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Take A Trip To Bolé Road Modern African Textiles

Over the years of writing my blog I have been privileged to have been given a glimpse into some amazing design brands at the pre-start-up stage; when the brands in question were just concepts taking their first steps into the rewards and challenges of the design journey. And, then seeing them now and just how far they have come is testament to the creativity, passion and dedication in seeing their vision through from dream to reality. That is why I am so pleased to finally be able to introduce you to Bolé Road Textiles, an exciting collection of  modern African […]

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Uplifting African Home Accessories And Furnishings

The New Year brings with it good intentions to think, do and be better mentally, physically and spiritually in work and play. Get of to a good start by surrounding yourself with inspirational quotes and ancient words of wisdom to help you along your way courtesy of Bespoke Binny, a London-based creator and retailer of uplifting African home accessories and furnishings. [Image credit: Wax print and African Proverb Cushion Collections – Bespoke Binny]

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Defining Luxury African Fashion Buki Akib Design Indaba Interview

Buki Akib’s luxurious style, influenced by West African textile traditions captures the imagination. The textiles and fashion accessories designer is defining Luxury African fashion. I recently caught up with the highly experimental designer to glean further insight into her work and inspirations. The full feature can be read on Design Indaba. [Main image credit: Buki Akib Menswear]

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Eva Sonaike Eko Eclipse African Inspired Home Decor

[Image credit: Eko Eclipse Collection – Eva Sonaike] London-based textile and lifestyle brand Eva Sonaike launches Eko Eclipse, their latest African inspired home decor collection of textiles and soft furnishings that are based on vibrant African prints. The brand’s creative director, Eva Sonaike herself drew inspiration from the West African metropolis that is Lagos, which was formerly known as Eko and was imbued with the folklore of the symbiotic relationship between the earth, the moon and the traditional Gods of the universe, who brought rain, wind and thunder to the planet.

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Yemi Awosile Journey Into An African Inspired Textiles Soundscape

Also on display at Africa Utopia was a new body of work by London-based textile designer Yemi Awosile. Inspired by her Nigerian heritage Yemi set out to explore the relationships between sound, textiles and space. Entitled Lagos, the African inspired textiles soundscape installation saw Yemi design a collection of printed textiles that give a physical form to sound. Incorporating audio components, the textiles make use of a combination of sound conductive and non-conductive materials to present a sound piece by Nigerian sound and video artist Emeka Ogboh Yemi called ‘UnderBridge’. Available to listen on Yemi’s website, the recording was taken from Lagosoundscape; a […]

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Modern Textiles The Optic Collection by Kouamo For Made

Inspired by the city she now calls home, textile designer Julie Kouamo’s latest collection; entitled Optic pays homage to London’s striking architecture viewed from behind the lens. The exclusive collection of scatter cushions produced in collaboration with Made.com features photographic, digitally printed images highlighting the often-unseen corners of the city. Optic follows on from her first photographic collection, ‘Brooklyn Bridge’.

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Toghal African Textiles Reimagined For Home Decor Accessories

Yesterday I visited Clerkenwell Design Week, and spent a few leisurely hours absorbed in the world of cutting-edge contemporary design and decor. There I met Toghal, a new textile brand inspired by African textiles drawing on the continent’s rich textile heritage. Toghal was started in December 2013 by friends Dayo and Marta. Dayo, who is originally from the Gambia, and Marta, from the Czech Republic, first met whilst both living in Kenya and now both reside in the UK, bringing with them a love for African textile’s and the continent’s traditional design and craft cultures. [Image credit: Table Napkins – Toghal]

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South African Textiles Colourful Cushions Sustainable Design

Bold, colourful geometric patterns are hand embroidered in wool onto recycled maize meal sacks to form a range of modern South African textiles in the form of cushions by Africa!Ignite. The technique was created by Mma Betina Khumalo, who started embroidering the maize meal sacks as a way of passing time. A highly skilled craftswoman, MmaKhumalo learnt craftwork techniques like beading and embroidery from her mother, and now works closely with her own daughter passing the techniques on. [Image credit: Africa!Ignite, Langezela Cushions – Design Indaba]

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Dar Leone Pop-Up African Inspired Textiles And Home Decor

Yesterday evening I headed to Clerkenwell where stylish interiors brand, Dar Leone was hosting an intimate drinks reception to mark the opening of their week long pop-up shop. I have previously featured Dar Leone here. Bringing their signature global traveller style and African inspired textiles to the area, the pop-up opened its doors on Monday 31st March and will run until Sunday 6th April. Plenty of time to pop along to meet Isatu, Dar Leone’s founder and browse the colourful offerings. [Image credits: Dar Leone Pop Up Shop, Clerkenwell – Atelier Fifty-Five]

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African Inspired Textiles At Julie Kouamo London Pop Up 

[Image credits: Julie Kouamo Pop Up – taken by Tapiwa] Textile and interior accessories designer Julie Kouamo launched her first ever pop up store last night in London’s Camden, with a private view. Located at the Camden Collective, the pop up is open to the public from today 2nd October until Sunday 6th October. On display are Julie’s signature African inspired textiles collections across a range of soft furnishings, lampshades, wallpaper, wrapping paper, notebooks and furniture, with products available to purchase or place orders. Throughout the duration of the pop up Julie is on hand to discuss her collections and any […]

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The Sankofa Center African Print Textiles Inspiration

The Sankofa Center is a not-for-profit arts-based organisation in Ghana that uses traditional African dance and music to promote an understanding of HIV/AIDS within the communities in which it works with. To help support the Center’s programmes and services, a boutique was established that utilises the skills of a cooperative that was specifically set up by the Center to produce a range of products including; clothing, personal and household accessories made with African print textiles; the proceeds of which are invested back into the organisation. It was through one of their current stockists, VivaTerra, that I came across the Sankofa Center’s range […]

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AphroChic African Design Inspired Juju Wallpaper Collection

US-based textile company, AphroChic’s new African design inspired wallpaper collection entitled ‘Juju’. Named for the feathered ceremonial headdress traditionally worn by the royal dancers of Cameroon’s Bamileke Tribe, Juju features a striking organic starburst pattern, reminiscent of the shape of the headdress, which is known as the Juju hat, hence the title of the collection.  

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African Home Decor Brightly Coloured Kente Strip Furnishings

A couple of weeks ago the view from the window was one of brilliant white following the snow that fell across much of the UK. A pretty picture perfect landscape at first, soon started to get a bit monotonous and I found myself subconsciously drawn to colour, pattern and texture in the form of cushions covers from Our Talking Hands. From brightly coloured Kente strips, to vibrant, clashing batik and wax cloth patterns of the vibrant African home decor it took me from one extreme to another, providing a colourful pick-me-up. [Image credits: Cushion Covers – Our Talking Hands]

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Serena & Lily Traditional African Textiles Inspiration

Having spotted some distinctive traditional African textiles inspired fabrics featuring bold graphic patterns, on many a pinterest board, I was wondering where exactly they came from, so you can imagine my delight when I stumbled across them on Serena & Lily, a US interiors decor company. I adore the prints, they are so chic in some gorgeous colourways that are perfect for interior styling. As I thought when I first saw them, the fabrics are inspired by traditional African textiles, and Serena & Lily have reworked the patterns to give a contemporary update. [Image credits: clockwise from top left, Kuba Pillow Cover in […]

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Tsakani Silk Luxury South African Textiles And Linens

Silk is pure natural protein, gentle on the skin, naturally biodegradable; and because insects do not like to eat silk, including house dust mites; this makes it an ideal fabric for those, who like me, suffer from allergies and respiratory conditions like asthma. Sericulture, which is the growing of silk, needs to take place in a chemical free and natural environment, and is a practice supported by pioneering South African textiles silk product developing company, Tsakani. [Image credits: Bedding and Cushions – Tsakani Silk]

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African Print And Afro Chic Interior Design Inspiration

An explosion of clashing colour and pattern characterises an idyllic holiday home in Senegal that I came across on the blog, Africa Moto. Located in the popular resort town of Saly, simple outdoor living is the order of the day conveyed in a mix of local, regional and Parisian influences that offer up Afro Chic interior design inspiration. A striking feature of the house is how it is decorated with African print. [Image credits: Senegalese Holiday home – Elle Decoration France/M P Morel]

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Upcycled African Print Furniture Design Inspired By Nigerian Parables

Dismantling discarded pieces of furniture and reassembling to create entirely new designs has resulted in a unique and innovative range of one-off and made to order African print furniture design pieces, created by Yinka Ilori, a London-based furniture designer. Yinka specialises in sustainable design by upcycling discarded and found furniture pieces, and founded his eponymous label in April 2011; fuelled by an interest in finding creative solutions to challenge the unnecessary waste in modern consumer societies in the West, and through the products he recreates works towards helping to affect positive change. [Image credits: Odd One Out chair at D’apostophe – Yinka Ilori]

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African Interior Accessories Moroccan Kilim Textiles

Doing some research for a client I keeping spotting beautifully textured cushions made with Moroccan Kilim fabrics. Kilim fabrics are traditionally hand-woven to create carpets and rugs and have now been used to produce smaller items such as cushions and bags.  [Image credit: Kelim Cushions – Plümo]

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Julie Kouamo Evocative African Inspired Textile Prints

Julie Kouamo is a French/Cameroonian print textile designer whose bold, evocative fabric and wallpaper designs feature multi-layered patterns, textures and images in a collage like effect. Establishing her eponymous label, Juli launched her debut collection in 2008 creating a stylish, contemporary collection of colourful African inspired textiles with a multitude uses, from; sofa coverings, curtains, cushions, hanging panels more. The fabric designs are complemented by a range of wallpaper. Produced in the UK where Julie is based, all fabrics are hand printed and some hand dyed.

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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