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Africa.Now – Exploring Africa’s Creative Community With Design Indaba

  Having spent the last seven years bringing you some of the names, designs, and services that have shaped the emergence and development of the creative industries across Africa one cannot help but be inspired by the energy surrounding what is happening; that feeling that anything is possible. Something that can at times be hard to articulate in a post when experiencing it in person can be so much more impactful. And this is the premise of Design Indaba’s Africa.Now initiative and video series, which brings you closer to the action through on-screen interviews with those who are an active […]

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Africa By Design Inaugural Exhibition Launches In Ghana

  Exhibitions focusing on design from Africa continue to abound, with more countries outside the continent holding dedicated showcases. Whilst this is great to see, it is also important that the African continent also hold its own showcases to highlight the growing value of design to local audiences. One such initiative is Africa by Design in Ghana, which launched its inaugural self-titled exhibition presenting the work of 22 emerging and established African designers representing 6 countries from sub-Saharan Africa – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal.   [Main Image credit: Master Kente and Ewe Weaver, Bob Gandy – […]

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Jomo Tariku’s Modern African Furniture Design At Dubai Design Week

Dubai Design Week opens today and among the many events and works being showcased is The Birth Chair II, modern African furniture design by Ethiopian/American furniture designer, Jomo Tariku. The Birth Chair II is inspired by African birthing chairs which are still being used in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and are also being incorporated in mainstream design as decorative pieces. The Birth Chair II is crafted from a single bent piece with clean lines for the seat and a sliding backrest with artistic carvings in the front and back. The idea behind Jomo’s design is to allow people to use a similar design of […]

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Design Week Addis Ababa Showcasing Ethiopian Contemporary Design

Design Week Addis Ababa (DWAA) is the latest addition to Africa’s wider creative calendar. The annual event launches this weekend – 12-13 December –  at the Mosaic Hotel near Bole Medhanealem, Addis Ababa. DWAA is the initiative of creative director Metasebia Yoseph who seeks to shine the spotlight on Ethiopia’s contemporary creative talent, from technology, fashion and textiles, food and gastronomy, architecture, industrial design, interiors, graphic design, and art.

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Hand Woven Lighting Inspired By Traditional Ethiopian Basket Weaving

The Abyssinia Lamp is a collection of colourful handwoven lighting inspired by the techniques and visual languages of traditional Ethiopian basket weaving. The collection was designed and produced by PET Lamp in a joint venture with local craft workshop and retailer, Salem’s Ethiopia. Produced by highly skilled artisans in Addis Abba the main feature of the lighting collection are the striking woven lampshades, which draw on a diverse range of local cultural patterns, infused with bold colour palettes rendered in heavy, durable materials.

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Suri Tribe of Ethiopia Inspire African Home Decor Lighting

  The Surilight is a cascading chandelier that showcases modern African home decor. The Surilight is inspired by classical African craft and adornment, in particular paying homage to the decorative earlobe discs worn by the women of the Suri Tribe in Ethiopia. Choosing from four silhouette frames as a base, the Surilight is a self-assembly system based on a series of interlocking circles and other optional components that allow you to configure and customise the chandelier to suit your style. The components are available in a range of finishes that include, metallics, acrylics and coated steel. In addition to this a […]

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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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Keteme Monochrome African Home Decor Accessories

Keteme is a lifestyle brand offering modern African home decor accessories.  The collections see inspirational of one-of-a-kind designs handcrafted in Africa, namely Ethiopia. Keteme exudes soothing understated elegance, and reveres the exclusivity that comes with handmade luxury. Keteme, meaning ‘urban dweller’ in Ahmaric, draws inspiration from Africa’s rising cities, exploring the ever-evolving notion of contemporary urban living. The company is a celebration of a continent on the rise and through its thoughtfully sourced and designed collection of African home decor accessories seeks to take its audience on a journey of transforming their living spaces with beautiful products conceived and made in Africa. [Main image […]

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ZAAF Luxury African Leather Handbags, Exquisite Craftsmanship

[Image credit: Wanza Purse – ZAAF] I was recently introduced to ZAAF® a collection of beautifully crafted African leather handbags and lifestyle accessories made in Ethiopia. ZAAF was launched just over a year ago by Ethiopian-born, American raised Abai Schulze. As ZAAF’s creative director Abie draws on her multi-cultural upbringing and her Ethiopian heritage, celebrating the local culture and traditions and craftsmanship, reinterpreting them into luxuriously fresh modern designs.

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Graphic Africa Celebrating Contemporary African Design

Heralded as being the first exhibition of its kind in London, September 14th saw the opening of Graphic Africa a thought-provoking showcase and insight into the emergence of innovative diverse contemporary African design aesthetics and all round creativity currently sweeping across the Continent. Highlighting that contemporary African design is offering something different and fresh to the international design market, the exhibition has generated something of a media buzz, and the impact of the exhibition not only for visitors but the designers themselves has been good to see.  [Image credit: Dokter and Misses Kassena Server taken by Tapiwa]

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LA DiOSA Luxury Statement Jewellery for Modern Goddesses

LA DiOSA is a London-based luxury statement jewellery design company that seeks to empower women, by designing signature statement jewellery, featuring colourful chunky gemstones in celebration of modern Goddesses everywhere. LA DiOSA was founded in 2007 by Ugandan-born Natasha Faith, and Semhal Zemikael born to Ethiopian/Eritrean parents; friends who first met whilst studying Philosophy, and now create their gorgeous designs from a showroom in Hatton Garden, London’s famed jewellery quarter. A combined interest in fashion, led the duo to exploring the idea of creating and selling their own jewellery. The name’ La Diosa’, means ‘Goddess’ in Spanish and as the name […]

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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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Universal Fashion Ethiopia Hand Woven Accessories

Seeking a way to combine the three main passions in her life; the human spirit, fashion and social responsibility led medical doctor, Dr Amy Demissew, to set up Universal Fashion Ethiopia, a company which produces a range of personal and interior furnishings that are hand woven in Ethiopia. Amy sees fashion a universal theme in this world, noting that different culture have their own fashion identity uniting people, Amy who was born and raised in Ethiopia, now resides in the Netherlands; and remembers as a child designing and wearing her own creations. [Image credits: Universal Fashion Ethiopia]

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St George Gallery Contemporary African Furniture Products

A renovated a building in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia in the USA is home to the St George Gallery, a place which serves to bring the best in Ethiopian art; painting, craft, textiles, antiques, furniture, interior and personal accessories, to an American audience. St George Gallery USA is owned by Saba Alene, a renowned gallery owner in her home country Ethiopia; who opened Ethiopia’s first art gallery, St George Interior and Art Gallery in Addis Ababa in 1990.

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Muya Ethiopia Inspired By Rich Ethiopian Textiles Heritage

Muya Ethiopia was founded in 2005 by fashion design entrepreneur Sara Abera, whose primary aim was to introduce the rich Ethiopian textiles heritage to the world through a range of interior and fashion textiles that combined the traditional techniques with modern influences. [Image credits: Woven Textiles and Pottery – Muya Ethiopia]

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Sabahar Contemporary Eri And Mulberry Silk Ethiopian Textiles

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, you will find the Sabahar Silk Garden, a place celebrating and promoting the artistry and heritage of Ethiopian textiles and long standing weaving traditions. Ethiopian textiles weaving dates back to ancient times and all the products produced are woven on traditional looms using age old techniques, that have been passed down through the generations; however some of the techniques are in danger of dying out in favour of modern, often imported products. Named after the Queen of Sheba ‘Saba’ and ‘Har’ the Amharic word for silk; Sabahar works with artisans from around the country, designing and producing stylish […]

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Africa Travel Wild Frontiers The Natural Beauty Of Ethiopia

Often receiving more than its fair share of negative press, means for far too many holiday seekers Ethiopia doesn’t immediately spring to mind as an ideal Africa travel holiday destination, but this year I have read about more and more people choosing it as their Africa travel holiday destination of choice as they search for a more meaningful way to spend their vacation time. Wild Frontiers is a pioneering, award winning travel company that specialises in taking small groups of it’s discerning clientele to places that don’t tend to be part of the popular tourist trails and return offering them a unique […]

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Fashion Designer Amsale Aberra Monochrome Interior Design

If you spent most of your days working with the various shades of a single colour; in this case white and ivory, you could forgive one for assuming that it would be natural to leap at the chance of introducing a splash of colour into other areas of your life, be it dress or living space. Not a theory to be applied to Amsale Aberra, the Ethiopian designer of exquisite bridal gowns, whose New York loft is a free flowing space defined by a monochrome interior design colour palette that is predominately white; the bridal influence perhaps… [Image source: Amsale Aberra […]

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Aidya Stylish African Leather Handbags

Loving these stylish African leather handbags and clutch bags by London-based accessories label, Aiyda. Chic and elegant, the ‘Addis’ clutch is made from supple leather and is secured with a long strip of leather that winds around the side of bag, which makes for eye-catching detailing.

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Etiyé Dimma Poulsen Sculptures Inspired By Traditional African Art

Adorn your walls with these rather intriguing mixed-media traditional African art inspired sculptures from Ethiopian-born artist, Etiyé Dimma Poulsen. Distinctive forms in bright earthy colours show humanity stripped back to its most basic forms, displaying a frail-like vulnerability in the process. [Image credit: Trois Statuettes – Etiyé Dimma Poulsen]

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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