Mauritius has long been known as the star and the key of the Indian Ocean, but that is not all there is to this tiny, beautiful island. Boasting a colourful fusion of cultures, cuisine, language, lifestyle and the arts, it has the potential to be the star and the key of branding and design in this part of the world.
So says FCBCread CEO and ECD, Vino Sookloll, claiming that the country has experienced a boom in the branding, design and communication industry in recent years, and is becoming known as a regional hub for branding and design with promising creativity originating from its unique mix of cultures.
“Brimming with fresh, young and enthusiastic talent, there’s an increase specialised design courses available, as well as a variety of advertising and branding-related events and festivals all year round, to celebrate the best of creativity,” he says.
“To quote a few, there’s the ACA Design Festival, launched in 2017 and held once every two years; the Regional African Cristal Awards; and the Brand Magic Summit, a convention that assembles influential names in branding and advertising, which has been occurring yearly since 2015.
“These events and festivals have roused great interest among local creatives, bringing international branding rockstars to Mauritius — Ravi Naidoo, founder of Design Indaba, who graced the first ever ACA Design Festival with his presence; the renowned Piyush Pandey, Chief Creative Officer Worldwide and Executive Chairman of Ogilvy in India, also known as The Economic Time’s ‘most influential man in advertising’; and Philip Thomas, the CEO of the prestigious Cannes Lions Festival.”
· Kreol, the hidden treasure of Mauritius
Mauritius, previously uninhabited by humans, has welcomed immigrants from different places of the world — mainly Africa, India, China, and Europe. The island boasts a mishmash of different cultures and flavours, which have all contributed to a colourful and unique expression of creativity. While these different cultures never completely left their individuality to become completely fused with one another, something entirely different is being birthed through the youth — new words are being invented, new expressions being created. Mauritian Kreol, a whole new way of communicating, to bring Mauritius together in a contemporary way.
Sookloll says this new and ongoing trend includes recent ventures such as Porlwi by Light, a festival of contemporary culture held in the capital city of Port-Louis (Porlwi is the written Kreol version of this name). Porlwi by Light is a festival where ingenious light and sound have been used to dress up the historical landmarks of the capital city, thus creating a stunning guided tour. Needless to say, the three years in which this event has been held, were lit.
“Another example is the very popular little magazine, “Koze Mag.” Koze in Kreol means “talk”. It is a handy pocket magazine, distributed freely, target middle to high-income Mauritians, as well as being a beacon of information for tourists and expats.
“There’s also Moka, once an old village, which is being transformed into modern urban Smart City mainly targeted to high-income potential residents. Moka’mwad, a creative pun involving ‘Moka,’ and the words “mo kamwad” which mean ‘my friend,’ is a concept devised to bring together the old village and the new vision together.
“The country’s quaint old Chinatown has seen a wave of modernity thanks to the youth of the Sino-Mauritian community. From graffiti, to wall paintings, to awe-inspiring sculptures of dragons created out of recycled materials, the street art of young Chinatown has impressed greatly with its fresh and contemporary take on street art, with the aim to integrate elements from the different cultures present in Mauritius, to the point of becoming pieces of art that are held in high esteem. Chinatown is barely recognisable after being artistically scoured by its youth — and we’re loving it,” Sookloll says.