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A Peaceful Weekend Home In Zimbabwe’s Matobo Hills

  Matobo also known as Matopos in the southern region of Zimbabwe is an area of outstanding natural beauty, known for its imposing gravity-defying granite formations, balancing rock formations created by the gradual erosion of the area’s granite plateau. These formations form the Matobo National Hills a part of the Matobo National Park. The Matobo Hills are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the area is recognised for the highest concentration of prehistoric rock paintings in Southern Africa. It is also the historical land of King Mzilikazi and his son Lobengula. For lovers of wildlife, the Matobo National Park is […]

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Calling All Emerging Accessory Designers Enter The ABURY Design Experience

If you are passionate about designing and producing accessories that not only look good but have a positive impact, then it is not too late to enter the Abury Design Experience (ADEx) competition to be in with a chance to create a capsule accessories collection for the sustainable luxury accessory brand, Abury. Abury’s ethos is to combine traditional, old-world crafts with avant-garde design to create a new luxury style that fosters intercultural exchange and helps preserves world crafts. And, now in its second year, ADEx is an international design competition- held in partnership with Harper’s Bazaar Germany -that builds on […]

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The Ndau Collection Luxury Scents Inspired by Africa Past And Present

Zimbabwean jewellery label The Ndau Collection launched their first collection of luxury scents inspired by Africa past and present. The collection was created in collaboration with South African parfumer, Tammy Frazer of Frazer Parfum. Blended from rare botanicals and aromatics each scent takes the wearer on a journey inspired by Africa’s past and present, from the origins of perfume on the continent to the treks of the continent’s first inhabitants through to the present day traveller.

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NeoBantu Vibrant Modern African Print Clothing Pays Homage to Africa

Bold patterns, vibrant colours, and contemporary classic silhouettes tailored to fit each wearer are the hallmarks of NeoBantu, a Dallas-based fashion label that was co-founded by pharmacist Tendai Tawonezvi. Hailing from Zimbabwe, NeoBantu is a celebration of Tendai’s heritage; embracing modern African print clothing and pays homage to the wider African continent. The company name is derived from ‘Neo’ meaning new and ‘Bantu’, the peoples, culture and languages of sub-Saharan Africa. [Image credit: Alba Tuxedo Pants and Blazer – NeoBantu]

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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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Basket Case II Showcasing Contemporary Zimbabwe Baskets

In 2010 I featured Basket Case, a pioneering exhibition of contemporary Zimbabwe baskets from some of the southern African country’s leading basket-weaving organisations. The exhibition was the initiative of The New Basket Workshop, a South African based organisation that works with rural basketry groups in a number of African countries including Zimbabwe, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa to assist with areas such as product development and accessing international markets. Building on Basket Case, 2014 saw the presentation of Basket Case II, a showcase of cutting-edge basketry produced by a select group of local and international artists and designers commissioned to work […]

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Shea Mooti Organic Baby Skin Care Products

[Image credit: Pampered Baby Sleep Kit, Gift Set – Shea Mooti] Based in London, Shea Mooti founder and former nurse, Violet Reid started making her own baby skin care products to treat the dry eczema-prone skin of her newborn son. Having found that baby skin care products, even if labeled natural and organic, often made her son’s skin condition worse, and Violet realised that the only way to ensure the products she used were pure was to make them herself. Violet enrolled in a natural soap-making course in 2007, where she learnt about the effects of certain ingredients; and more […]

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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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Lupane Women’s Centre Zimbabwe Modern African Baskets

Looking like they have been swirled with delicate watercolours, this gorgeous range of traditionally handcrafted modern African baskets is the result of a partnership between the Lupane Women’s Centre in Zimbabwe and the Kingston University Design School in the UK, bringing a contemporary edge to traditional African design. The initiative entitled, Kingston Project Africa was created to facilitate the exchange and support of knowledge between both regions, and led by Professor Catherine McDermott utilises the expertise of academics, industry practitioners and curators across various projects and collaborations. [Main image credit: Baskets – Lupane Women’s Centre in Partnership with Kingston Project Africa]

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Safari Fusion Traditional African Design Colourful Batonga Stools

Bursting with colours that are right up my street, Australian retailer Safari Fusion is always guaranteed to lift my spirits, and yesterday as the view outside my window gradually disappeared under a rather depressing blanket of mist and fog, unexpectedly finding myself on the site provided the perfect antidote. I love joyous happy colours and the brighter the better, so was instantly taken with some colourful Batonga stools, a traditional icon example of African design that are hand carved in Zimbabwe by the Tonga peoples, who historically reside in the Zambezi Valley region to the West and North West of the country.

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African Food Made Easy Pepper & Stew Cooking Sauces

Sky Living TV channel in the UK is currently running a series called Cooks to Market. The concept of the show is to get budding cooks and food brands onto retail shelves, and see two different brands going up against each other and selling their product in food market and win the chance to pitch their idea to a panel of leading food UK experts. Of the two episodes I have managed to catch, both featured African food brands who  both outsold their rivals to go on and make impassioned pitches, which has landed both brands shelf space in Partridges, one of the […]

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Egypt Based Artist Gavin Worth Freestanding Wire Sculptures

It took me a heartbeat before I realised that what I was looking at was not in fact large-scale line drawings on a stark white wall, but instead freestanding wire sculptures that look like someone just took a pencil and started sketching in mid air. The evocative, three-dimensional drawings are the work of Egypt based artist Gavin Worth, whom I came across a few days ago courtesy of Aphro Chic.

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Raymond Masara Wire Work Contemporary African Furniture Design

Like a pieces of string squiggled across a page, innovative Zimbabwean furniture designer, Raymond Masara creates a colourful, range of stools, tables, lamps and lounge chairs from steel rod wirework techniques. Raymond’s colour choices are inspired by nature and the intriguing twisted shapes reflect and connect him to a childhood growing up in pain and poverty creating a dynamic form of contemporary African furniture design [Image credits: top left, Lighting – Raymond Masara;  clockwise from top right, Raymond Masara Table, Stool and Chair via dbriefed]

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Kudhinda Fabrics Zimbabwe Screen Prints Modern African Textiles

Back home in Harare no school art lesson was complete without a potato carved with a design that would then be printed across paper or fabric in an array of colours. I haven’t done potato-printing in ages, but used to love stamping whatever I could get my hands on, getting caught-up in the rhythmic process of it all. In Zimbabwe’s Shona language ‘Kudhinda’ means to stamp or imprint, and is the name given to locally based textile brand that produces distinctive colourful modern African textiles that have been carefully hand-printed using potato prints, screen-printed and hand-painted. I first got to […]

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Mbare Colourful Contemporary African Art Metal Masks

    A modern take on the ceremonial masks found across the African continent, these colourful contemporary African art  Masks were made by members of the Improved Arts Metal Sculpture Project, a business based in Harare, Zimbabwe that was founded by the Mhankha Brothers in 1986, who upon discovering their artistic talents sought to depict African natural history through their innovative metalwork creations, that are made from old tin cans and other scrap metals gathered from businesses in Harare’s industrial areas.

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Shumba Inc Hand Felted African Products And Gifts

No words necessary with this sentimental card that captures the spirit of love. Using felt, the card is part of a modern range of hand felted African products and gifts handcrafted by Harare based company Shumba Inc, whose cute and quirky products I have featured before here. [Image credit: KIssing Couple Card – Shumba Inc]

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Tariro Masayiti Senior Zimbabwean Winemaker, Nederburg South Africa

My Dad loves a glass of red wine every once in while, and South African wines are a particular favourite as being so far from home it’s a small reminder of the region. However nostalgia aside, over the years South African wines in general have become an increasing presence on UK retail shelves, from supermarkets to dedicated wine shops. One of the more established brands is Nederburg, one of South Africa’s oldest and most awarded wineries, whose vintages have a growing international presence, holding their own in the highly competitive markets of Europe, US, Australia; and their homegrown success can partly […]

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Ndau Collections Eclectic Jewellery Inspired By Africa

I have a thing for peacock feathers; must be the vivid colours, so instantly honed in on the Peacock Feather and Silver Cuff from the Ndau Collection, jewellery inspired by Africa designed by a collective of jewellery and accessory designers based in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. I would like to wear it round my neck, just image the effect when paired with an LDB not necessarily in black though, I’m thinking fuchsia or teal blue… Growing up in Harare, the city and indeed much of the major tourist areas of the country were full of shops showcasing the arts and crafts of […]

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Tashanda Zimbabwe Sadza Batik Accessories Modern African Textile

The Zimbabwe Sadza Batik is a modern African textile, staking its claim as a future ‘traditional’ fabric and is one that takes pride of place across homes around the country and beyond in the form of wall hangings, bedspreads and tablecloths; I have mine that my mum brought back for me from Zimbabwe, I’m just trying to find the right size frame for it to hang on the wall, a task that has proved harder than I thought. The Sadza batik process works in much in the same way as the traditional wax batik method, substituting the wax for Sadza; […]

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Spectacular Africa Travel To Victoria Falls Safari Lodge

Last summer I spent four amazing days representing Zimbabwe with my jewellery at an art fair in Oxfordshire; amongst the memories I left with were the number of people who stopped by my table to reminisce on their visit to Zimbabwe, frequently mentioning Victoria Falls; and what really made my day was hearing how most of them had visited within the last few years. The Victoria Falls is a must see Africa travel destination; and is a place that holds a special place in my heart; not only did I get to work on some of the brands established in […]

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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