Slanted - Special Issue: Rwanda

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"Many asked us: Why the hell did you go to Rwanda and how did you even get the idea? To answer these questions, a little segue into the past is necessary. Way back in 2012 Lars Harmsen was sitting in the jury of the Design Award Rhineland-Palatinate, awarded by the descom Design forum Rhineland-Palatinate. In 2018 Julia Kahl has been invited to be part of the jury and it was there that she found out about the project to showcase Rhineland-Palatinatean design in Rwanda–and the other way around. To this end, descom has conceived an exhibition that has been implemented in cooperation with the Partnership Association Rhineland-Palatinate/Rwanda (Jumelage) in Kigali and showed projects from both countries.

This project has gained our attention and we wanted to take a look at the up-and-coming creative scene in Rwanda ourselves. But the country also impressed us in other ways: Plastic bags? They are absolutely forbidden there since 2004. Environmental management is being decentralized from the political to the local level, leading to a widespread understanding on how to preserve the environment. On the last Saturday of the month, for example, every citizen is obliged to tidy up the streets. Since this year, no more old clothes from the West may be imported to Rwanda—this could create around 25,000 new jobs and the textile industry is flourishing.

To see a developing country implement and carry out such legislations is ground-breaking. It goes to show; anything can be possible if the political will really exists and true efforts are made. So, we have to say it again: Rwanda showed us how it’s done!

It’s now our honor to present a few outstanding personalities as well as many good stories besides some “design eye-candy” in this Slanted special issue."

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