A meeting with Aïda Ahouanmenou, deputy director of Africa Design School. Founded two years ago in Benin, the school has about 50 students. Projects, ambitions and teaching methods at Africa Design School.
Can you tell us how the Africa Design School was created, its mission and its link with L’École de design Nantes Atlantique?
For L’École de design Nantes Atlantique, the trigger was a call for projects published in 2017 aimed at building an international-scale campus in Benin that would house training centers, vocational schools, universities, research laboratories, incubators and so on.
In response, L’École de design Nantes Atlantique presented a project for a design training establishment, which was accepted.
The Africa Design School initiative began and soon became a reality with the support of the Sèmè City Development Agency.
Since then, we have built on the experience of the Nantes-based structure founded in 1988 and we are working to train design specialists capable of:
- supporting companies reinventing their way of doing business (by opting for the digitalization of their services for example),
- proposing innovative solutions, adapted to the users according to their needs, in a global context of change.
What training programs are offered? Who are they aimed at?
There are two courses, accessible to all students with a baccalaureate:
- Digital design to develop innovative services in all sectors of activity (design of mobile applications, websites, connected objects) and improve user experiences;
- Graphic design to train professionals who will design graphic elements to help identify a company or an organization, effective signage to facilitate the flow of people, product packaging based on environmentally responsible materials etc.
At the beginning of the 2021 school year, a new program is planned, dedicated to the design and layout of interior and exterior spaces.
What are the specific features of the school and the programs taught there? (methodology, vocational dimension, etc.)
Africa Design School is the first to offer a Bachelor’s degree in a creative discipline in Benin. Secondly, project-based teaching because design is a discipline of creation and innovation through projects.
It is the concrete experience, the practical application of theoretical and technical lessons, and the innovative methodology that forge the future designer.
It is important here to mention the role of companies, key partners who promote the professionalization of students through internships.
Among the programs, we can mention digital languages, the history of design, tools of expression, 2D and 3D computer graphics, technologies and materials...
How are the studies supervised (teaching staff, etc.)?
The educational team is composed of a coordinator, professional teachers and lecturers who teach the courses and supervise the students. With the education officer, they are mobilized on and off site, on every trip.
What are the school’s development projects?
We currently have various projects including:
- becoming a landmark school for the subregion;
- increasing the choice of continuing education programs,
- welcoming self-taught designers or other profiles keen to learn or improve their design skills.
In conclusion, what is the added value of the young designers who will soon graduate from ADS?
The ability to question, with their cultural background, the adequacy of solutions or answers to given problems.