Man standing against wall with diagonal shadows.

Architect Issa Diabaté and Studio Propolis

IKEA is working with Design Indaba to curate their first ever African collaboration. Meet Issa Diabaté and Bethan Rayner and Naeem Biviji of Studio Propolis.


The architect Issa Diabaté, based in the Côte d’Ivoire, is a co-founder of the Koffi & Diabaté Group and the managing director of Koffi & Diabaté Architects.

He is a firm believer in the power of architecture’s ability to address local economic and social issues.

This belief is mirrored in his contribution to the IKEA collaboration, where Issa’s goal is to design pleasant and functional objects without using costly material and sophisticated material.

“The concerns on quality, price, sustainability, function and form are also dear to me in the architecture I practice. IKEA and Koffi & Diabate share the same ethos with regards to those issues.”

Man and woman standing in front of a wall, smiling.
Bethan Rayner and Naeem Biviji, the duo behind the Nairobi-based design partnership, Studio Propolis.


Bethan Rayner and Naeem Biviji are the husband and wife duo behind the Nairobi-based design partnership, Studio Propolis. Formally trained as architects with plenty of experience in furniture making, they specialise in made-to-order, handcrafted furniture.

The duo’s contribution to IKEA will be very much focused on re-using and re-appropriating different objects, connecting it to the theme of how nothing in Africa is wasted.

“Working with external organisations forces us to look at our own situation in Kenya differently and optimistically. This is a good thing. Design Indaba and IKEA are both juggernauts of inspiration and change.”

Recently, IKEA announced a design collaboration with twelve creatives from seven different countries in Africa and four in-house IKEA designers. At a collective brainstorming session in Älmhult in October 2016, they decided to focus their collaboration on the theme of modern rituals. During the recent Design Indaba conference, all creatives continued developing their ideas in open work sessions. This took place in a specially built house, designed by Issa Diabaté and Kevin Gouriou who are also part of the collaboration.

Design Indaba has become a respected institution in the global creative landscape, based on the foundation of their annual Festival that has attracted and showcased the world’s brightest talent since 1995. Today it comprised of a world-renowned Conference, an online publication, a Social DoTank and an annual Festival of Creativity. In 22 years, the Design Indaba Conference has grown to become one of the world’s leading design events, hosting more than 55 speakers and over 5000 delegates annually.