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Pino Nord’s Bold Afro Scandi Graphic Black and White Prints Made In Kenya

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.

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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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African Furniture Design At Salone del Mobile 2018

  Salone del Mobile, the prestigious Italian furniture fair opens its doors today offering visitors the very best in international furniture design concepts. Salone del Mobile is also home to SaloneSatellite an event that spotlights promising young designers under 35 by giving them a platform to connect with manufacturers, buyers and talent scouts. Noted for launching the careers of designers such as Oki Sato of Nendo, this year’s SaloneSatellite theme is Africa/Latin America: Rising Design – Design Emergente and as such is presenting a group of designers representing both regions. Among those representing African design is Jomo Tariku, founder of […]

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Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair Presents The 2017 Well Made In Africa Exhibitors

  Earlier this year, I was honoured to have been appointed the guest curator for the prestigious Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair’s Well Made in Africa showcase. 2017 introduces a new, exquisite selection of Well Made in Africa exhibitors from the continent under the curatorship of Tapiwa Matsinde, author of Contemporary Design Africa. Tapiwa presents a selection that is anchored in heritage & modernity. This year Sanlam HmC will host the work of a dynamic group of designers who have been chosen for their innovative use of Africa’s diverse craft heritages to create modern sophisticated products for contemporary living. And with […]

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Mashirbirya Patterns Inspire Saba Studio’s Furniture Made On Lamu Island

  Centuries-old Mashirbirya patterns have inspired a contemporary collection of limited edition furniture made on Kenya’s, Lamu Island. Architect, Moran Munyuthe who lives and works in Lamu, designed the collection called The Mashirbirya Collection, which comprises a table and chair. Mashirbirya patterns are seen in Arabic-Bantu architecture, usually part of a wooden lattice screen that is used to shade the interior of buildings and decorate the exterior. Mashirbirya patterns are intricate, the style reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Lamu and how the culture of the Arab traders to Africa’s East coast where assimilated into the local Bantu culture.

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Ifeanyi Oganwu Furniture Design For Toghal African Inspired Textiles

  Dotted around the lounge at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair was a collection of colourful, contemporary seating by product designer Ifeanyi Oganwu, African inspired textiles design brand Toghal and jewellery designer Artist Phoebe Boswell. Ifeanyi was approached by Dayo Forster, Toghal’s founder to create a seating structure on which to present their cylindrical bolster cushions.  

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Adele Dejak Launches Luxury Lifestyle Interior Accessories Collection

The Adele Dejak Lifestyle brand was launched in 2014 and brings the modern elegance and luxury Africa aesthetic of Adele Dejak jewellery designs to interior decor accessories and bespoke home products. The Adele Dejak Lifestyle collection includes stylish bowls, spoons, and candle holders all handcrafted from Ankole cow horn, which is sourced from Uganda and is a by-product of the beef industry.  

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Otago Chandeliers Inspired by Dinka Corsets for Nandos

The intricate corsets worn by the Dinka of South Sudan are the inspiration for a bespoke range of African design lighting for a Nandos restaurant in Harrogate, UK. Worn by men, the bright colour coded Dinka corset indicates age, status and wealth within the community, whilst women wear a colourful beaded shawl type collar that also indicates age, status and wealth, read a previous feature I did on the corsets here. The lighting designs were based on the colour and the drape of the beaded strands, resulting in a collection of strikingly sophisticated yet fun lighting in keeping with Nandos’ quirky […]

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Peponi House Modern African Interior Design Style

A kiSwahili word meaning paradise, ideal or idyllic place or state, ‘Peponi’ is the name given to a thoughtfully styled home, whose Kenyan owner’s wanted their living space to reflect this sentiment by creating a sanctuary from the bustling city. A three-story Victorian conversion, located in London’s Notting Hill, Peponi House pays homage to contemporary African interior design style and culture, drawing on the owner’s layered cultural background, travels and memories. Completed in February 2015, Peponi House was designed by Studio [D] Tale, who were commissioned to create a ‘home from home’ experience. Founded by Safia Qureshi and Maxwell Mutanda, […]

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Kenyan Jewellery Designer Gladys Macharia For Urbanara

UK online interiors and lifestyle brand URBANARA has teamed up with Kenyan jewellery designer Gladys Macharia to create a beautiful collection of table linens, that are just perfect for summer. The Awasi collection comprises 100% cotton napkins, placemats and table runners hand printed by artisans in Nairobi. [Image credit: Gladys Macharia, Awasi Collection Table Runner and Napkin – URBANARA]

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Kanga Kulture For KISUA Modern African Fashion Online

[Image credit: African Print Pleat Jacket – Kanga Kulture for KISUA] Kenyan women’s wear designer Juliet Kwamboka has teamed up with KISUA premier retailer of modern African fashion online to create Kanga Kulture for KISUA, an exclusive capsule collection perfect for the perpetual globetrotter.

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From Kenya W Love – African Fashion Pop Up Shop

On Tuesday evening I braved the cold and made my way towards Covent Garden, Monmouth Street to be exact, where fashion boutique, Sapellé was holding a press evening to celebrate their pop-up in collaboration with the Festival for African Fashion and Arts (FAFA Kenya). A lovely evening, in attendance were Daphne Kasambala founder of Sapellé; Ann McCreath, the co-founder of FAFA Kenya and the Kenyan fashion label KikoRomeo; and Hebret Lakew of Kenyan fashion label, Kooroo, all on hand to chat about their work.

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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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East African Print Kanga Cloth Lamps And Pendants

Recently introduced to Primitive Modern Arts, a Los Angeles-based gallery and boutique, I was taken with the vibrant, colourful East African print Kanga cloth lamps and pendants dotted around the space. Made by Wamuhu Waweru, the founder of Primitive Modern Arts, or PriMo Arts as it is also known, the lighting have an air of festivity about them, quite apt for the space in which they are displayed. A designer, stylist and event producer, Wamuhu set-up PriMo Arts in the summer of 2012, and has just celebrated the gallery’s first year in existence. [Image credits: Light Pendants, Lamps, and Fabrics – […]

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Luxury Africa Travel To Ngerende Island Lodge Kenya

Offering guests luxury in the Kenyan wilderness, Ngerende Island Lodge is a five-star luxury lodge situated on the Olchoro – Oirogua Conservation Ranch, bordering the northern part of Kenya’s famed Masai Mara game reserve. Located close to the Mara River, the Lodge is surrounded by water on all sides, bar a tiny passage that prevents it from completely becoming an island in the true sense of the word, but this does not take away from the feeling of indulgent isolation and wonder at being away from it all, in a place that is a four-hour drive from Nairobi. The Lodge, however, has its […]

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Functional And Fashionable East African Leather Products

From a factory based on the outskirts of Karen, in Kenya, high-quality leather, suede and canvas materials are expertly crafted into a range of stylish personal and travel East African leather products. The factory is the home of Rift Valley Leather, a local company that through its products, actively works to promote local handcrafting skills; and takes care to utilise materials, like camel and calf hides, that have been sourced exclusively in the East African region.

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African Furniture Design Products Decadent Daybeds

What can be more decadent than spending the day lounging on a daybed or chaise lounge, especially in warm sunny weather? Daybeds/Chaise Longues are my favourite piece of furniture, and when I had my flat I opted for a daybed/chaise longue footstool combo, rather than the traditional three-piece sofa and arm chair set-up; and it proved to be the perfect piece of furniture to unwind after a hard days work. Unfortunately for me, my guests thought so too, and to this day regularly ‘hijack’ my daybed/chaise, not that I am complaining; if I had my way I would fill my […]

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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