagascar too, they do have really good web designers and graphic designers in that field. Yes, you don't need much to be able to actually get the knowledge, but also test it out. Most of the tools are free, industrial design tools like XD, Figma. 

[00:08:52] So those are tools to create apps and create websites. But, when you look into them, they're actually free to use. I'm actually using Rhinoceros 3d for building CAD and at work, the engineers are using SolidWorks.

[00:09:06] Rhino is actually not that expensive, but it's still like 1000 something dollars. So, then you have the cost of buying a rendering software. So, you do have Blender but Blender is not really making physical things. It's there to just visualize it and do

animations and these kinds of things.

[00:09:22] So, I think yes, it does help out. And I know that in Africa, the internet since it's something that is coming now, the infrastructure are actually sometimes better. Internet here in Australia, it's stable. It's good but it's not the best. I've noticed that internet in Madagascar when I was there is way faster.

[00:09:41] If you have the money and pay enough money for it, you actually have better internet than the one here just because they take the internet directly from La Réunion. Which is a little island, but it's a French island that has all the infrastructure and has the proper fiber optics. So, they take the internet from there.

[00:09:58] So, the internet is actually a really good thing. And with the 5g. Hopefully, it's going to be even easier to have internet in remote places in Africa. So, let's hope that happens. It is a field that is growing and you have more and more work in that

field. Industrial design, you don't find that many. 

[00:10:17] Product design, UI UX. You actually find a lot of... everybody needs to be on the internet. Let's say. So, there's a lot of work going on there but I've looked into it. I probably would learn; take some courses I did like some LinkedIn courses. I'd probably

take more courses to be able to have that knowledge. And since I'm already a designer, the way of thinking and the process, the design thinking behind it is really similar.

[00:10:42] It's just taking the process, physical to the end goal, being digital. At the end of the day, the leap is not that big. It's just learning a little bit more about the process and what to target more in order to find their insights and then learning about the tools in order to build what you have in mind.

[00:11:00] Adrian (Host): Mm-hmm. As an industrial designer, I always found it... and before even I think that's what drove me is, it's amazing that everything we have, every manmade object is created by a designer of some sort. An architect, an engineer, but many are designers. And you've worked on some things that as well, people might be very familiar with.

[00:11:21] There are a lot of things that aren't appreciated about the skill of industrial design and creating products that people will love. Perhaps maybe there's some stories you could share of some of the products you've worked on that you've found either really satisfying or maybe some little story about the product, about how it was created, your thought process on the details of the product that might not be clear immediately to a user.

[00:11:47] Fenoson: I did. So, after I finished my studies, I had the opportunity to do an internship in Shanghai for an agency called Teams design. Then after that, I went to HARMAN International, which is a group that owns a lot of audio brands like JBL, AKG, Harman Kardon. So, I was young and AKG and JBL at that point was... I was like the target for that brand. And they wanted to take the brand into another step. So, they already had like this range of portable speakers. That was back in 2015, I think. No, 2013 actually. They already had like this little range of devices, portable Bluetooth speakers. It was growing and they wanted to take it to the next level and I had the opportunity to actually be the lead on that, on those devices.

[00:12:34] And that, for a really young designer who just started was awesome. And that's also the reason why I went to China because that's where the manufacturing was. And here I was also just a bit lucky to get there. And then I showed some potential by creating one portable speaker that is called Clip.

[00:12:51] And after that, they just trust me to actually be able to give the vision of what the next five years of the device would be. What was great in an in-house design center is that you have a little bit of time. So, I took time with the team, of course, and with my manager, Joshua, who helped me a lot to gather all the information about the users to understand, really who these people are.

[00:13:16] We call them the everyday extraordinaries. It's really about young people who are like really expressive, who like to have some details that will almost like surprise them on the device. We took everybody in the office and started a workshop. So, that's how we did it. It's never the work of one person. It's always the work of a team. And that's what is really great about being a designer. So, everybody always thinks when they have a profession that they're the center of attention, that everything revolves around.

[00:13:46] But I think it's more like a sphere where everything revolves around everybody else. Marketing would say I'm the bridge between the user and the product. And then you have industrial designers under the bridge between the engineers and the user. Then you have the business under the bridge between this... bridges everywhere. So, that's one fun thing that I found out. We did this workshop and we just like said, okay, everybody takes two hours, research images. And images that remind

you of the brand colors, brands that exist, places, music, artists, and let's just put them all together on the wall.

[00:14:25] And by doing that, we started to actually see things that we could group together. And by grouping them together, we started to create principles. So, we had three principles that we then took into effect in our design process. Sensible, expressive, and unexpected. Those were for us at the end, the keywords. And then you bring it back to the brand. So, sensible is really practical and functional. That's where you have to have like a product that is user-friendly, with like natural form.

[00:14:57] That is like a seamless combination of industrial design, UX, and UI, on the device itself. Then you have like the expressive part. It's all about the emotion and feeling and the passion because it's music, it's about people that are quite young. They love colors. So, it's really about like the intense colors, the matching it to their lifestyle kind of thing.

[00:15:18] So, it needs to also be rugged and quite tough but still express what they are as an individual. And then the unexpected aspect of it is little details that you wouldn't expect on a speaker. For example, there's one that is called the extreme which has a

zipper at the back, you don't expect to have a zipper.

[00:15:37] That is a splashproof zipper that hides all the connectors to make it look clean and look like a seamless piece of fabric. And that's something that is really unexpected. Those are the three pillars that we used. And they're still used now in 2022, and it was created in 2014. So, if you look at the evolution of the devices now, they still function around those principles. And for me, that was like the best thing ever. Because it was working and bringing a vision that can last a really long time and evolve with the people and with the technology but still have the same essence at its core. 

[00:16:16] Then you have another device that was designed during the same time by me which is called FLIP3, that has like a translucent, over-molded plastic on top to actually make it really robust. Cause when you drop it, it always drops on like an over-molded rubber piece. And you have like the fabric that is wrapping everything else. With the play of colors and all these different things, you have something really

interesting to have like that little trunk and that's the unexpected part.

[00:16:46] It was having that translucency and that little edge that was not seen in a portable speaker at that point. Those are the things that was really great. I really loved the fact that I was able to get that opportunity and have a team that trusts you.

[00:17:01] This was not done because they were still quite young. I think at that point, the design center itself only was two years old or three years old. So, they didn't have all these heavy guidelines. And so, they allowed you to create the guidelines. That's always something that is rewarding because you see it evolve. And nowadays I still see products that they make and I'm like, oh, that's really cool. I can still see some elements of what created this at this period in time. 

[00:17:30] Adrian (Host): Well, thank you for that. All those JBL speakers, I have to say, I've probably used most of them at some stage. It's always a pleasure to be meeting one of the team who put it together.

[00:17:39] But especially with you explaining your thoughts and taking it back to those designs, there was a lot of, you know, the colors, the materials, the finishes felt very tactile. The small labels sticking off with the branding and the zippers and even this

kind of smooth finishes. We both kind of grew up in a time of product design, going very fast, very quickly evolving and around when people were discovering what Apple were doing with industrial design and then kind of the going against those and trying to include perhaps more tactility.

[00:18:18] So, have we reached peak product design? Is this as good as it gets for product design? 

[00:18:24] Fenoson: That's actually a really good question because when you look at it, you have like now website, like leManoosh. I don't know if you know it. It's a blog that has a lot of really cool curated designs that they share.

[00:18:36] When you look at inspiration, a lot of products are almost like merging into the same kind of language and the same kind of look and feel. That's because I think of minimalism and about like Dieter Rams' 10 principles of design that is still really ingrained in every single one of us.

[00:18:55] And still really works really well, I think. But I believe that industrial design needs to go into a next step. It's going to be hard but it's going to be that sustainability part of it. That's where we are going to innovate next. So, I see it more and more. So, now I work here in Sydney in an agency called Design + Industry in Sydney. And more and more of the clients, even us, as designers are pushing to use more renewable sources of material, trying to make a secular economy and really think about how do we make sure that whatever we designing today can be recycled in the end of the products life.

[00:19:35] And that's something I know that I studied in school, but then it's really hard to implement it because you have the business side where you actually need to make money. And at one point, making something sustainable at like 10 years ago was really,

really expensive, really niche or you had to use a really simple product, like, okay. If you're making a wallet, use leather. If you source your leather properly, it would be quite sustainable cause just buy the grade and it's all good. But when you start thinking about products that has like a PCB, that has like a speaker inside, that has plastic, it was always so hard to make it work.

[00:20:13] And I think now more and more, it's getting a little bit easier because you have companies that are coming with new materials. I'm actually working on a project when one company I found had like this really cool material called NFC. They use natural fibers to mimic fiberglass. You have fiberglass and then you have resin on top and that creates any shapes you want. The properties of the material is actually quite

robust. And it's a material that you use on boats and cars and other things.

[00:20:47] So these guys, instead of using fiberglass, they use fabric. And that natural fabric then is coated with a resin that is also made of 60% natural. Then what happens at the end of the life if you burn it, you actually will not release that much toxin, and you can burn it. And you can leave it. And it'll biodegrade, even if it's a combination of two different things, which is usually what happens. Because when you create a product, people will say plastic but most of the time it's ABS plus PC. So, it's two different plastic that is merged together to create something stronger, but then you cannot have that kind of plastic be able... Yeah, you can't separate, two different things. 

[00:21:32] So, I think sustainability is going to be a really good challenge for industrial designers. And that's why I think there's still that step that is coming. I see it more

and more. People even like just in their conceptual designs are using recycled plastic with speckles.

[00:21:49] A lot of cork is used now cause that's quite sustainable. Wood is coming back just because if you source it properly, of course, it's sustainable. Aluminum. But for example, for aluminum, you need to actually differentiate different types of aluminum. So, you have like the grade A and the grade B. If you put those together and you didn't know that they were different, that will downgrade your aluminum.

[00:22:12] But if you are able to keep them separate and always recycle them with each other, you don't lose anything. That's why I think, yeah, it's going to be interesting but for now it's big companies like Apple, Adidas, who can create because they control a

little bit more than manufacturing. 

[00:22:32] So, they are the ones that needs to really push, and then that will hopefully come down to everybody else at the end. Because at the end of the day all the companies go to the same manufacturers. So, when those manufacturers have goals that are to make sustainable things because that's what the company wants but also that's what the user wants and that's what is needed for the environment.

[00:22:56] Then that will go and start spreading in all the different areas. And hopefully, that will give us a lot of jobs to do. And a lot of sustainable products in the future. 

[00:23:07] Adrian (Host): So, there is a future post where we are now. It may be that we look at plastic products, especially disposable plastic products, as quaint or retro or really going backwards.

[00:23:20] So, few more questions. After fabrication, after the types of manufacturing, will we be growing products, for example, will we be then using AI to control those growth processes and control the machines that make them? What are you excited for,

for the future of consumer product design?

[00:23:40] Fenoson: I did see some AI trying to make designs where you input some information and then they show you a bunch of Iterations of what that would be based on what your input in them. It's still in its infancy, but it looks promising. You still need humans because, at the end, it's that thing where we need to translate in a product what a human need and that is still quite emotional.

[00:24:06] So, it's still something that needs a lot of emotion and human touch for me. You could always select something but I don't know if AI would be able to grasp that at this point, probably in the future. They may be able to grasp exactly what someone wants and what specific groups of people wants.

[00:24:26] You have like the creatives, you have the really passionate, you have the one that is quite pragmatic and rational. All those are like kind of archetypes of people. I don't know how they, with all the data and everything, they should be able to do it.

[00:24:40] If you wanna know someone today, you just go on the Instagram page, and you kind of know, what do they buy? Where do they eat? What kind of music do they listen to? If you have access to Spotify, if you have access to Instagram and all this stuff, all that data could be fed into an AI that would create products dedicated to that

person.

[00:25:02] I'm sure it's possible and again, how do you actually control that? Because are you like saying, okay. I'm okay for all my information to be sent to this company so they can design all the products that I've always wanted. And I don't know I want today, so it's always that question at the end.

[00:25:19] And for growing like the mushrooms. Mushrooms are really interesting cause the future of shoes being growing and having the sole of the shoe being mushrooms. For example, Adidas. They have, a shoe called FUTURE LOOP where it's all made from recycled plastic but everything is made from recycled plastic. 

[00:25:39] Every single element: the Auto Sol, the upper, the lace, the torsion bar. Then the heat presses it together. So, there's no glue involved. It's just a material that sticks

together and then can just shred the whole thing and we make a shoe with it. So, when you think about mushrooms and other things in the future, I think that kind of reusing garbage to make new things would be really awesome.

[00:26:04] And I know that they're doing it more and more by, going to the ocean and like taking all the garbage of plastic there and trying to figure out which one can we actually recycle. But as I said it’s big companies, that has infrastructure to do it. And hopefully, that will happen.

[00:26:20] So, I don't mind having the same shoe for running for the rest of my life. after six months I just send it back to Adidas. They send me a new pair. It's like a subscription or whatever. And I go to the gym and I do my thing. And when it's over, I send it there. And I know that my impact is a little bit less.

[00:26:38] Those are the things that I'm really excited about when they're starting to actually be more and more public and less of an idea of something that is out there. And there's also like researchers, I think in the US, University of Texas. What they did is

they have an enzyme that actually can eat plastic in 24 hours. And I'm like, oh, that would be so awesome. If you actually had in your house, just a device, you have this little pill you put it inside. You put all your plastic garbage. You just turn it on, use a little bit of energy. But what you have at the end is something that is a raw material that you can then either dispose of or sell to recreate plastic.

[00:27:21] But then you don't have the need to bring new plastic to the world and create more of them. I think we have enough already. We should just figure out how to use the ones that we have and give them a second life somehow. And all this is really

interesting to be able to do that in the future. And I hope we'll be able to do it. 

[00:27:39] Adrian (Host): You've brought so many points I like to talk about here internally as well. We talk about mushrooms and plastic. Plastic is not a bad material. We just don't use it in the correct ways. Right. We just use it in a very wasteful way. Perhaps with going back to products that last longer. I have a camera lens that's 60 years old that I use very frequently on my modern camera. Hopefully, we'll go back to products. Like you said, shoes and things that last longer or that are replaceable and that are more sustainable as well. And we are using the right materials for those. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.

[00:28:15] Have you got any examples to take you back to Madagascar? Have you got any interesting examples of Malagasy products or small cultural things, perhaps the way things are done that you find interesting that you'd like to share? 

[00:28:30] Fenoson: There's a lot of crafts and knitting there. So, my sisters are actually, starting a company. It's to create sustainable clothing for kids, for babies. So, it's like all the nappies and I don't know what to call the things that you wear on your neck. So, all those different things that are sometimes made in a way that you show them. Where you can actually just rush it. They're doing it in a way where they're using women to create it. We are also working with an association that helps women that are

deaf and who cannot speak to actually learn the craft of knitting. 

[00:29:05] So, you can work with them and ask them like, oh, can you make this? And then they will do it for you and you pay them, of course. And they then learn a craft like that. So, that is really interesting.

[00:29:15] And I've watched on Netflix, a show, about African designers called Made by Design. Where you see African designers and how they work and how do they bring the culture into the work? And it's always them working with craftsmen cause that's where the culture is. And that's where that aspect of things is. Bringing that and empowering the African population by doing so. And I'm kind of helping them with like branding a little bit. And with like looking into things, saying if that design for me looks good or not because you still need to appeal somehow to people nowadays and to make sure that whatever we are doing is still quite minimal and look quite nice and feel nice.

[00:30:01] Cause at the end we are creating it in Madagascar. It's always that thing where if you want to be able to actually grow and also show what your country can do, you need to go outside of that country. Hopefully, Madagascar now starts to have some infrastructure. We going to build the biggest port in the capital. So, that's going to be really good to bring goods and stuff. And you have the port that is getting extended. That port will be able to then ship more things. So, hopefully, all that will enable little companies like my sisters to actually flourish and reach a little bit more people.

[00:30:40] Adrian (Host): That's really exciting. Look forward to hearing more about it and once they launch, they're welcome to get in touch with us as well. Have you got any, either anything other stories you really wanted to add or any questions for myself or for the audience?

[00:30:54] Fenoson: Maybe my question is like since you are on the ground and you are actually involved in it, day to day. How do you see Africa moving forward? We see Africa as the next big continent that is going to actually boom.

[00:31:09] And it's starting in certain countries like Zambia, Kenya South Africa, Angola a little bit. But since you're there and you actually see. How is the industry going? I know that architecture is always a big thing. So, architecture is always one thing in Africa that always look really great.

[00:31:27] And is taking more and more space but maybe more like into that, industrial design or like furniture and aspects of things like, what do you see? Are we going to be able to actually sustainability do industrial? Cause that's what I want. I want it to start from a good point, instead of polluting. Figuring out how to actually start it in a way that it doesn't destroy our environment. Like what they're doing in China, where it's actually destroying the water sources, the soil, and everything. Because was like, let's just produce, produce, produce.

[00:32:04] And then we figure that out later with technology. Africa, since it's just like the beginning and things are just like starting, maybe there's a way to actually start the right way and show everybody else. This is actually how you're supposed to do it. If you want to stay sustainable and make something for everybody and uplift everybody.

[00:32:23] Adrian (Host): Yeah. Exciting question. First of all, I think the design that is most commonly recognized it's either fashion or interior or architecture. Though most people may not even see architecture as a form of design from the outside.

[00:32:38] When I was growing up, I thought as industrial designers, we want to place products into as many people's hands as possible. As an architect, you want to place as many people as possible into your design. Industrial designers aim to reach millions.

Architects aim to reach millions by bringing them to their design. I think what we are seeing is definitely now, a lot more people have the ability to make their own decisions. And what that means is companies like your sisters' where the design is coming from the inside rather than the things that are being put onto the continent. So, it's not someone else deciding from the outside that we need to have an injection molding machine or an extrusion molder that makes this many bottles or something.

[00:33:27] It's more about saying, what do we need? And taking from the culture. Actually, we all should be learning from each other's cultures. The world should be learning from African cultures and that's self-imposed. What do we want to do is I think a really, really big thing now that's really crucial?

[00:33:48] So, that's where we've seen things going. And we do see potential for product design, industrial design, especially when it comes to recycled materials and taking the raw resources that have been thrown here and now actually trying to do something with them. Definitely, people inspired by culture taking whether it's materials such as red clay, for example, taking the properties of those materials, learning from biomimicry like we've seen buildings that are based on termite mounds or even just from the culture and the stylistic cues. And the way that if you now are going to design an African speaker or an African-inspired pair of headphones, what might that look like?

[00:34:33] And what advantages might that give us? What new features might we come up with? Just thinking about communal music sharing, right? Things like that. That's in brief what I think. 

[00:34:44] Fenoson: Yeah. That sounds awesome. And I think that's true. There is one thing that in Africa, we do really well.

[00:34:50] For example, in Madagascar. Once you finish drinking your soda, Coca-Cola, and all these brands, they were all in and they're still today in glass bottles that you

would bring back to the shop and get pocket money. And with that pocket money, you buy your little snacks and stuff.

[00:35:05] And that's something that needs to be more broadly ingrained into society in Africa to just make sure that we don't need to have like one plastic bag for every single thing or all these different things. I hope that what you're saying is going to actually flourish. Looking forward to seeing that.

[00:35:23] Hopefully be part of it.

[00:35:25] Adrian (Host): Absolutely. I grew up in Poland refunding glass bottles and now it seems, Africa and Kenya as well, we're using more plastic and with the portions are getting smaller. So, now the lifespan of a plastic bottle or a plastic bag is the five seconds it takes you to use the bottle and throw it away. And then it's the hundreds or thousands of years afterward that we need to be thinking about as well. 

[00:35:48] Wow. Thank you. This has been awesome. It's really great to meet you and to hear about your work process and your story. 

[00:35:56] Have you got any questions? Anything you'd like people to contact you about or reach out to you about and where can they find you? 

[00:36:03] Fenoson: People usually find me on LinkedIn. I have a lot of young designers that just somehow, I don't know how to do it, stumbles on my profile and start sending me messages about what they should do, what kind of career they should have.

[00:36:16] Should they go into more like a design agency or like an in-house design center? What's the difference between both? So, those are things that I'm always really happy to help people with, or like just reviewing their portfolio sometimes. So, on

LinkedIn is my first name and last name. It's Fenoson Zafimahova. And I should be the only one with that name. If you see a woman, that's my sister and it's almost the same, but a little bit different the way you write that first name. I have like a Behance page. Just look for my name on Behance and you will find me. And any material that is on there is something that is already public and you can just screenshot and use it as you want.

[00:36:57] Adrian (Host): Amazing. It's been amazing. You've been amazing. Thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday. Bye. 

[00:37:02] Fenoson: Thanks, bye. 

[00:37:04] Hosts (Adrian/Naitiemu): Coming up next time is Ifeoma Dike, an entrepreneur who's disrupting the business of art curation and distribution. She's the CEO of I D D U K, a social enterprise that supports artists across the continent, working with partners to improve the ecosystem for creatives and paying due consideration to the wider collective social impact of investing into art from Africa.

[00:37:28] If you have any ideas for episodes we should do, people we should host on the show, please let us know. We're really, really interested in hearing your thoughts. And if you've made it this far, a review would mean so much to us as well, on whichever

platform you are listening to us on. Or even a recommendation to one of your friends or through a tweet.

[00:37:50] We hope to get these stories out there to more people. I'm Adrian Jankowiak and my co-host is Naitiemu. This episode was edited by David King'ori with music by Ngalah and Mercy Barno. Thank you for tuning in to Afrika Design.

Episode Credits

Produced by Nairobi Design Week

Hosts: Naitiemu and Adrian Jankowiak

Editor: David King'ori

Shorts & Artwork: Felix Owaga

Music: Ngalah Oreyo (@ngalah_oreyo) and Mercy Barno (@merc.b_)


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