Assistant X Another Africa | Constructing New Experiences

Another Africa is about bringing a new vision to stories about Africa and the intersections that happily occur when people of different cultures find points of interest in this magical continent. For our latest experience, we travel to Tokyo to participate in an ephemeral 2 day event, D♥Y held at Claska earlier this month.

Assistant x Another Africa

The pop up shop format has become quite common place in the retail landscape. Assistant, a Tokyo-based interdisciplinary design practice takes this format to a clever new level, making it into a super micro pop-up store; one that could ideally travel to different locations such as art house book stores and museum shops. The shop itself is the wonderful capsule toy machine also known in Japanese as “Gacha-Gacha,” the onomatopoeic word for clatter. A piece of nostalgia really, given that many of us particularly in our childhood were enchanted with the idea of putting a coin into one of those machines to have a surprise toy come rolling out.  Together with Assistant, we decided to make it an especially unique surprise, by sharing a secret memento from Africa. For those of our readers, that have been following us since our recent start, you are now probably familiar with the city of Asmara, the capital of Africa’s newest nation, Eritrea. This city located in the highlands of Eastern Africa, is home to the world’s largest and most experimental concentration of modernist architecture. For numerous reasons, the main being that this region has been plagued with political instability which continues even now, it has remained hidden to the outside world. The publication of the book, Asmara, Africa’s Secret Modernist City in 2003, has brought increased awareness and focus to Asmara’s rich architectural heritage.

To celebrate and commemorate this world wonder, Assistant X Another Africa created a limited edition collection of 8 badges. Each badge showcasing a beautifully hand-drawn architectural sketch or design of the period; a memento of Africa’s Modernist Architectural Secret.

There are more than 400 protected heritage sites in Asmara, each expressions of some of the most radical and experimental interpretations of modernist architecture from the 1920’s to the 1940’s. The styles ranging from Futurism, Art Deco, Neo-Classicism, Novecento to predominantly Rationalist, the later representing about 75% or the buildings.

During the two day event,  Megumi Matsubara and Hiroi Ariyama of Assistant, put on the cap of architectural emissaries speaking with visitors, young and old. Another Africa founder, Missla Libsekal, joined too via skype sessions from New York sharing her experiences and knowledge of the city with the pleasantly surprised visitors.

Another Africa would like to thank Assistant for the kind invitation to participate and collaborate on a wonderful project. The happy faces in the photos are indicative of the project’s success.


About Assistant

Established in 2002, Assistant is a contemporary and innovative interdisciplinary design office based in Tokyo, practicing internationally.
They are a leading creative firm whose founders, Megumi Matsubara, Hiroi Ariyama & Motohiro Sunochi share a common starting point, each possessing an architectural education, yet who uniquely have evolved their practice and philosophy by freely embracing expression in various fields beyond architecture. Their progressive approach and methodologies have led them to commissions and self-initiated projects in the fields of the visual arts, commercial interiors, new and emerging technologies in the digital domain, urban research, lectures and consultancy.


For Badge inquires

For interest and inquiries on how to get one of these wonderful badges, please submit requests to

Architectural sketch drawings courtesy of Asmara Africa’ s Secret Modernist City by Edward Denison, Guang Yu Ren, Naigzy Gebremedhin published by
Merrell Publishers Limited 2003.

Triple AAA logo graphic done by swedish wonder and Another Africa fan, PMKFA. The love is mutual!

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