Studio Badge in Ghana creates chic lifestyle accessories for the modern home. Bearing a minimalist aesthetic underpinned by the founder’s architectural background, each product is handcrafted in limited edition quantities meaning a unique product.
Bold graphic black and white prints with a distinctive Afro-Scandi aesthetic characterise the designs of Pino Nord, a design lifestyle company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Pino Nord draws on the minimalism of Scandinavian design, and fuses this with the vibrancy, boldness and artistic expression of daily life in Nairobi, and from this fusion comes a style that Pino Nord calls Tropical Minimalism.
Bolgatanga in Ghana’s Upper East Region is synonymous with basket weaving, and the distinctive round-bellied Bolga Market basket with its sturdy handles. Building on the region’s basket weaving heritage local business The Baba Tree Basket Company is producing some stunning gravity-defying basket designs, woven from locally sourced natural materials and dyed in vibrant colours.
Water Hyacinth is a plant that takes root in waterways the world over, causing destruction to aquatic and plant eco-systems. For communities that rely on their waterways for food, livelihoods, and transportation water hyacinth blocks access to the water essential to their survival. In Nigeria, a local social enterprise, MitiMeth, is harvesting water hyacinth and turning it into functional handcrafted products, and empowering members of the local community.
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.
Our choice of art says a lot about who we are, reflecting our tastes and experiences amongst other indicators. And despite digital platforms enabling us to discover original talent the sheer amount of information being put out can sometimes have the opposite effect of making it difficult to find, purchase or remember where we saw artwork that represents who we are in one place. Enter Ayok’a, a curated platform that brings together the work of talented black artists making it easy for you to find stylish, original and representative artwork to adorn your walls or carry about your person in the form of lifestyle accessories. To find out more about this exciting platform I caught up with founder Alice Gbelia. [Main image credit: Black by Adekunle Adeleke]
Please introduce yourself, and tell us a bit about your platform, Ayok’a and the meaning behind the name?
I am Alice Gbelia, an Ivorian who grew up in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Lille (France). I’ve also lived in Paris, London and currently reside in Zurich. My friends know me as a “cultural activist”: any projects I’ve been involved in were about promoting art and culture from the African diaspora. While living in London, I used to have a blog dedicated to Afro-Caribbean events in the city. I also once organized a pop-up shop featuring black designers. Our community is full of talent, I’ve made it a mission to help shine a light on this talent.
The launch of luxury tea brand YSWARA’s Johannesburg tearoom has been joined by the opening of one in Accra, Ghana. The YSWARA tearoom and boutique is part of a collaborative space shared with local retailer Luxury Living and Akrafo, YSWARA’S sister brand of gourmet condiment’s, bringing gourmet and interior decor experience to the city’s stylish residents.
Olivia Knox is an interior accessories company born out of seeing the beauty in Ankole horn, which has a distinctive light ivory colour. The company was founded by Olivia Byanyima who hails from Uganda and lives in New York, and Shanley Knox from California, and is driven by the story of Olivia’s childhood in Uganda, where she spent a lot of time on her father’s ranch watching his herd of Ankole cattle roam the surrounding plains alongside buffalo, zebra, leopard, and lion.
Ancient Adinkra symbols and the wisdom of Ghanaian proverbs serve as the decorative backdrop to a collection of handmade and handprinted interior textiles and decor accessories by AMWA Designs, a UK-based studio that was founded in 2014 by textile designer Chrissa Amuah, a graduate of Chelsea College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London.