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Julie Kouamo Evocative African Inspired Textile Prints

Julie Kouamo is a French/Cameroonian print textile designer whose bold, evocative fabric and wallpaper designs feature multi-layered patterns, textures and images in a collage like effect. Establishing her eponymous label, Juli launched her debut collection in 2008 creating a stylish, contemporary collection of colourful African inspired textiles with a multitude uses, from; sofa coverings, curtains, cushions, hanging panels more. The fabric designs are complemented by a range of wallpaper. Produced in the UK where Julie is based, all fabrics are hand printed and some hand dyed.

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Nigerian Batik And Textile Artist Nike Davies Okundaye

Inspired by her great-grandmother, a weaver and Adire textile maker/dyer, Nike Davies Okundaye is one of Nigeria’s most celebrated textile artists and painters, as well as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist whose passion and dedication towards reviving her country’s artistic and cultural heritage is truly inspiring. Traditions are so often passed down from generation to generation in the form of vocational hands-on-training, and this was the case for Nike who received no formal training, instead taking what she learned from her great-grandmother and developing her own skills and style. [Image credit: Reverse Applique Wall Hanging – Nike Centre for Art and Culture]

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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 […]

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Banke Kuku Award Winning African Inspired Textiles

Inspired by a fusion of African and western culture Banke Kuku, is a luxury African inspired textiles and interiors accessories brand that specialises in innovative printed and woven textiles. Nigerian born and London-based; creative director and founder Banke Kuku, draws on her culture and heritage to create bespoke patterns and textiles rich with colour and texture. Her textiles have been used in the collections of some of the world’s leading designers including Duro Olowu, Jasmine di Milo, Burberry; and more recently Jewel by Lisa Spring/Summer 2012, which I previously featured here. [Image credit: Victorian Chairs – Banke Kuku]

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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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Comfort & Samuel Homage To West African Textiles Heritage

Give your bedroom an instant makeover with a refreshing range of colourful bed linens from Comfort & Samuel. Based in the UK, Comfort & Samuel’s elegant collections, which also include cushions and personal accessories, draw inspiration from West African textiles, designs and prints by tapping into the Continent’s diverse textile heritage. [Image credits: left, Ododo; and right, Osun, Samuel and Alabi Cushions – Comfort & Samuel]

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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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Muya Ethiopia Inspired By Rich Ethiopian Textiles Heritage

Muya Ethiopia was founded in 2005 by fashion design entrepreneur Sara Abera, whose primary aim was to introduce the rich Ethiopian textiles heritage to the world through a range of interior and fashion textiles that combined the traditional techniques with modern influences. [Image credits: Woven Textiles and Pottery – Muya Ethiopia]

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Oshiwa Hand Carved African Textile Stamping Blocks 

Oshiwa is a carving workshop based in Namibia. The company creates hand carved African textile stamping blocks for use on fabrics as well as paper. Established in 1994 by by Anita Brandt, the stamps are the creations of Kavango woodcarvers; Paulus Mutunda, Dhumba Joseph, and Joseph Kanwa who originally started out by producing hand-carved photo frames before turning to the textile printing blocks. Meticulously hand-carved the designs are based on whatever the artist feels compelled to carve at that moment, and each stamp bears the name of the carver written in pencil along the side or on the back. [Image credit: […]

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Skinny laMinx South African Textiles Afro-Scandi Style

As winter gives way to spring, the promise of warmer weather and daylight lasting well into the evening sees braai (barbeque) stands and patio furniture being given a good dusting as entertaining starts to move outdoors, calling for impromptu get togethers and picnics in the park. As we wait for the brighter days, why not get ahead start with colourful and quirky table and kitchen linens from Skinny laMinx, contemporary South African textiles design that bring a refreshing touch of playfulness to meal times. [Image credit: Skinny laMinx Tea Towels]

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Tamara Magel East African Textiles Kanga Cushions

Cushions galore! I have featured quite a few, but they are such a quick and easy way to instantly transform an interior and whilst on the US edition of Elle Decor I came across some some East African textiles pillows by New York-based interior designer Tamara Magel, that use Kanga fabric, in a range of assorted graphic patterns. [Image credits: patterned Pillows – Tamara Magel]

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Sabahar Contemporary Eri And Mulberry Silk Ethiopian Textiles

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, you will find the Sabahar Silk Garden, a place celebrating and promoting the artistry and heritage of Ethiopian textiles and long standing weaving traditions. Ethiopian textiles weaving dates back to ancient times and all the products produced are woven on traditional looms using age old techniques, that have been passed down through the generations; however some of the techniques are in danger of dying out in favour of modern, often imported products. Named after the Queen of Sheba ‘Saba’ and ‘Har’ the Amharic word for silk; Sabahar works with artisans from around the country, designing and producing stylish […]

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Sabine Pieper Illustrations Vlisco Delicate Shades Campaign

Having struggled with it in the beginning I soon grew to love the life drawing classes that were a fundamental part of my design course; and began increasingly looking forward to a whole day of losing myself in interpreting the contours and shadows of the model’s body onto paper. Starting out shading with pencils, pastels quickly became my medium of choice, rendering the figure in simple black lines and then going ‘crazy’ with the bright colours to pick out the pattern and texture in clothing and accessories, this gave my work the feeling of a layered effect. I haven’t done […]

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AphroChic African American Interiors And Lifestyle Inspiration

There are some truly amazing and inspiring blogs out there and not enough time to get through them all on a regular basis. Before I started this blog I was constantly amazed at the power of blogs in allowing people to deliver their own personal take on creativity and diversity with relative ease, regularly logging onto a handful of favourites to get my daily fix of style, colour and inspiration. One of the blogs I came across and am still constantly inspired by is the Philadelphia-based AphroChic, channeling African American interiors and lifestyle inspiration, in fact it was the imagery from the online shop that caught […]

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Luke Irwin Custom-Made Hand Knotted African Inspired Rugs

I came across some beautifully patterned, richly hued rugs by Luke Irwin; a London-based designer and manufacturer of custom-made hand knotted rugs. Believing that a rug should be a foundation upon which various elements of an interior’s décor are brought together, Luke Irwin works closely with clients to create the desired piece and the portfolio on the website offers a glimpse into some of the design possibilities, and was the place where I found a few rugs that I like to think of as being ‘African Inspired’ given the names, themes and distinctive patterns used; ‘Botswana’ and ‘African Crescent’. [Image credit: […]

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Cobra Society Boots And North African Kilim Textiles

The latest print issue of Vogue UK has an interesting article on the rise of a new breed of entrepreneur that they’ve called ‘globalists’; trend-setters who combine fair trade principles with business savvy whilst scouring the world for exciting new products that celebrate craft and heritage and marrying them with contemporary styling to create a fresh, modern and exciting product. Amongst the featured profiles was that of Cobra Society’s Alex Davis, whose debut Autumn/Winter 2011 collection of Western style boots with North African Kilim textiles was snapped up by Net-a-Porter.

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Ronél Jordaan Felted South African Interior Decor

Last week a cousin of mine was visiting London from South Africa, and I got to spend some time, albeit brief, showing him around London’s famous landmarks, taking pleasure in being a tourist for the day; we walked so much taking about 5 hours to cover the centre of the city in a circle. Making our way down Regent Street we passed the National Geographic Store and fascinated he wanted to go in have look around. As we crossed the threshold I noticed this large greyish rock in the window display, that I instantly recognised as one of Ronél Jordaan’s amazing South African interior […]

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Ibenstein Weavers A Family Heritage Of Namibian Weaving

With a weaving heritage spanning over 50 years, Ibenstein Weavers is a family owned business located a hour’s drive from Windhoek, Namibia. Run by Anne Ramdohr, the great-granddaughter of Ibenstein Weaver’s founder Marianne Krafft, high-quality carpets, wall hangings and runners are created using Karakul wool which comes from the Karakul sheep, a species not indigenous to Namibia, but one that was first introduced into the country in 1906 from what is now Uzbekistan. The Namibian weaving company also produces fabrics from natural yarns like cotton, bamboo, wild Kalahari Silk and linen. [Image credit: Ibenstein Weavers]

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  • This popular Africanisim beautifully illustrates the pioneering spirit of togethernes. It highlights how working and collaborating with others can propel you to new heights. Building a business rarely happens in isolation. Atelier Fifty Five seeks to to shine the light on African brands, and this includes extending a hand by sharing our knowledge and expertise to help African brands become the best they can be. So let us go together. Sign up to the Atelier Fifty Five Academy mailing list and join a community of ambitious creative business owners dedicated to creating brands that make their audiences sit up and take notice.⁣
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.  #quotes #inspirationalquotes #motivationalquotes #africanproverb #brandstrategy #creativeentrepreneur  #entrepreneur #mycreativebiz  #brandbuilding #africanstartup #africanbusiness #makeithappen
  • Preserving traditional skills the Kayla cushion by Frida 54 highlights the art of Tritik, a process of knotting and sewing that results in a variety of symmetric patterns. Handwoven with 100% cotton from the cotton mills of northern Cameroon the textiles are dyed with handmade dyes using ancestral techniques. [📷 credit: @frida_54 ]
  • Values . Respecting the design [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • Infuse your interior style with the colourful elegance of African beaded necklaces courtesy of The African Woven Necklace light shade by @moderngesture. The design features graduating circular hoops each hand wrapped with colourful woven thread bands. Handcrafted in Cape Town, South Africa by designer Candice Lawrence, the lighting is available in the  Atelier Fifty Five shop. [📷 credit: @atelierfiftyfive]
  • 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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Instagram @ atelierfiftyfive