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Visitors to the Afrofuture exhibition in Milan built light-up glasses from recycled materials at a workshop organised by Maker Faire Africa.

The workshop was an example of the larger two to three day events that Maker Faire Africa put on in African cities for local makers to exhibit and develop their designs for gadgets or products.

"The concept is that people come together to show their ad hoc inventions that they've made in their garages, basements or studios," said Jennifer Wolfe of Maker Faire Africa, who organises the workshops.

"In Africa, the inventions tend to be focussed on items that solve immediate and fundamental needs - issues such as agriculture, health and electricity."

At Afrofuture, a series of African-oriented design talks and activities, designer Cyrus Nganga from Nigeria helped visitors create their own versions of his C-Stunner glasses.

The decorative glasses are built from old spectacle frames and recycled wire, metal or other found materials.

Technology expert David Olaniyan was on hand to help integrate arduinos with the designs so LEDs could be programmed to flash.

"We're trying to bring together some of these emerging technologies with grass root strategies, which you need to couple togther in a place like Africa," Wolfe told Dezeen.

Maker Faire is a global initiative that runs public workshops for designers to showcase their inventions and Maker Faire Africa has amassed a community of makers across the continent that have presented over 400 inventions.

Wolfe presented other projects championed by Maker Faire Africa during the event, including a generator than can produce six hours of electricity with one litre of urine and conductive woven textiles.

Maker Faire Africa has been running for five years and operates in Ghana, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria, and has introduced 3D printers to Cairo and Lagos as part of its programme.

The organisation aims to help designers market their products and find funding, as well as introduce them to technologies that could make their items more useful and consumer friendly.

The Afrofuture exhibition took place at the La Rinascente department store in Milan during the city's design week last month and was curated by Beatrice Galilee.


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