The Best Of African Design At London Design Festival

September has been a good month for design lovers, and proved a great month for viewing some of the best contemporary African design as part of the London Design Festival. The earlier part of the month saw London-based textile designer Julie Kouamo exhibit her latest collection of lampshades at Bangou at one of Europe’s biggest trade events, Maison et Objet in Paris. The lampshades are the latest editions to the Bangou collection of African inspired textiles, which was debuted in January 2013.
Meanwhile the prestigious London Design Festival (LDF), whose core events occurred between the 14th-22nd, brought with it London’s major trade shows shows and exhibitions, including 100% DesignTent LondonDesign Junction; and saw galleries and retailers like Anthropologie, Mint and Habitat putting on specially curated exhibitions; and studios opening their doors to the public. Wednesday saw me at 100% Design where I got to chat with the lovely Eva Sonaike, whose textile products channeling a chic modern African design aesthetic brought a burst of bright colour to the proceedings conveyed in the brand’s signature African inspired prints across soft furnishings and fabrics.
[Image credit: Bangou Collection Lampshades – Julie Kouamo]
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Digital by Design Interactive Sessions At The V&A

It has proved to be an exceptionally busy week, and I have been spending quite a bit of time either moderating, or thinking about issues surround creativity for Visible by Design’s Digital by Design sessions running simultaneously at the V&A’s Sackler Centre, the hub for the London Design Festival, and online. We have had attendees logging on from Kenya and Hungary and the sessions are open to anyone whether you are a creative or not, Wednesday session was joined by a medical student who brought her insight into how she uses creativity to the discussion.
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V&A Museum Visible by Design Inspirational Women Designers

The sports have finished and now London turns its attention to celebrating design when the annual London Design Festival kicks of with a series of events running from 14th September-23 September 2012. This year the event is marking ten years of celebrating design, and fittingly the central hub will be based at the dynamic V&A Museum, home to the award-winning Sackler Centre, whose space will see inspirational women designers coming together to discuss the creative process through a combined series of: design workshops in the Design Lab in partnership with (Global Color Research), interactive sessions in Digital by Design and inspirational talks in the Design Salon in an inaugural programme put together by Visible by Design– a creative partner for the London Design Festival 2012.

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Art In Action The Tentmakers of Cairo African Textile Art

Today sees the start of Art in Action a four-day annual celebration of art, artists and designers that has been running in the Oxfordshire countryside since 1977. Promoting diversity in creative disciplines, regions and cultures participation is by invite only and sees about 400 artists, designer makers, teachers, performers and musicians demonstrating and selling their creations to art lovers. Grouped into sections according to discipline. In the Commonwealth Art section Chapungu Sculpture Park is showcasing the work of, and presenting demonstrations from some of Zimbabwe’s master stone sculptors. Another section is the International Tent, which showcases artists drawn from across the globe and this year representing Africa is Jump for Timbuktu, an organisation that will be demonstrating traditional Tuareg silversmithing techniques presented by Mohamed Alher and Mohamed Almaloud; and African textile art artists who belong to the group of legendary Tentmakers of Cairo; Hosam Hanafy Ahmed Mahmoud and Tarek Abdelhay Hafez Abouelenin whose grandfather started their family’s tent making tradition. Recently I have been hearing quite a bit about the Tentmakers of Cairo, whose intricately decorated wall hangings were traditionally used to decorate the interiors of majestic tent pavilions, known locally as suradeq.
[Image credits: The Tent Makers of Cairo, Wall Hangings Detail – Art in Action]
Tent making is an ancient craft traditionally passed down from father to son working in Cairo’s Street of Tentmakers, which is today one of the city’s last remaining roof-covered ancient streets. Traditionally the tents are plain on the outside, but upon entering you are greeted with floor to ceiling coverings filled with the exquisite patterns, colours and textures of painstakingly hand appliquéd cloth. Tent making is said to be a dying art, there used to be thousands of men creating the appliqué but this has gradually dwindled to little more than a hundred. Visitors to the area can purchase the wall hangings and coverings. Art in Action is an inspiring event and having taken part a couple of years ago, I came back rejuvenated.
…Another dimension to African textile art
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