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7 Designers and Artists Inspired by Scarification

Contemporary African designers and artists inspired by scarification and referencing the ancient African tradition in their work. Scarification is the process of superficially cutting, scratching, etching or burning permanent designs into the skin. This form of body decoration is a practice common to West Africa where for centuries the resultant markings expressed a form of unspoken communication such as rank, tribe, beauty, and strength. Patterns in the form of scars would range from simple markings to those more elaborate and intricate adorning the face, chest, torso arms and legs. Scarification is not for the faint-hearted, undergoing the practice was said […]

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9 Designers Crafting A Well Made In Africa Aesthetic

Atelier Fifty Five spotlights the work of 9 dynamic designers whose innovative use of Africa’s diverse craft heritages is translated into modern sophisticated products for contemporary living. And in doing so are upholding the banner of Well Made In Africa. Re-imagining techniques and materials these designers are paying homage to the skill of making things by hand thereby recognising how craft is at the heart of true luxury.

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Design Inspired by the Decorative Forms Of Adinkra Symbols

As I highlighted in a previous editorial on Adinkra symbols are a much-referenced communication system that has endured to present day. The Adinkra symbols designs carry within them centuries of wisdom and are among one of the African continent’s oldest writing systems. The symbols have inspired designers and artists the world over who have drawn on the distinctive graphic shapes to create anything from jewellery to patterned textiles. I introduce 5 contemporary African brands referencing the Adinkra symbols in their designs, and in doing so giving them relevance in a modern day and age.

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Seven Inspiring Modern African Design Collaborations

Collaboration is a powerful thing, the meeting of ideas to create new ones and at times offering up unexpected viewpoints. Collaboration offers those involved a chance to learn, pick up new skills and show off each other’s skills at their best. And in this spirit I have rounded up seven inspiring modern African design collaborations that have come together over the years:

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MitiMeth Turning Water Hyacinth Into Functional Handcrafted Products

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.

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Zyne Turning Traditional Babouches Into Modern Moroccan Footwear

Babouches are a Moroccan slipper style of footwear. In their traditional form, they can be found in abundance in souks across the country. A favourite of tourists, babouches have now made the transition from colourful travel mementos to high fashion having turned up on the international catwalks in recent years courtesy of local designers such as Zineb Britel and Laura Pujol founders of the luxury footwear brand, ZYNE who are tapping into their heritages to modernise and elevate the Moroccan footwear.  

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Reform Studio’s Eco-Friendly Fashion Accessories Made In Egypt

  Reform Studio is an Egyptian based furniture and product design studio that I first featured on Atelier Fifty Five a couple of years ago. The company founded by Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem focuses on sustainable design, using materials such as discarded plastic and cotton threads to create Plastex, their durable, eco-friendly material. The award-winning studio now introduces Torero a collection of eco-fashion satchels made out of the company’s signature fabric and crafted by the skillful hands of two craftsmen and two housewives. Torero is all about style with a purpose.  

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Traditional Nigerian Textiles Meet Contemporary African Design

Ethnik by T.O. is a stylish range of contemporary African design footwear and fashion accessories made with beautifully woven Aso Oke, a traditional Yoruba textile. The collection, launched in 2015, is the brainchild of photographer and designer Tunde Olowabi, who by tapping into his heritage is adding to the diverse creative voices shaping contemporary African design. [Main image credits: Ethnik by T.O. – Tunde Olowabi Studios]

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LONDRÉ TAN Fashion Accessories Made in Africa for the Modern Woman

  LONDRÉ TAN is a luxury South African brand of fashion accessories that caters to the modern woman. Based in Johannesburg the brand was launched in 2014 by Lilian Muhammed, a fashion industry entrepreneur. Style, exceptional craftsmanship and luxury epitomizes Londré Tan’s collections which include handbags, belts, and jewellery. Named after a major South African city, each design pays homage to the diversity, rich culture and beauty of the country.

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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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Hermès Collaborates with Ardmore Artisans for The La Marche Du Zambèze Scarf

The luxury French fashion house, Hermès recently launched La Marche du Zambeze, a stunning silk twill scarf that was the result of a collaboration with South African ceramic studio, Ardmore. Celebrating African art and creativity the scarf was designed by Ardmore’s artisans. La Marche du Zambeze is set in the great river lands of the Zambezi tracing its course from the savannah to the delta marshes and features a majestic elephant at its centre, symbolising family and power. Gathered around the elephant are the creatures of his kingdom, giraffe, zebra, leopard, and crocodile. The river’s flora is silhouetted all around […]

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Monaa Luxury African Inspired Shoes Made In Ghana

Nothing says summer more than a pair of comfortable, yet chic sandals. And, with the summer holidays having officially started in this part of the world, many a pair will have been tucked away into luggage bound for sun soaked destinations. And, whether or not you are going away for the holidays, every wardrobe needs a pair or two, or three… So just in time for summer, July has seen the launch of Monaa, a stylish collection of luxury African inspired shoes comprising leather sandals and slippers made in Ghana. [Main image credit: Princess Slipper in blue – Monaa]

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Modern African Design Doreen Mashika Capsule Collection for eBay Germany

Some weeks back I did a feature on Kenyan jewellery designer, Gladys Macharia’s collaboration with Urbanara, as one of three winners of the Kenya-based ‘African Designers for Tomorrow‘ award. Another winner of competition was Doreen Mashika, who today as part of the award sees the launch of her covetable modern African design in the form of a jewellery and accessories capsule collection, Doreen Mashika for eBay, Germany, which was produced in collaboration with the online platform. [Main image credit: Beaded Bracelet – Doreen Mashika for eBay Germany]

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Abury Ethical Luxury Where Old World Traditions Meet Cutting Edge Design

Abury is an ethical luxury fashion accessories brand whose ethos is one of combining old world traditions with cutting edge design to create a new style, one of timeless and authentic luxury. Abury is a response to mass production, inviting people to appreciate the beauty that is around them, to form emotional connections to the products they buy and to take the time to recognise the meaning of of true luxury that comes with tradition, time and care in production. Heritage, knowledge and wisdom are turned into timeless high quality products, that include bags, personal accessories and footwear for people […]

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Maki & Mpho Modern Luxury African Design Where Asia Meets Africa

With Father’s Day on the horizon, Sunday 21st June for those who need reminding, I thought it would be apt to introduce a brand that focuses its creative attentions on our menfolk. Maki & Mpho, is a US-based textile brand that ‘celebrates the African renaissance’, by working with African designers to develop modern sophisticated prints for menswear accessories. Defining modern luxury African design the collections include elegant ties, pocket squares and bow ties made from silk twill. [Main image credit: SEVEN – Self-tie Diamond Tip Double-sided Bow Tie – Maki & Mpho]

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