Kossi Assou, Pioneer of African Design

Bench “Bikla”, 2003 (source: Univers de Kossi ASSOU)
Bench “Bikla”, 2003 (source: Univers de Kossi ASSOU)

Who is Kossi Assou?

Accomplished contemporary artist, Kossi Assou is a visual artist, cultural entrepreneur, exhibition curator and a university professor. Born in 1958 in Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast, the artist now resides in Lomé (Togo). He is a pioneer of African design and one of the most influential African artists of his generation. He deeply marked the African contemporary art with his works.

Thanks to his work, Kossi Assou has traveled the world for decades. He has been part of various individual as well as collective art exhibitions all over the world (Togo, Africa, Europe, Asia and the USA).

Kossi Assou
Kossi Assou

His Art Elements

Kossi Assou is one of the artists whose work involves various elements such as wood and metal, which are symbols of solidity, fragility and eternity. His works also include various other materials such as marble, granite, canvas, paper, plastic and many more.

The renowned artist’s body of work often relied on found objects which inscribe the African man to modernity. He re-works these objects to impart new meaning, by combining iron, wood, vegetable fibres and other elements into very original and decorative compositions. The end product defines a relationship with his own self where history, archeology, science, technology and philosophy make it authentic.

Black, kaolin white and red ochres are usually dominant colors and his furniture designs can be distinguished by decorative pictorial elements strategically incorporated.

Out of the Box Contemporary Art

In a few words: sobriety, simplicity, friendliness. This is a description of Kossi Assou’s work. The art of design is to provide practical and aesthetic answers to the problems incurred in man’s existence. In his own words, functionality should be the first essence of an object and that is before being beautiful. Only then reproducibility can be considered.

Among his many creations, there is the “slim bed”. A bed made of a sheet, with a log serving as headrest and a wheel to be able to move it. This piece of furniture strongly resembles a sculpture and is highly aesthetic. The view of this pure design, deep emotions of fascination arise followed by a feeling of hesitation. Yet, the furniture is not inhibited by religious connotation even if reference to tradition can be felt, it still remains invisible.

«Slim Bed», 2009, de Kossi Assou. Photo: Archives musée Dapper et Dominique Cohas
«Slim Bed», 2009, de Kossi Assou. Photo: Archives musée Dapper et Dominique Cohas

Artist Background

Kossi Assou is a graduate of the Abidjan School of Fine Arts. He authored various contemporary art exhibitions around the world including France, Italy, England, Holland, Germany, South Korea, Algeria, Rwanda, Canada, South Africa, United States of America, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Haiti, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Benin, Congo, Madagascar, Reunion Island, etc. His name is often associated with prestigious collections.

Various Togolese and African publications are devoted to Kossi Assou. He is not one to promote only his work, the artist also promotes other African artists as a curator, cultural entrepreneur or teacher. Since 2004, Assou has been a cultural expert for the “Jeux de la Francophonie”. He is a member of several international juries. Ewolé and Afrodesign are two events created by him to increase the visibility of contemporary Togolese and African creations worldwide.

He founded the “Dynamic Tre-Kha” an affirmation movement for the endogenous African values for a dignified and peaceful future. Assou is a teacher of art and design at EAMAU (African School of Architecture and Urban Planning) and at the University of Lomé (Togo).

Famous African Artist

  • In 2007, Kossi Assou was made a “Trésor Humain Vivant” by the Togolese Ministry of Culture
  • In 2008, he ranked among the 100 most influential men of culture in the world
  • In 2018, he is ranked among the 100 most influential personalities of the year 2018 in Africa
  • In 2018 again, he was made an Officer of the National Order of Merit of Togo.

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