AAKS x UNHCR Weaving For Change

Luxury artisanal accessory brand AAKS has launched a stunning home decor collection inspired by the theme Weaving for Change. The collection comprises five distinctive handcrafted lamps and light pendants, each created in partnership with women artisans from the Tuareg community in Northern Mali who are living as refugees in Burkina Faso. In working with this Tuareg community AAKS are helping to celebrate and preserve the community’s cultural identity and their time-honoured basket weaving traditions, a philosophy that has defined AAKS’s work with local communities in Ghana.

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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.

[Main image credit: Tigmi Bags, Large Moroccan Market Basket Global Goods Partners]


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Zenza Mesmerising Egyptian Lamps And North African Decor

A trip to Egypt looking for interesting accessories for a new home accessories business called Zenza led to, not only a bag full of samples, but also a blossoming romance. Fast forward twenty years and Karin, who founded the company, together with her partner Hussein have grown the business into an inspiring boutique of beautifully crafted interior and personal products. From enticing jewel brights to shimmering metals Zenza’s collections include woven home textiles, exquisitely carved furniture, tableware, vases; and embellished mirrors, jewellery boxes, purses, and slippers inspired by craft cultures including north African decor.
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Lupane Women’s Centre Zimbabwe Modern African Baskets

Looking like they have been swirled with delicate watercolours, this gorgeous range of traditionally handcrafted modern African baskets is the result of a partnership between the Lupane Women’s Centre in Zimbabwe and the Kingston University Design School in the UK, bringing a contemporary edge to traditional African design. The initiative entitled, Kingston Project Africa was created to facilitate the exchange and support of knowledge between both regions, and led by Professor Catherine McDermott utilises the expertise of academics, industry practitioners and curators across various projects and collaborations.
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Madwa Hand Woven Artisan African Home Decor Accessories

Inspired by craft and tradition, Madwa is an ethical craft project that works with small groups of master weavers in Madagascar and Swaziland to produce contemporary ranges of woven artisan African home decor accessories and textiles.
Based in South Africa, Madwa harnesses the unique weaving skills of the different cultural groups and regions it works with, and is about the preservation of a unique craft heritage, assisting the weavers with product development and gaining access to international markets.
[Image credits: Madwa]
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Traditional African Art Vintage Yoruba Beaded Chairs

Shabby Chic® refers to objects that have made it through the years, passed through from generation to generation and despite looking a little worn round the edges, exude a familiar comforting feeling cloaked with an air of faded grandeur and elegance but are still well-loved, appreciated for where they have come from and the stories they tell, this is often seen with family heirlooms as well as newer items that have purposely been distressed to achieve the look and feel. Shabby Chic® originated in the 1980s when British designer Rachel Ashwell, used the words to describe her brand of style and interior decoration, setting up a business with the same name. Rachel went on to trademark the two words for sole use, so although the words have slipped into interior design speak when describing a particular style, they officially can not be used to describe any another product or style than that of the official  Shabby Chic® range. The phrase did come to mind though when I laid eyes on some colourful and elaborately beaded chairs that I discovered originated from Yoruba artisans in Nigeria. From the floral and symbolic imagery to the traditional African art skill required to produce each creation and how they can bring character to contemporary interiors, when I saw the chairs I was reminded of the Suzani embroidered textiles of Central Asia, an ancient art form that has witnessed a revival, growing in popularity in recent years.
[Image source: Pair of Yoruba Beaded Chairs via If the Lampshade Fits]
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Wola Nani South African Artisans And FitFlop Collaborate

PFitFlop - Manyano Snadal

Not being sporty, I do however like to walk whenever possible and the warmer weather brings with it more chances to get out and about and hopefully get fit in the process. FitFlop with its unique Microwobbleboard™ midsole technology offers busy women a way to squeeze a bit of exercise into their day whilst going about their daily lives; and have proved very popular. In conjunction with NET-A-PORTER and the South African artisans of Wola Nani cooperative, launching today is a limited edition FitFlop called the Manyano Sandal.
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Tunisian Ceramics Stylish Handcrafted African Homeware

Tunisian coffee cups

[Image credit: Greater Good]
Having tried my hand at pottery many years ago as part of my fine arts module and being absolutely rubbish at it – they always exploded in the kiln!!! – I have a deep admiration for artisans who can produce the most exquisite and beautifully decorated pieces. Not too long ago I came across some stylish African decor in the form of these really pretty Tunisian coffee cups on the Greater Good Network, and loved the intricate patterns and vibrant colours.
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Exquisitely Handmade African Christmas Decorations

Tintsaba Christmas Ornaments
[Image credits: Tintsaba]
Getting ready to trim the tree? Christmas is a time for giving, receiving and sharing so why not let your tree embody that sentiment with meaningful ornaments. Bypass the convenience of picking up mass-produced baubles from your highstreet store, instead find out what local artists, designers or community organisations have to offer, and it goes without saying your local church, school and community fairs are sources for uncovering some unique gems. With so much to chose from I have zoomed the spotlight on organisations like  Tintsaba whose wonderfully simple yet stylish African Christmas decorations brought a smile to my face.
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