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Africa’s Basket Weavers Telling Stories Through Basketry

Basketry is a skill that has been practiced up and down the continent for centuries with examples from the past coveted by collectors around the world. Today Africa’s basket weavers are redefining the art form employing ingenious methods to create modern functional home decor products. But whilst these baskets may appear to be merely functional or decorative products, taking the time to look beyond the aesthetics reveals the layers of stories woven into the strands; as basketry -a skill traditionally practiced by women- carries within it the stories of livelihoods, of hopes, dreams, achievements, and sacrifices. Highlighting just how powerfully […]

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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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String Pendant Lamps Inspired by Traditional African Jewellery

Jewellery is one of my great loves, and was the main reason I started this blog. I wanted to use the space as a place to store my finds. So I couldn’t help but be instinctively drawn to a collection of string pendant lamps by South African product designer Candice Lawrence. Inspired by the beaded layers of traditional African jewellery, the African Woven Necklace Lamp Shade features three interconnected circular hoops each punctuated with colourful bands of hand wrapped thread.

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Pino Nord’s Bold Afro Scandi Graphic Black and White Prints Made In Kenya

Bold graphic black and white prints with a distinctive Afro-Scandi aesthetic characterise the designs of Pino Nord, a design lifestyle company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Pino Nord draws on the minimalism of Scandinavian design, and fuses this with the vibrancy, boldness and artistic expression of daily life in Nairobi, and from this fusion comes a style that Pino Nord calls Tropical Minimalism.

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The Baba Tree Basket Company

Bolgatanga in Ghana’s Upper East Region is synonymous with basket weaving, and the distinctive round-bellied Bolga Market basket with its sturdy handles. Building on the region’s basket weaving heritage local business The Baba Tree Basket Company is producing some stunning gravity-defying basket designs, woven from locally sourced natural materials and dyed in vibrant colours.

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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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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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Le BHV Marais Paris Celebrates South African Art and Design

  Paris is having a love affair with all things contemporary Africa design, fashion, culture, and lifestyle. First is was Africa as the guest of honour at the Paris Art Fair held in March/April, then Africa Now at the Galeries Lafayette shopping destination, and now the iconic department store Le BHV Marais in the heart of the historic and trendy Marais district, which dedicates almost two months to celebrating contemporary South African art and design and culture.  

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Olivia Knox Accessories Inspired by The Beauty of Ankole Horn

  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.  

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Mhondoro Game Lodge Spotlights African Design

  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.  

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YSWARA Unveils A Tranquil Tearoom To Savour Precious African Teas

  There is nothing I love more than a good cup of tea, the stronger the better. Anytime is teatime as far as I am concerned, so you can only imagine what I think about those who take their tea as seriously as I do. Like YSWARA for instance, the luxury tea brand championing made in Africa, who are reviving the ceremony of ancient African tea drinking rituals with its offering of specially blended teas and accompanying accessories. And now you can immerse yourself fully in the YSWARA brand experience with the launch of their flagship tearoom and store in […]

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100% Design South Africa Chic African Interior Design Inspiration

August heralds the start of the global design exhibition season, which runs for several months. In Johannesburg, 100% Design South Africa, billed as the go-to interior design show for all things African design will run from the 5th-9th August. Now in its third year 100% Design South Africa will channel continental African cool with its abundance of contemporary ‘Chic Afrique’ – African interior design inspiration content.

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The Aga Concept African Inspired Cooking Utensils And Accessories

The newsletter of textile designer Eva Sonaike introduced me to a stylish range of African inspired cooking utensils by The Aga Concept, a design and lifestyle brand that is inspired by culture and everyday living in Africa. For a lot of Zimbabweans living abroad, and most likely for a lot of Africans in general, cooking traditional food is simply not the authentic experience we crave without the traditional utensils from home, usually brought back on every trip, because buying and using that wooden spoon or pestle and mortar from your local store is somehow just not the same. Our traditional […]

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Interior Designer Ghislaine Vinas Designs ShweShwe Wallpaper For Flavor Paper

ShweShwe is an awarding winning wallpaper designed by interior designer Ghislaine Viñas for Flavor Paper. Born in the Netherlands, raised in South Africa and now living in New York Ghislaine turned the popular African print textile from her childhood into a stylish interior accessory by translating the distinctive intricate often dotted geometric patterns that characterise ShweShwe into a bold exaggerated print wallpaper collection. ShweShwe is available in four colourways, each named after South African wildlife. ShweShwe wallpaper is digitally printed and available on a number of materials for residential and commercial use that range from eco-friendly to vinyl.  

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