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Interview With South African Furniture and Interior Designer Siyanda Mbele

  Siyanda Mbele is a rising star in the contemporary South African furniture and product design industry. His streamlined and stylish designs regularly reference his Zulu heritage. We caught up with the designer to find out a bit more about his inspirations and the importance of culture to design:   1. What led you to furniture design, how long have you been working in the industry, and what do you enjoy most about your job? I have always been interested in created objects. At first, I was obsessed with drawing/ designing cars. Gradually I started loving furniture specifically tables, this […]

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Global Goods Partners On Design, Sustainability And Making A Difference

Global Goods Partners is a inspirational non-profit social enterprise that was set up by women to help women. Launched in 2005 by Catherine Lieber Shimony and Joan Shifrin, and headquartered in New York, Global Goods Partners works to provide women in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities with the means to earn a sustainable income by providing a platform to promote and sell collaborative collections of their handmade products. The products are sold through the organisation’s website. Atelier Fifty-Five caught up with co-founder Joan Shifrin to find out more about sustainable design and the life-changing work Global Goods Partners is doing. […]

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Product Designer Kossi Aguessy Interview For Design Indaba

Kossi Aguessy is a multi-faceted creative who has collaborated with some of the world’s most iconic brands, including Coca Cola and Stella McCartney. I had the pleasure of interviewing Kossi for the profile, Crossing Continents and Disciplines, which can be read on Design Indaba. [Main image credit: I-Doll Scultpure, The Earth- Kossi Aguessy]

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Beautifully Engineered Craft Ifeanyi Oganwu Design Indaba Interview

Ifeanyi Oganwu is a young talented architect and designer whom I had the honour of profiling for a Design Indaba interview available on the online platform. Ifeanyi who works in London is the founder of the experimental design studio Expand Design. His furniture designs are attracting attention for their fluid, organic forms. Design Indaba is the South African based platform that drives a better world through creativity with its online platform and annual festival. To find out more about Ifeayni and his work please visit Design Indaba to read the full profile. [Image credit: Blue Splice – Expand Design]

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Interview With Souadou Barry of Fulani HB Luxury Handbags

Last year in March, I introduced Fulani HB luxury handbags and accessory line based in the US which utilises beautifully woven traditional Senegalese fabrics. I recently caught with the designer, Souadou Barry to chat about her latest Autumn/Winter collection, gaining an insight into her inspirations, processes, and the woman she designs for.

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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]

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