More and more people are shunning chemically formulated on the shelf beauty products in favour of natural, holistic handcrafted formulations, and the beauty industry has witnessed a rise in brands around the world catering to this need by tapping into their own homegrown beauty rituals and bringing them to global attention. And Africa is no exception. Natural skin care ingredients such as cocoa butter and shea that have been used by African women for centuries are being recognised for their benefits, but we are only just scratching the surface. Fruit of the African soil, ingredients such as baobab, marula, and rooibos are all being used to create luxury natural skin care brands that are proudly made in Africa. And among the names to know is 54 Thrones, a luxury handcrafted beauty brand on a mission to show the Africa we know, by celebrating the continent’s rich diversity in natural resources through skin care.
Salone del Mobile, the prestigious Italian furniture fair opens its doors today offering visitors the very best in international furniture design concepts. Salone del Mobile is also home to SaloneSatellite an event that spotlights promising young designers under 35 by giving them a platform to connect with manufacturers, buyers and talent scouts. Noted for launching the careers of designers such as Oki Sato of Nendo, this year’s SaloneSatellite theme is Africa/Latin America: Rising Design – Design Emergente and as such is presenting a group of designers representing both regions. Among those representing African design is Jomo Tariku, founder of Jomo Furniture who is unveiling a new design, The Nyala chair, which is inspired by the graceful curves of antelope horns; and alongside him Lani Adeoye founder of Studio Lani whose furniture is based on organic forms; and luxury lighting by textile design brand AMWA in collaboration with The Bespoke Boutique. Industrial designer Ifeanyi Oganwu who specializes in combining craft with engineering has previously participated in SaloneSatellite.
London is gearing up for the 2nd dedicated auction of Modern & Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s. This year’s auction sees artworks by 62 artists representing 16 countries: Algeria, Morocco, Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe. The selection of art on offer includes paintings, photographs, drawings and sculpture from the 20th and 21st centuries.
The opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art in Cape Town has brought along a host of different ways for visitors to engage with contemporary art from the exhibitions and installations on display throughout the museum, to a dedicated programme of workshops and talks, to an onsite shop which will enable visitors to find mementos of their visit.
Our choice of art says a lot about who we are, reflecting our tastes and experiences amongst other indicators. And despite digital platforms enabling us to discover original talent the sheer amount of information being put out can sometimes have the opposite effect of making it difficult to find, purchase or remember where we saw artwork that represents who we are in one place. Enter Ayok’a, a curated platform that brings together the work of talented black artists making it easy for you to find stylish, original and representative artwork to adorn your walls or carry about your person in the form of lifestyle accessories. To find out more about this exciting platform I caught up with founder Alice Gbelia. [Main image credit: Black by Adekunle Adeleke]
Please introduce yourself, and tell us a bit about your platform, Ayok’a and the meaning behind the name?
I am Alice Gbelia, an Ivorian who grew up in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Lille (France). I’ve also lived in Paris, London and currently reside in Zurich. My friends know me as a “cultural activist”: any projects I’ve been involved in were about promoting art and culture from the African diaspora. While living in London, I used to have a blog dedicated to Afro-Caribbean events in the city. I also once organized a pop-up shop featuring black designers. Our community is full of talent, I’ve made it a mission to help shine a light on this talent.
Having spent the last seven years bringing you some of the names, designs, and services that have shaped the emergence and development of the creative industries across Africa one cannot help but be inspired by the energy surrounding what is happening; that feeling that anything is possible. Something that can at times be hard to articulate in a post when experiencing it in person can be so much more impactful. And this is the premise of Design Indaba’s Africa.Now initiative and video series, which brings you closer to the action through on-screen interviews with those who are an active part of shaping the story, and at the same time giving you a window into what is happening on the ground through the video’s electric montage of music events, fashion shows, street festivals workshops and more.
The 22nd September 2017 saw the opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (Zeitz MOCAA), in Cape Town, South Africa, heralded as being the first major institution on the African continent dedicated to collecting, researching and preserving the art of contemporary Africa and its diaspora.
African-Print Fashion Now is an exhibition that recognises the significance of the ever-popular African print fabrics. The exhibition at the Fowler Museum explores the diverse and dynamic traditions of African dress; ranging from the styles created by local tailors to those destined for international catwalks.
African textiles offer a fascinating array of colours, patterns, and textures that can instantly transform an interior. But with so much on offer, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start especially for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the fabrics. So to help you get started we caught up with London based textile and interior furnishings designer, Eva Sonaike for her tips on decorating with African textiles. And here is what she had to say…
It is 2017 and I can proudly say that ‘Africa is the New Black’! We launched our new FALOMO RISE Collection at Maison & Objet in Paris earlier this year, the feedback from press and buyers has been great and I was pleasantly surprised to see such a strong and diverse presence of the African aesthetic in the world of design, across many disciplines. Even better, I read an article in a German newspaper, that talked about Ikea’s collaboration with designers from across the African content to develop a new ‘Africa’ collection that will launch in 2019! So I assume you agree with me when I say ‘Africa IS the new black’.
But how do you incorporate African textiles in your home without achieving an over-ethnicized or stereotypical look?
As the seasons change thoughts often turn to a new look or refreshing an existing one. To help you on your way we turned to Thandi Mbali Renaldi, founder of stylish online interiors boutique Kudu for some tips on how to incorporate African Style into modern interiors…
With winter soon drawing to a close here in Europe I am really starting to enjoy the lunchtime spring sunshine that steams through my kitchen window. My thoughts turn to how to refresh our interior in preparation for the change of season. It is time to move things around a little. This will include removing and cleaning the lovingly-curated items from all over the African continent that are dotted around the house on shelves and displayed on walls; ostrich eggs, Zulu beer gourds, vintage watercolours, to name but a few. Anyone walking into our house will not fail to notice the reminders of the African continent that sit alongside its 19th century Belgian architecture. When I look at our house however, I sometimes ask myself: is our home a reflection of an ‘African style’? Does such a thing exist? I do not profess to have either invented it, or be an ‘expert’ in defining it. The African continent is a marvellous source of creative inspiration for my particular interior style. In my case, it reflects some of who I am but you do not need to have travelled to or be from Africa to use African elements in your interior space.
A question I am often asked is: how to integrate African style into a modern interior? If you feel overwhelmed about where to begin here are a few points to remember.