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Ryan Frank Sustainable Furniture Design Referencing Africa

Squishy upholstery on chairs and smooth rounded shapes making up some fun stacking stools form the basis of a range of furniture just begging to be touched and played with. These quirky and innovative designs are from Ryan Frank, a South African designer now residing in London’s trendy and bohemian East End. Having starting his business in 2005 sustainable furniture design is at the core of Ryan’s work. [Image credit: Inkuku Chair – Ryan Frank]

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Hamed Ouattara Sustainable Contemporary African Furniture Design

The contemporary design and art market in Burkina Faso is relatively young, and needs nurturing by those who are becoming successful in the field be it creator or buyer. One such creator doing just that is Hamed Ouattara who creates sustainable contemporary African furniture design products. The innovative fine artist and furniture designer from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso set up Hamed Design International in 2008 with the intention of promoting visual art from Burkina Faso to an international audience. [Image credit: Dogon Chair – Hamed Ouattara]

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Frazer Parfum South African Made Luxury Natural Fragrances

Shrouded in mystery and intrigue; the art of perfumery has to be an incredibly personal process as the perfume maker chooses and blends the scents that essentially please their nose, but at the same time requiring an element of commercial appeal. Frazer Parfum is a niche perfume house based in Cape Town, South Africa; the South African made luxury natural fragrances and scents produced are in essence a fragrant ode to owner and parfumer Tammy Frazer’s travels to the source of the materials used, meeting all those involved in the production and gathering inspiration along the way. Grouped into chapters; each reflecting […]

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African Textiles Aboubakar Fofana Malian Indigo Dye Master

When I lived in Harare, Dendera Gallery in the city centre was a favourite haunt of mine. Close to the studio I worked in, I would spend many a lunch-time browsing and occasionally buying from the fascinating collection of art sourced across the African continent. I fell in love with the beautifully dyed authentic Indigo fabrics, and to this day kick myself for having not bought one… I’m not sure why I didn’t as I kept saying I would, I guess I got caught up in my move to the UK. I still think of them every now and then, […]

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Africa Eco Travel To Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge Rwanda

At first glance Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge itself is relatively unassuming; however it’s the surroundings that grab you first, set in 11 acres of lush, rolling landscape on the edge of the Parc National des Volcans, a premier Africa eco travel tourism destination in North Western Rwanda. [Image credit: Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge – Kiwi Collection]

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Nigerian Heritage Inspires Jewellery Designer Shirley Ephraim

Like glistening dew drops hanging of shimmering silken strands in the early light of dawn, thus I was reminded when I first viewed Costa Rican / Nigerian jewellery designer Shirley Ephraim’s breathtaking organic and free flowing designs. Shirley’s work is hauntingly beautiful; delicate strands of hand woven fibres are combined with rare gemstones, crystals and sterling silver to give the pieces depth whilst managing to maintain the barely there aesthetic. [Image credit: Shirley Ephraim]

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Akoma African Skin Care Male Grooming Gifts For Father’s Day

The closer Father’s Day gets certain businesses must surely see an upsurge in hanky and sock purchases from those who have left it to the last minute. I admit I have been guilty of this at some point, but I always try to get something meaningful and imaginative. How many socks and hankies can one man have anyway! Why not treat the treasured men folk in your life to some loving African skin care, a thoughtful gift that can say a lot if it is the right product. UK-based Akoma Skincare specialises in organic fairly traded products using raw natural ingredients like […]

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Luella Contemporary South African Fashion Shoe Brand

I am on the prowl for a pair of wedges for summer. I covet these knotted espadrille wedges by contemporary South African fashion shoe brand Luella. I know I could find something similar on the British Highstreet, but that’s not the point…I like them. Being a fussy shopper I don’t tend to buy on impulse, I’m happy to browse going back and checking an item until I am satisfied and then purchasing, if it is no longer available then… oh well its on to the next thing. [Image credits: Knotted Espadrilles – Luella on Flickr]

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Stylish Luxury Hat Creations By Milliner Nena Kal Hunter

Today was Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, one of the most anticipated days on the UK’s summer social calendar. I had planned to go this year, but for one reason or another didn’t get round to ordering my tickets on time and part of me is rather glad I didn’t! Today hasn’t been the nicest of days, one where an umbrella would get in the way of showing off your fabulousness given the way the rain has been bucketing down. I shouldn’t complain though the rain is desperately needed after an unseasonably dry spring- it has been rather strange not having […]

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Exclusive Roots Unique Handcrafted African Homeware

  I know recycled magazine mirrors have been around for a few years now, but I think they still look good and came across some on the UK based charity retailer, Exclusive Roots who sell fairly traded and ethical handcrafted African homeware, jewellery, clothing and gifts. Hand rolled tubes made from recycled magazines give structure to these contemporary sunburst mirrors. Designed by Egyptian jewellery designer, Hanan Yanny the mirrors are produced by Wola Nani a non-profit organisation in Khayelitsha, South Africa that works to bring relief to the communities hardest hit by HIV. I covered Wola Nani in an earlier post about their ‘Dreams for Africa’ chair. […]

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African Contemporary Art Zimbabwe Shona Sculpture

Under the skilful hands of a master craftsman or woman cold hard stone gradually yields to the forms it is being coaxed into, eventually giving way to some stunning pieces of sculpture in a process that requires patience, dedication and an understanding of the material being used. Powerful and evocative, Shona Sculpture is a revered artform sought by collectors across the globe. Instantly recognisible and spawning many an imitation; Shona Sculpture as an artform started in the late 1950s and has, and continues to produce noted artists; amongst them: Nicholas Mukomberanwa, Henry Munyaradzi, John Takawira (all late), Dominic Benhura and Colleen […]

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Oliberté Made In Africa Footwear Profiled On CNN

‘…we never have and still don’t see an Africa that’s categorised by negative generalisations’ one company’s response to an oft asked question as to why anyone would ever consider trying to establish and run a successful business in Africa. Well footwear brand Oliberté, the company in question is attempting to do just that and are in good company if some of the inspirational and pioneering African businesses I have shared are anything to go by. Canadian social entrepreneur, Tal Dehtiar established Oliberté two years ago amidst the challenges of finding financial backers willing to help him realise his vision of a […]

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Lalesso Chic Kanga Print Eco African Fashion Brand

Implementing a strategy of focussing solely on producing perennially summer collections combined with visually compelling imagery has worked to instil eco African fashion brand  Lalesso firmly in the minds of those seeking beautiful yet relaxed summer and holiday resort wear. I have lost count of the number of Lalesso dresses and skirts that have floated towards me in recent years when walking the streets of London. [Image credit: Marefu Dress – Lalesso]

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Threads Of Change Mud Cloth and African Print Accessories

Once upon a time you could just put your mobile into your pocket or bag and just go (…well I still do!); but now ever-rapidly evolving interactive, on-the-go paraphernalia such as handheld computer games, iPhones, Blackberrys, iPads and more are so ingrained in our day-to-day lives we now seek to dress them up as expressions of ourselves whilst keeping them safe – think of the teenage girl with her rhinestone covered mobile phone or the interchangeable ‘skins’ that come in a plethora of colour and pattern. So how about some colourful, distinctive Mud Cloth and African print accessories sleeves from Threads […]

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SafariFusion Juju Hat Bamileke Feather Headdresses

I love Sunflowers; they’re so big bright and happy and was instantly reminded of them when I saw the strikingly colourful Bamileke Feather Headdresses currently available at Australian-based store Safari Fusion. Creating a strong focal point and bringing a burst of colour to virtually any room, these ceremonial headdresses come from Cameroon and are also known as Tyn or Juju hats. [Image credit: Safari Fusion]

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Gone Rural Swaziland Redefining African Basket Design

Picking up from where I left off on my exploration into the different types of basket making found across the continent; I find myself quite taken by these glass bowls edged with a woven basket band. Created by Swaziland-based, Gone Rural who are redefining African basket design I came across them on the US-based Amaridian Gallery, and they give a fresh updated look to the traditional woven basket. The way the basket weaving techniques have been combined with recycled glass has produced some beautiful, unique looking bowls. [image credit: Gone Rural – Amaridian Gallery] A socially responsible business set up by the late Jenny Thorne […]

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Koto Bolofo Photography La Maison Hermès’ Rich Heritage

Koto Bolofo is one of the most prolific fashion photographers of his generation. Born in Lesotho and raised in the UK; the Koto Bolofo photography portfolio includes iconic photography for fashion and lifestyle’s elite from magazines like Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair to editorials and advertising campaigns for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dom Pérignon. Now residing in Vendée, France Koto has several books to his name capturing in print his often evocative photography. [Image credit: Koto Bolofo – La Maison]

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Nessa Luxury Moroccan Inspired Jewellery Design

I have a preference for silver jewellery, so rarely wear or purchase yellow gold jewellery, and although the beautiful finely detailed work of Paris-based jeweller Vanessa Mimran are tempting enough to persuade me to change my mind, there is the option to choose white gold. Vanessa launched her company Nessa in 2006, creating jewellery characterised by 18carat gold filigree work enhanced with diamonds and gemstones, resulting in a very feminine collection of luxury jewellery.  [Image credit: Nessa – CoutureLab]

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Mabeo Botswana Contemporary African Made Furniture

A firm belief in good design, high quality craftsmanship, the use of sustainable raw materials and people development as the building blocks to success has seen Gabarone-based, Mabeo manufacture furniture for large commercial and hospitality projects throughout Botswana for the last ten years. Producing beautifully crafted contemporary African made furniture, the company founded by Peter Mabeo is now beginning to make its way into the international marketplace. [Image credit: Kika Stools – Mabeo]

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  • This popular Africanisim beautifully illustrates the pioneering spirit of togethernes. It highlights how working and collaborating with others can propel you to new heights. Building a business rarely happens in isolation. Atelier Fifty Five seeks to to shine the light on African brands, and this includes extending a hand by sharing our knowledge and expertise to help African brands become the best they can be. So let us go together. Sign up to the Atelier Fifty Five Academy mailing list and join a community of ambitious creative business owners dedicated to creating brands that make their audiences sit up and take notice.⁣
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.  #quotes #inspirationalquotes #motivationalquotes #africanproverb #brandstrategy #creativeentrepreneur  #entrepreneur #mycreativebiz  #brandbuilding #africanstartup #africanbusiness #makeithappen
  • Preserving traditional skills the Kayla cushion by Frida 54 highlights the art of Tritik, a process of knotting and sewing that results in a variety of symmetric patterns. Handwoven with 100% cotton from the cotton mills of northern Cameroon the textiles are dyed with handmade dyes using ancestral techniques. [📷 credit: @frida_54 ]
  • Values . Respecting the design [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Infuse your interior style with the colourful elegance of African beaded necklaces courtesy of The African Woven Necklace light shade by @moderngesture. The design features graduating circular hoops each hand wrapped with colourful woven thread bands. Handcrafted in Cape Town, South Africa by designer Candice Lawrence, the lighting is available in the  Atelier Fifty Five shop. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Eight years ago I started a blog as a place to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa. From the moment I created my first blog post little did I know where the journey would take me. Fast-forward to present day I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry, but to also have an active role in creating awareness about it.

On this journey, I have seen Africa’s design industry grow from a handful of names from a handful countries to a continent wide-reach. Some names that were just starting out have become internationally respected leaders in their field, whilst behind them, a new generation of names are coming up and claiming their place in the industry.

To say that it is an exciting time for African design and creativity would be a gross understatement! We are in a time of rapid advancement and unbridled creative expression, that is setting the foundations and standards for future generations to build on. And like many other emerging industries in Africa, creativity is opening up opportunities to those who are willing to seize them. And seizing them designers are!

And as Atelier Fifty Five begins a new chapter it is an opportunity for me to renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about, and work with to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. 
I invite you to visit our website to discover more. [Link in bio]

Tapiwa, Founder Atelier Fifty Five
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Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive