Water Hyacinth is a plant that takes root in waterways the world over, causing destruction to aquatic and plant eco-systems. For communities that rely on their waterways for food, livelihoods, and transportation water hyacinth blocks access to the water essential to their survival. In Nigeria, a local social enterprise, MitiMeth, is harvesting water hyacinth and turning it into functional handcrafted products, and empowering members of the local community.
Luxury artisanal accessory brand AAKS has launched a stunning home decor collection inspired by the theme Weaving for Change. The collection comprises five distinctive handcrafted lamps and light pendants, each created in partnership with women artisans from the Tuareg community in Northern Mali who are living as refugees in Burkina Faso. In working with this Tuareg community AAKS are helping to celebrate and preserve the community’s cultural identity and their time-honoured basket weaving traditions, a philosophy that has defined AAKS’s work with local communities in Ghana.
Our choice of art says a lot about who we are, reflecting our tastes and experiences amongst other indicators. And despite digital platforms enabling us to discover original talent the sheer amount of information being put out can sometimes have the opposite effect of making it difficult to find, purchase or remember where we saw artwork that represents who we are in one place. Enter Ayok’a, a curated platform that brings together the work of talented black artists making it easy for you to find stylish, original and representative artwork to adorn your walls or carry about your person in the form of lifestyle accessories. To find out more about this exciting platform I caught up with founder Alice Gbelia. [Main image credit: Black by Adekunle Adeleke]
Please introduce yourself, and tell us a bit about your platform, Ayok’a and the meaning behind the name?
I am Alice Gbelia, an Ivorian who grew up in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and Lille (France). I’ve also lived in Paris, London and currently reside in Zurich. My friends know me as a “cultural activist”: any projects I’ve been involved in were about promoting art and culture from the African diaspora. While living in London, I used to have a blog dedicated to Afro-Caribbean events in the city. I also once organized a pop-up shop featuring black designers. Our community is full of talent, I’ve made it a mission to help shine a light on this talent.
The launch of luxury tea brand YSWARA’s Johannesburg tearoom has been joined by the opening of one in Accra, Ghana. The YSWARA tearoom and boutique is part of a collaborative space shared with local retailer Luxury Living and Akrafo, YSWARA’S sister brand of gourmet condiment’s, bringing gourmet and interior decor experience to the city’s stylish residents.
Olivia Knox is an interior accessories company born out of seeing the beauty in Ankole horn, which has a distinctive light ivory colour. The company was founded by Olivia Byanyima who hails from Uganda and lives in New York, and Shanley Knox from California, and is driven by the story of Olivia’s childhood in Uganda, where she spent a lot of time on her father’s ranch watching his herd of Ankole cattle roam the surrounding plains alongside buffalo, zebra, leopard, and lion.
Ancient Adinkra symbols and the wisdom of Ghanaian proverbs serve as the decorative backdrop to a collection of handmade and handprinted interior textiles and decor accessories by AMWA Designs, a UK-based studio that was founded in 2014 by textile designer Chrissa Amuah, a graduate of Chelsea College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London.
The ancient art Of Egyptian appliqué has inspired a textile project called Kheyameya. Kheyameya refers to the intricately stitched textiles made by the legendary Tentmakers of Cairo, highly skilled artists who for centuries have created appliqué textiles that were traditionally used to line the interior of tents. As time has passed the number of artists has dwindled and the Khayameya produced today are mainly for home furnishings or wall hangings for the tourist market.
Just in time for the Christmas season of giving Aduna Baobab has released a collection of gift tins each covered in one of the brand’s signature African print textile inspired patterns, accentuated with a pop art twist. The tins are designed to store favourite foods and snacks or to give as gifts.
Mhondoro Game Lodge in Welgevonden Reserve, South Africa opened in early 2016 and seeks to move beyond being just another luxury Africa travel bush destination. Designed to give guests a seamless experience of luxury interiors and bushveld landscape Mhondoro Game Lodge combines cutting-edge architecture with some of the best in African design interior inspiration. The Mhondoro Game Lodge was created by interior designer Myriam Vogel who co-owns the lodge with her husband Frank.