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Ifeanyi Oganwu Furniture Design For Toghal African Inspired Textiles

  Dotted around the lounge at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair was a collection of colourful, contemporary seating by product designer Ifeanyi Oganwu, African inspired textiles design brand Toghal and jewellery designer Artist Phoebe Boswell. Ifeanyi was approached by Dayo Forster, Toghal’s founder to create a seating structure on which to present their cylindrical bolster cushions.  

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Mimi Plange For Roche Bobois Classic West African Design Inspiration

  Fashion designer Mimi Plange has collaborated with high-end French furniture design company Roche Bobois on a limited edition furniture collection upholstered in Mimi Plange textile designs that references her West African design cultural and heritage. The Roche Bobois collection is centred around one of the furniture house’s iconic furniture pieces, the modular Mah Jong Sofa that was designed in 1971 by German artist Hans Hopfer, and has since been dressed by some of the biggest names in fashion from the late Sonia Rykiel to Jean-Paul Gaultier. The collaboration features several Mimi Plange textile designs each incorporating a different theme from […]

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YSWARA Unveils A Tranquil Tearoom To Savour Precious African Teas

  There is nothing I love more than a good cup of tea, the stronger the better. Anytime is teatime as far as I am concerned, so you can only imagine what I think about those who take their tea as seriously as I do. Like YSWARA for instance, the luxury tea brand championing made in Africa, who are reviving the ceremony of ancient African tea drinking rituals with its offering of specially blended teas and accompanying accessories. And now you can immerse yourself fully in the YSWARA brand experience with the launch of their flagship tearoom and store in […]

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African Design At London Design Biennale 2016

International design season continues, yesterday I attended the press preview of the inaugural London Design Biennale which is being held at London’s prestigious Somerset House from today the 7th-27th September. The Biennale bringing together work and conceptual ideas from 37 nations exploring the theme Utopia, which coincides with Somerset House’s UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility, which marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s text, Utopia – a work of fiction and political philosophy that More published in 1516 in Latin and primarily depicts a fictional island society and its religious, social and political customs. Representing […]

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Mvelo Desk Contemporary South African Furniture Design

Emerging South African designer Siyanda Mbele continues to challenge the perceptions of contemporary South African furniture design as he introduces his latest design, the Mvelo Desk. An exploration of modern working life the Mvelo Desk references the way people are seemingly ‘married’ to their careers, spending long periods sitting at their desks. [Main image credit: Mvelo Desk by Siyanda Mbele – Michelle Reynolds]

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100% Design South Africa Chic African Interior Design Inspiration

August heralds the start of the global design exhibition season, which runs for several months. In Johannesburg, 100% Design South Africa, billed as the go-to interior design show for all things African design will run from the 5th-9th August. Now in its third year 100% Design South Africa will channel continental African cool with its abundance of contemporary ‘Chic Afrique’ – African interior design inspiration content.

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Creative Africa Art And Design Comes To Philadelphia

Africa’s creativity is certainly capturing global attention, with seemingly every major city around the world holding or is planning to hold an exhibition dedicated to exploring and showcasing African creativity. In May, Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, saw the opening of  Creative Africa, a new major exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art that celebrates African art and design, and runs from May 14, 2016 – September 25, 2016. Creative Africa presents the work of visionary artists throughout Africa and is made up of a series of five individual exhibitions each exploring a distinct theme ranging from contemporary photography, fashion, and […]

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Reform Studio Creating Sustainable Egyptian Product And Furniture Design

Reform Studio is a sustainable Egyptian product and furniture design studio born out of a belief that design can help address challenging social issues, namely the problem of accumulating waste in Egypt. Reform Studio was founded by Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem who along with design researcher Dina Amin started out by experimenting with various solutions and products to tackle the issue, and ended up creating Plastex, an award-winning eco-material made by weaving discarded plastic bags and threads. [Main image credit: Ahwa Collection – Reform Studio]

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The Aga Concept African Inspired Cooking Utensils And Accessories

The newsletter of textile designer Eva Sonaike introduced me to a stylish range of African inspired cooking utensils by The Aga Concept, a design and lifestyle brand that is inspired by culture and everyday living in Africa. For a lot of Zimbabweans living abroad, and most likely for a lot of Africans in general, cooking traditional food is simply not the authentic experience we crave without the traditional utensils from home, usually brought back on every trip, because buying and using that wooden spoon or pestle and mortar from your local store is somehow just not the same. Our traditional […]

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South African Ceramicist Andile Dyalvane Celebrates First New York Exhibition

Andile Dyalvane sees the unveiling of his first solo exhibition at Friedman Benda Gallery in New York this week. Opening on Thursday, 23rd June, the exhibition runs for two months and will showcase over 20 unique pieces by the South African ceramicist. Andile is a leading figure whose work is helping to shape contemporary South African design. [Main image credit: Bird Vessel, 2015; Andile Dyalvane – Friedman Benda]

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Support Textile Brand Kouamo To Kickstarter Success

London-based textiles brand, Koumao recently launched a Kickstarter campaign and needs your support to help launch their third collection, which is inspired by Indonesia. The campaign, which ends on May 24th, 2016, entitled ‘Let your home accessories reflect your travels‘ draws on the stories, places, and cultures that influence French-Cameroonian founder, Julie Kouamo, and is an ethos that forms an integral part of the brand’s DNA. Kouamo’s design aesthetic is highly evocative combining traditional print techniques such as batik with modern digital processes, and layering photography, illustrations, and rich, vibrant colour. Kouamo’s previous collections include Bangou, which incorporates motifs and […]

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Picture Africa Exhibition Celebrating African Creativity

“Picture Africa” is an exciting new exhibition that celebrates African creativity, the relationship between photography, textiles, and fashion as seen through a pan-African lens. The exhibition will feature a host of leading African design and creative talent, as well as contributors from bloggers, image-makers, artisans and fashion leaders. Curated by Cathy O’Clery “Picture Africa” is a feature of two 100% Design South Africa events, first taking place at Decorex Cape Town, which runs from 29 April – 2 May 2016, before travelling to Gauteng, where it will be on show at 100% Design South Africa from 5 – 10 August 2016.

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KuDu Spring Summer Contemporary African Interior Design Style Edit

  Spring has begun bringing with it longer and warmer days, and the swapping of heavy accessories for lighter ones. Interiors and lifestyle retailer KuDu, whom we profiled on Atelier Fifty-Five shortly after their launch, introduces their new Spring/Summer 2016 collection of African interior design style homeware and lifestyle pieces sourced from the studios of talented designers and artisans from Africa. Perfect for the season ahead, Atelier Fifty-Five adores the refreshingly, modern colour palette.

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Calling All Emerging Accessory Designers Enter The ABURY Design Experience

If you are passionate about designing and producing accessories that not only look good but have a positive impact, then it is not too late to enter the Abury Design Experience (ADEx) competition to be in with a chance to create a capsule accessories collection for the sustainable luxury accessory brand, Abury. Abury’s ethos is to combine traditional, old-world crafts with avant-garde design to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange and helps preserves world crafts. And, now in its second year, ADEx is an international design competition- held in partnership with Harper’s Bazaar Germany -that builds on […]

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Design Week Addis Ababa Showcasing Ethiopian Contemporary Design

Design Week Addis Ababa (DWAA) is the latest addition to Africa’s wider creative calendar. The annual event launches this weekend – 12-13 December –  at the Mosaic Hotel near Bole Medhanealem, Addis Ababa. DWAA is the initiative of creative director Metasebia Yoseph who seeks to shine the spotlight on Ethiopia’s contemporary creative talent, from technology, fashion and textiles, food and gastronomy, architecture, industrial design, interiors, graphic design, and art.

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Contemporary African Design And Craft At Open Design Festival Cape Town

 Join myself, Tapiwa Matsinde and South African author, Elbe Coetsee on Tuesday 18th August 2015 as we discuss contemporary African design and craft, and our recent publications,Contemporary Design Africa (Thames & Hudson) and Craft Art in South Africa (Jonathan Ball) respectively. Elbé will be there in person to answer questions, and I will be joining in over Skype from London. The event is part of The Open Design Book Boutique at the Open Design Cape Town Festival.

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Hand Woven Lighting Inspired By Traditional Ethiopian Basket Weaving

The Abyssinia Lamp is a collection of colourful handwoven lighting inspired by the techniques and visual languages of traditional Ethiopian basket weaving. The collection was designed and produced by PET Lamp in a joint venture with local craft workshop and retailer, Salem’s Ethiopia. Produced by highly skilled artisans in Addis Abba the main feature of the lighting collection are the striking woven lampshades, which draw on a diverse range of local cultural patterns, infused with bold colour palettes rendered in heavy, durable materials.

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Tinja Reinterpreting Classical Tunisian Crafts To Create A Handcrafted Modern Aesthetic

Handcrafted modern is the philosophy of Tinja, an interior design concept developed by a family passionate about their Tunisian crafts heritage. Tinja was founded by Salah Sfar, who wanted to find a way to reinterpret and preserve Tunisia’s handicraft traditions and those of other cultures that have had an impact, by creating a new contemporary vision developing products that would reflect the techniques, and time and care that had gone into making them. [Main image credit: Fokhar collection, Large Yellow Tray – Tinja]

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SafariFusion Modern African Interior Decor Accessories

Loving Safari Fusion’s beautifully styled 2015-16 Lookbook of modern African interior decor accessories and African baskets collection entitled, Woven & Stitched. The colourful, unique and functional collection presents the best in contemporary basketry made in Africa. Woven & Stitched is inspired by African basket weavers, and has brought together a range of grass and fibre baskets that showcase the way classical techniques and ancient traditions have been rejuvenated through the use of modern colour palettes and forms.

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Contemporary Design Africa Book Launch And Designer Showcase Event

Contemporary Design Africa will be launched at a special event at The Jungle in Johannesburg, South starting this Thursday. If you happen to be in Johannesburg between the 9th -25th July, pop along to the concept store, where in addition to celebrating the book, The Jungle will also be showcasing and selling the work of select designers featured within the book’s pages. A great opportunity to see some of the designs first hand. [Image featured, Chair by Nulangee Design courtesy David Crookes for Design Network Africa]  

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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
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  • 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]

Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive