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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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Exhibition Honouring Legendary Malian Photographer, Malick Sidibé

The first UK solo exhibition honouring the work of the legendary Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé is currently showing at Somerset House in London. Often affectionately referred to as ‘the eye of Bamako’ Sidibé was one of Africa’s and indeed the world’s foremost photographers of the 20th Century, renowned for his iconic black and white images of ’60s and ’70s Mali that captured a youthful generation reveling in the freedom, confidence, and hope of independence. Images through which Sidibé created a valuable archive of modern Mali. Malick Sidibe’s death aged 80, in April this year marked the end of a life privileged to capture […]

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African Art: Malian Artist Abdoulaye Konate’s Textile Installations

Abdoulaye Konaté is an award winning Malian artist who produces evocative textile installations that have captivated African art collectors. Inspired by colour, which he sees as a potent conveyor of meaning, Abdoulaye’s vividly hued textiles are created using sewing and appliqué techniques to create pieces that range from strips of fabric in graduating shades through to thought-provoking imagery.  [Main image credit: Abdoulaye Konaté – Detail Couple H, 2014. Mixed media – wood, metal, fabric. 250 x 170 cm (98⅜ x 66⅞ in) Courtesy of the Artist and Blain|Southern Photographer: Christian Gläser, 2015 via widewalls]

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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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Contemporary African Home Decor Mali Chic Boutique

Perfect perched in a hallway or at the end of a bed, when I first saw the image of this embroidered bench I thought it had beaded detailing across seat area, such is the effect of the textured pattern from afar. Beautifully and skillfully woven, the textile covering is made from cotton upholstered onto a wooden bench frame handmade by the artisans of Mali Chic, a boutique and workshop based in Bamako, Mali. Mali Chic works with a network of over 195 local artisans; to produce a diverse range of traditional and contemporary African home decor, furniture, fabrics, clothing, jewellery and personal accessories […]

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African Interior Design Style, Taste and Culture

A blend of African, European and Asian cultural influences underpins the elegant style of interior designer Diane Tevoedjre, whose contemporary African interior design style solutions draw on her upbringing, travels and life experiences. The daughter of a diplomat, Diane is of Malian and Beninese heritage and was born in Ghana, and has lived in the US, Italy, Germany, Belgium, France, the Far East, Central and West Africa, and Switzerland to name a few. Starting her professional career as an art dealer and interior designer over 15 years ago after studying in Geneva, Dallas and Paris, in addition to a period living in Bangkok where she […]

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African Textiles Aboubakar Fofana Malian Indigo Dye Master

When I lived in Harare, Dendera Gallery in the city centre was a favourite haunt of mine. Close to the studio I worked in, I would spend many a lunch-time browsing and occasionally buying from the fascinating collection of art sourced across the African continent. I fell in love with the beautifully dyed authentic Indigo fabrics, and to this day kick myself for having not bought one… I’m not sure why I didn’t as I kept saying I would, I guess I got caught up in my move to the UK. I still think of them every now and then, […]

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African Jewellery Brand Tamacali Inspired By Ancient Traditions

African jewellery brand Tamacali is a creative enterprise that draws on the ancient jewellery traditions of Malian Dogon, Tuareg and Togolese peoples. Seeking to bring together the talented artisans from these tribes Tamacali was founded in 2005 by Tetou Gologo, a Malian contemporary artist and the enterprise produces some amazing jewellery pieces that have a fresh modern feel without losing the heritage of the past. [Image credit: Tamacali]

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BBC Human Planet And Africa Travel To La Maison Rouge in Mopti

The BBC recently did an 8 part series entitled Human Planet, exploring man’s relationship with nature in the world today. Beautifully shot, the series looked at diverse environments such as: cities, rainforests and mountains. Unfortunately I caught it near the end of its run, but managed to see the episode featuring deserts. This episode looked in part at the annual re-plastering of the Great Mosque in Djenne, Mali – a day-long festival involving the community. Re-plastering annually is necessary as heavy seasonal rains can ‘melt’ the fragile structures. [Image source: The Great Mosque, Mali – the GreenProphet]

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Ancient Mali Textiles Weaving Traditions Meet Innovation

Age-old Mali textiles hand weaving traditions unite with innovative materials to produce a beautiful array of interior and exterior textiles courtesy of Yéleen Design. Formed in 2003 and located in Bamako, Mali; Yéleen Design is the creation of respected designer Aida Duplessis. [Image credit: Yéleen Design]

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L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu Scents Inspired by Africa

[Image credit: L’Artisan Parfumeur] In a collection inspired by travels and capturing the sweetest, familiar scents found across the globe; Timbuktu is the second fragrance of master parfumeur, Betrand Duchaufour’s L’Artisan Parfumeur travel collection. With a passion for capturing elusive scents that invoke a sense of place, Betrand has spent time travelling the world. For scents inspired by Africa in West Africa, Betrand was inspired by the rich scents found and the traditional art of Wusulan, the Malian art of making perfume, which captured his imagination.

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Cheick Diallo’s Elegant Innovative African Furniture Designs

[Image credits: Diallo Design] Cheick Diallo the innovative furniture designer behind Diallo Design studied Architecture in France and whilst there discovered his love for furniture design. One of Africa’s leaders in innovate product and furniture design Diallo aims to bring a cosmopolitan view to contemporary African furniture design by creating a bridge between ancient wisdom and modern sensuality.

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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