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Welcome to the third season of Behind the Design. As excited as I am to be welcoming you to the season I am also feeling the weight of a period of fear, turmoil, uncertainty, frustration, and just plain overwhelming tiredness.

This season was recorded against the backdrop of the biggest seismic shifts our world has faced in recent times. A global pandemic that put the world on hold changing the way we live, work, and play. And the worldwide demonstrations in the wake of the shocking and distressing murder of George Floyd which gave rise to racial tensions that reached boiling point and overspilled in a way that has not been seen in several generations.

All this has forced us to take a long hard look at ourselves as individuals, as a community, as a society, as a world, and the consequences turning a blind eye to environmental and societal issues that affect us all have on our shared humanity. Kindness and looking out for each other became a prevailing theme of life in lockdown. And is a theme we need to take forward to embrace the good and to challenge the status quo. How we treat each other has come under the microscope, particularly as the world finally wakes up to the treatment, violence, and indifference that Black people have had to endure not just in the US but the world over. Protests like this are not new, and as we know for real change to become permanent action needs to happen. 

atelier 55 was started as a platform to celebrate and shine the light on the mostly invisible voices shaping Africa’s design. Our values are to celebrate, create, connect, and challenge. Advocating for greater global representation where there is none. We have and continue to do this through our various channels the editorial blog, this podcast, writing and publishing, curating, and consulting with cultural organisations to get more African voices heard and included in the global design dialogue. The journey has been far from easy. But with each step taken and joining hands with an ever-growing community of creatives committed to African design hope exists in a future where designers no longer have to be singled out by their race so that they can be seen but to be singled out because they are good designers and deserve recognition.

In the episodes and those from previous seasons you will hear the frustrations, you will hear the challenges, but so too will you hear the determinations, the self-belief to keep going and push through.

I do wonder what the permanent legacy of all this will be. By the time this podcast series ends many of us will have emerged or begun to emerge from the tight lockdown restrictions and will be navigating our new reality. Only time will tell how much things have really changed for the better.

– Tapiwa

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