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Kenyan Artist Evans Mbugua For Chaumet Tresors D’afrique Jewellery Collection

Trésors d’Afrique translates as Treasures from Africa, and is an ode to past and present, culture and modernity presented in the form of luxury jewellery pieces by the prestigious French jeweller and watchmaker Chaumet in collaboration with Kenyan artist, Evans Mbugua who is based in Paris. Trésors d’Afrique is third and final destination in the Mondes du Chaumet collection, a globe-trotting journey through jewels that has taken in the splendours of Russia, and Japan. Chaumet is inspired by the coming together of different cultures that celebrate and honour majestic femininity to create new ideas, imagined by their master jewellers who continually […]

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4 Ways To Incorporate African Style Into Modern Interiors

  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 […]

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Graham and Green Chic African Print and Velvet Cocktail Chairs

  Currently crushing on these gorgeous Cocktail chairs from UK retailer Graham and Green. The chairs are upholstered in the front with sumptuous jewel-toned velvets in yellow and teal, and each colourway paired with a complementary intricately patterned African print wax textile to the back. The result is classic design with modern appeal. Cocktail chairs are a 1950s mid-century design classic, sought after for their simple yet chic silhouettes. The chairs make great accent pieces in living spaces, and these will be ideal for those looking to incorporate some Afro-chic interior inspiration. [Image credit: Alpana Velvet Chair – Graham and Green ]

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Planet Botanicals Natural African Inspired Skin Care Brand

As the seasons change from cold to warm, colds and flu become all too common and unfortunately for me I have been bedridden, trying to shake of a particularly nasty cold, and generally feeling sorry for myself! As one to shun medication for as long as I possibly can, I tend to prefer natural goodness and remedies in essential oils and soothing herbal teas to get me well, as well as aiding overall day-to-day wellbeing, so it always good to get to know new products. I recently came across Planet Botanicals, a US-based natural African inspired skin care brand whose luxurious products, comprising […]

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Hand Decorated Cabinets Inspired By African Design Elements

I stumbled upon these amazingly decorated, hand-painted cabinets by Argentinean artist, Lucas Risé. Visually stimulating, the cabinets are a riot of colour, pattern and texture, with several of the designs drawing inspiration from elements of African design and culture; from basketry to motifs. ‘Somewhere in Africa’, brings together elements of the different countries and regions visited during Lucas’ travels across Africa; whilst ‘African Whimsical’ pays homage to the traditional neck ornaments worn by women in the Continent’s mid-western regions. The ‘Carrousel’ cabinet, in particular reminds me of the Yoruba beaded chairs I have featured previously. The design sees the application of 21,000 metal studs […]

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Updating A Design Classic With African Decorating Style

I have seen this chair pop up on many a Pinterest board channelling ‘African Decorating Style’, and whilst I cannot say whether the upholstery of the chair was inspired by Africa, the use of cowhide is obviously what has made it a favourite selection for many gathering ‘African’ interior design inspiration.

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African Footballers 2010 World Cup South Africa Art Posters

Granted the World Cup 2010 held in South Africa has long since come and gone, but while searching online for African patterns for a project I am working on I followed a link to some amazing digital 2010 World Cup South Africa art posters, showcased on the website Specky Boy, that were created to celebrate the event and pay homage to elements of African cultures and traditions. Although I am not a footie fan, I did catch some of the action on the pitch, especially when it came to charting the progress of African teams. The 2010 World Cup South Africa art […]

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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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Adriana Hoyos Contemporary African Inspired Furniture Collection

The majestic Serengeti Plains were the basis for a contemporary African inspired furniture range by US-based designer Adriana Hoyos. Using rich hardwood grains available in a selection of finishes, the aptly titled Africa Collection features the distinctive markings of the giraffe moulded in a striking cutout pattern that is used in chair backrests, headboards, sideboards and table bases. The patterns are accentuated with upholstery materials like leather in neutral or contrasting shades.

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India Hicks Indigo Dyed Linens For African Decor Inspiration

Just spotted these indigo dyed napkins currently retailing on the India Hick’s website. Whilst I cannot say if they were actually inspired by African indigo’s (they could just as easily be Japanese Shibori), I am instantly reminded of the centuries old dyeing tradition that can be attributed to countries like Mali and Nigeria. Made with linen, the napkins come as a set of four each; with its own individual pattern. The napkins are a great accessory for those looking to add some African decor inspiration to their table settings. [Image credit: Indigo Napkin Set – India Hicks]  

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Marcus Samuelsson Ambessa Includes African Inspired Teas

Amharic for Lion, Ambessa is a new range of specialty teas created by top chef Marcus Samuelsson. Marcus embarked on creating the tea blends whilst writing his recently published memoirs; Yes, Chef. For the people of Ethiopia Ambessa represents pride, strength and independence; and for Marcus’ Ambessa also represents his travels, experiences and the everyday journeys that are a part of life. The range also includes a selection of African inspired teas. [Image credit: Ambessa Teas – Marcus Samuelsson]

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Colonial House African Furniture Design Inspired By Traditional Sculpture

Colonial House Design is an interior and furniture design company based in Cape Town, South Africa; and reflecting on its name and location I was expecting a more traditional Cape Dutch inspired design aesthetic, but instead found contemporary African furniture design that draw on traditional African sculpture and the precision geometry of oriental forms. Colonial House Design was founded by Philip and Nicky Tyers; both of whom cite an eclectic range of design influences ranging from traditional African furniture design and  sculpture to those drawn from travels across Asia and South America. [Image credits: Boma Chair – Colonial House Design]

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Gayle Garner Roski Zulu Basket African Inspired Art Series

American artist Gayle Garner Roski creates vibrant watercolours based on subjects drawn from her many travels and surroundings. Injected with an inherent sense of realism Gayle’s work is incredibly life-like, capturing minute details in her often emotive work. In her Zulu Basket African inspired art series, Gayle captures the beauty and skill of basket weaving, and the intricate details of the weave and patterns. The vivid watercolours give the baskets a luminous quality. I keep imagining the paintings rendered in glass and set into a door, window or glass wall. Gayle shows her work at Tirage, a Fine Art Gallery in Pasadena, California.

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Royal Design Studio Chic Moroccan Inspired Wall Stencils

Wallpaper is not really my thing; I tend to find it quite fussy and would rather have smooth walls in a favourite colour or given a natural treatment. Its just that I always feel that wallpaper can date a room quite quickly, for me wallpaper always seems to conjure up hideous 70’s style decorating disasters; also growing up in Zimbabwe wallpaper was never a big thing as it is here in the UK. Having said that modern interpretations have led to some beautiful designs that provide temptation were I to have the walls to decorate. If however you are seeking […]

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Basa Body Kenyan Coconut Oil Inspired Skin Care Beauty

I think its fair to say that most of the beauty and skin care products I have featured lean in favour of using Shea butter as a main ingredient, with others like coconut oil coming in as secondary, well not so in the case of Basa Body whose natural Kenyan Coconut Oil inspired skin care product range is made from Virgin coconut oil that is produced by hand in Mombasa, Kenya. Easily absorbed into the skin Coconut Oil is known for its healing properties and contains natural antioxidants that are anti-fungal and antibacterial, and is said to be good for smoothing the skin […]

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Made.com Morocco Table Designer African Inspired Furniture

I couldn’t help but be transported to alfresco dining on a sun-drenched patio when I saw some simple yet striking coffee tables on Made.com a UK-based furniture and interiors e-tailer that works with select designers to create original furniture designs that are sold directly to customers at affordable prices by cutting out the middle man. Amongst the products the Morocco Coffee Table, an African inspired furniture design sporting a bold diamond cut-out pattern that runs a ring close to the table edge. The Morocco Coffee Table sits on hexagonal legs and was inspired by traditional Moroccan tray tables.

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Calabarte Intricate Hand Carved African Gourd Art Lamps

Oh…my…goodness…how incredibly beautiful are these hand carved African guord art lamps and light fittings from Calabarte, a business based in Lodz, Poland that was founded by Przemek, a Polish artist designer. It took a while for the fact that they were made from African gourds to sink in, because I saw the lit versions first; and illuminated they look like glass reminding me of the Art Deco glasswork style. [Image credit: Standing Gourd Lamp XI – Calabarte]

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L.GR. Artisan Italian Sunglasses Inspired By Modern African Cities

Denoting the name of founder Luca Gnecchi Ruscone, the initials L G R represent a range of handcrafted artisan Italian sunglasses inspired by modern African cities. Luca was born in Italy but his family has strong ties to East Africa and it was between these two parts of the world that Luca spent his childhood. His father lives in Kenya, his mother was born in Eritrea which is where his grandfather opened an optical store in the 1930s, selling frames imported from Italy. It was a chance discovery of one of these classically styled frames that inspired Luca to set up his own […]

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Moroso The Rift Collection Furniture Inspired By Africa

Stretching from the Middle East through Eastern African and ending in Mozambique, the Great Rift Valley is considered one of the wonders of the world. Teeming with amazing biodiversity the Great Rift Valley splits into two once it reaches Eastern Africa, forming the Eastern and the Western Rift Valleys. Commonly associated with Kenya and Tanzania, the Western Rift Valley is home to high mountain ranges and some of the deepest lakes in the world, offering visitors spectacular views. The Great Rift Valley is the result of Tectonic plates; unimaginably massive irregular shaped slabs of rock that bump and separate as […]

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Tamara Magel East African Textiles Kanga Cushions

Cushions galore! I have featured quite a few, but they are such a quick and easy way to instantly transform an interior and whilst on the US edition of Elle Decor I came across some some East African textiles pillows by New York-based interior designer Tamara Magel, that use Kanga fabric, in a range of assorted graphic patterns. [Image credits: patterned Pillows – Tamara Magel]

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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]

Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive