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Maki & Mpho Modern Luxury African Design Where Asia Meets Africa

SEVEN - Self-tie Diamond Tip Double-sided Bow Tie - Maki & Mpho

With Father’s Day on the horizon, Sunday 21st June for those who need reminding, I thought it would be apt to introduce a brand that focuses its creative attentions on our menfolk. Maki & Mpho, is a US-based textile brand that ‘celebrates the African renaissance’, by working with African designers to develop modern sophisticated prints for menswear accessories. Defining modern luxury African design the collections include elegant ties, pocket squares and bow ties made from silk twill.
[Main image credit: SEVEN – Self-tie Diamond Tip Double-sided Bow Tie – Maki & Mpho]

Founded by Maki Nakata and Mpho Muendane, Maki & Mpho is also a celebration of East meets South, or to put it another way Asia meets Africa, a reflection of the founders multi-cultural backgrounds. Maki who refers to herself as a ‘cosmopolitan entrepreneur’ is of Japanese heritage, and US-born Mpho is an award-winning textile designer and university lecturer of Mozambican, Zambian, Tanzanian and South African heritage.
[Image credit: top, WISDOM – Pocket Square;
UBUNTU – Modern Necktie – Maki & Mpho]
Inspired by Africa’s diverse cultures Maki & Mpho’s latest collection, Hamba, features hand drawn illustrations by co-founder Mpho, and embodies collective African values that impact life’s journey. Hamba is a Zulu word that means amongst others to walk, to journey, or to move forward. The Hamba collection features two signature designs, Sweet Grass and Kwakwa, each telling the stories of different journeys.
[Image credit: SWEETGRASS – Hamba Collection Design – Maki & Mpho]
The central theme of the Sweet Grass design is the ‘I am because we are’ philosophy of Ubuntu, depicted through layered motifs that represent and honour generations of ancestors tracing the journey of human life from the early civilization of ancient Kemet, and the fundamental practice to support each other and co-exist with nature, ever relevant in our modern lives.
[Image credit: Kwakwa – Hamba Collection Design – Maki & Mpho]
The Kwakwa design is inspired by an imaginary bird of the same name; a crossbreed of the crown crane and the guinea fowl. Upholding Africa’s oral traditions, the Kwakwa symbolizes the journey of spiritual growth and is based on the Sangoma’s (witch doctor) spiritual beliefs of the cycles of reincarnation. This is depicted in the design’s deconstruction and juxtaposition of different parts of the bird to create a Cubism-style of the bird’s form.
Additional details:
Maki & Mpho current collection priced at: USD$40-USD$155
For further information about Maki & Mpho visit:

[Image credits: All images belong to Maki & Mpho. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]

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  • 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
  • Instagram Image
  • Colourful basketry, soulful sculpture and an elegant candle make a nice placeholder we think, as we prepare to usher in a new chapter of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Gifted hands. A glimpse behind the scenes of Kaross a South African based embroidery initiative, whose artisans transform furnishings into works of art. [📷 credit: Kaross]
  • Tools of the trade, a hand carved printing block stamp by textile designer @juliekouamo whose evocative designs tell the stories of cultures past and present. Julie's textiles feature richly layered patterns, textures and printed pictures that come together to create vibrant collages. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]
  • Fishermen's boats, a familiar sight along the Senegalese coast line. [📷 credit: @tapiwamatsinde]

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