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FatyLy Ceramics Bringing to Life The Stories of Africa’s rich cultural and artistic heritage

Fatimata ‘Faty’ Ly is a Senegalese artist who uses ceramics as her canvas, the blank surfaces enabling her to bring to life the stories of Africa’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. A graduate of London’s prestigious Central St Martin’s Faty is based in Dakar, Senegal where she designs her eponymous collections for production in Limoges, France, an area famed for its production of hard-paste porcelain.

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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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IFA Pure Gold Upcycled! Upgraded! Exhibition Exploring Sustainable Design

  Greetings from the city of Hamburg in Germany where I am attending the press conference and opening of Pure Gold – Upcycled! Upgraded! a forward-thinking exhibition that explores rubbish, more specifically how found and waste materials are being used the world over to create objects of value, hence the title, Pure Gold. As one of the curators, I had the honour of selecting designers-makers to represent sub-Saharan Africa.   [Image credit: H++, Chair and table set, 2011; Water hyacinth, metal, yarn, wood chair – Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman]    

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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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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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Le Dessein Empowering Young Girls Through Educated Fashion

I love hearing about brands that seek innovative ways to make a difference in the world and was immediately captivated by the story behind Le Dessein, no ordinary fashion brand. Based in the US, Le Dessein uses fashion to educate and empower young girls in developing countries and has a goal of educating 10,000 girls in ten years. And, what is different about the business model is that rather than simply creating a collection and selling the clothes, they have chosen to make the girls they support an active part of the brand. This is achieved by embroidering art sketches […]

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Tiossan Luxury Skin Care Collection Made in Senegal

Serial entrepreneur Magatte Wade, the founder of Adina World Beat Beverages, has created a new brand of luxury skin care called Tiossan. The first of its kind from Senegal, where Magatte hails from,  Tiossan products are made using ancient recipes and natural African botanicals that help to keep skin vibrant and healthy, and combat ageing.  

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Farewell to Contemporary African Furniture Designer Babacar Niang

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned an exhibition opening on the 24th March in New York that would feature the work of Senegalese furniture designer Babacar Niang, amongst others. It is therefore with great sadness and shock that I just learnt of Babacar’s passing on the 25th March 2015. The contemporary African furniture designer, working through his studio Nulangee, possessed a unique design vision that brought forth sublime designs infused with his trademark lifelike qualities. A great talent, Babacar’s passing leaves a void in Africa’s burgeoning design industry, one that will be keenly felt. May you rest in peace […]

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Sustainable Design Legacy Of Furniture Designer Baay Xaaly Sene

Cutting, hammering and soldering discarded metals such as train tracks, barrels and wheels, and turning them into elegant, stylish, collectable objects was the trademark of Senegalese artist and furniture designer Baay Xaaly Sene. The furniture designer, who died in October 2004, left behind a body of work that is sought after by discerning collectors for its pops of bright colours and contemporary classic forms that combine art and functionality. [Image credit: Moscow apartment of Russian designer, Dmitry Velikovsky showing Baay Xaaly Sene Armchair – Architectural Digest]

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Interview With Souadou Barry of Fulani HB Luxury Handbags

Last year in March, I introduced Fulani HB luxury handbags and accessory line based in the US which utilises beautifully woven traditional Senegalese fabrics. I recently caught with the designer, Souadou Barry to chat about her latest Autumn/Winter collection, gaining an insight into her inspirations, processes, and the woman she designs for.

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Chouette Mama Natural Restorative West African Skin care

The soothing, nourishing, regenerating and healing properties of West Africa’s indigenous plant life forms the basis of a range of 100% natural African skin care products formulated by Senegalese based business, Chouette Mama. The business was founded in 2007 by Phil and Geraldine Pernin, a French couple with an interest in botany, that led them to relocate to Popenguine, a small village on the Senegalese coast with idea of setting up a laboratory creating a natural African skin care brand based around plants that have been used locally for generations.

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Artlantique Contemporary African Furniture From Senegal

Weathered by the elements, wood salvaged from old or discarded fishing boats is given a new lease of life as contemporary furniture collections, whilst retaining the hallmarks of its former life. Along the coasts of West Africa fishermen have long been a common sight, making daily trips into the ocean in brightly coloured narrow boats crafted by highly skilled craftsmen; and it is this connection between fishing and carpentry that inspired Artlantique to produce its distinctive and colourful contemporary African furniture, which design in Spain by Ramón Llonch and handcrafted in Senegal by a team of master craftsmen. [Image credit: Commode Thies – Artlantique]

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African Print And Afro Chic Interior Design Inspiration

An explosion of clashing colour and pattern characterises an idyllic holiday home in Senegal that I came across on the blog, Africa Moto. Located in the popular resort town of Saly, simple outdoor living is the order of the day conveyed in a mix of local, regional and Parisian influences that offer up Afro Chic interior design inspiration. A striking feature of the house is how it is decorated with African print. [Image credits: Senegalese Holiday home – Elle Decoration France/M P Morel]

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Loman Art Upcycled Creations Contemporary African Art

Creating poetry, songs and works of art, designer Loman Pawlitschek is the embodiment of the term ‘creative spirit’. Creating mobiles and other decorative art features like mirrors, Loman is committed to upcycling, taking unwanted and discarded scrap metals and materials, turning them into functional contemporary African art objects of value. Originally from Australia, Loman and her family moved to South Africa for a few years where she worked as an interior decorator, before moving to Dakar, Senegal where she has lived for four years; and where her business Loman Art is based. Dakar has been a source of inspiration for Loman who […]

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Toni Okujeni Contemporary African Art Village des Artes Senegal

En route to Dakar’s airport is Village des Artes; a thriving contemporary African art community of artists, painters, sculptors based in former worker cottages that have been turned into art studio/workshops, with a central gallery holding exhibitions. The set up and atmosphere of the place took me back to my days at the art department at Harare Polytechnic; fresh out of high school and preparing to embark on a creative career but uncertain of what I wanted to be, and seizing the opportunities to dabble in printmaking, life drawing, painting, ceramics and more whilst surrounded by fellow creatives in the same […]

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Aissa Dione Tissus Luxury African Textiles Designer

Businesses, schools, private residences, galleries, shops, hotels, workshops and studios opening up their spaces to hold exhibitions as part of the Dak’art OFF programme, brought the opportunity to meet with the artists and designers behind the works if you got your timing right. Opening the doors of her home was award-winning textile artist Aissa Dione Tissus, who was displaying the works of several artists in her elegant surroundings. Aissa was very welcoming and I was honoured to meet her; it was one of the many occasions I wished I spoke French, as there was so much I wanted to ask. Aissa […]

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Contemporary African Art Senegalese Artist Papa Ibra Tall

Several months ago I coveted a dress made out of gorgeously colourful clashing prints, alas no available size meant it remained on the hanger, but was reminded of the distinctive print when I saw some stunning tapestries by renowned Senegalese artist Papa Ibra Tall, whose exhibition opening was one of the first I stumbled upon during Dak’art 2012. Held at the Place du Souvenir, the event was a retrospective of sorts celebrating the artist’s long career in international and contemporary African art, a lively well attended occasion that saw guests milling about observing the art and enjoying the warm evening, serenaded by the jazzy sounds of the National […]

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Africa Travel To Senegal Four Weeks Immersed in Creativity

Nanga def, (‘hello, how are you’ in Wolof… and, also the name given to a rather yummy cocktail!). Four weeks in Dakar have come and gone leaving in their wake a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and colours. My time Dakar was amazing, surpassing my expectations. There are times when some things are just meant to be, when everything just comes together; I felt that during my time in Senegal. I went to Senegal with no real plan of what I was going to do, having deliberately chosen to adopt a-wait-till-I-get-there approach. Unbeknownst to me at the time of planning, my trip […]

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On Holiday

On Holiday Greetings from the vibrant city of Dakar, Senegal; which has been my home for the last two weeks and will be for the next two, as I take time out to indulge in a bit of r&r, whilst soaking up the local culture; and the main reason for my silence! Posts have been few and far between over the last few weeks as I was busy sorting myself out and completing last minute tasks before my trip; and although I was hoping to create some posts whilst on holiday, unexpected restrictions with accessing my provider services means its […]

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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