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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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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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IKEA’S Modern Rituals In Collaboration With African Designers

In a preview of its forthcoming collaboration with African designers IKEA introduces ÖVERALLT a limited edition collection of tableware, textiles, and seating inspired by the modern rituals across all cultures that punctuate everyday life, what we do and use to make us feel at home. The collection was developed by ten designers from seven African countries partnered with IKEA’s team of designers.

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The Urbanative Telling Africa’s Stories Through Furniture Design

TheUrbanative by South African product and furniture designer Mpho Vackier is a collection of furniture and products that aim to tell the stories of African culture both past and present. TheUrbanative’s designs are characterised by bold geometric shapes and graphic patterns based on the patterns of diverse African cultures fused with midcentury European design. 

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African Furniture Design At Salone del Mobile 2018

  Salone del Mobile, the prestigious Italian furniture fair opens its doors today offering visitors the very best in international furniture design concepts. Salone del Mobile is also home to SaloneSatellite an event that spotlights promising young designers under 35 by giving them a platform to connect with manufacturers, buyers and talent scouts. Noted for launching the careers of designers such as Oki Sato of Nendo, this year’s SaloneSatellite theme is Africa/Latin America: Rising Design – Design Emergente and as such is presenting a group of designers representing both regions. Among those representing African design is Jomo Tariku, founder of […]

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Studio Lani

  Lani Adeoye is the founder of Studio Lani, an award-winning multi-disciplinary product design and interior architecture practice that creates furniture inspired by a modern Africa. Furniture design is inspired by Lani’s West African heritage is a strong feature of her furniture design aesthetic, which blurs the boundaries between design and art. Another characteristic is curved metal handcrafted in Nigeria. 

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IFI Congress and African Design and Culture Festival Nigeria

  Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling dynamic capital plays host to the African Culture and Design Festival (ACDF), a four-day cultural extravaganza that is part of a series of activities organised for the International Federation of Interior Designers and Architects (IFI) 28th Biennial Congress. The Congress prepares to welcome over 500 local and international delegates and features architect Sir David Adjaye as a keynote speaker, Kunlé Adeyemi and writer, culture critic, and educator, Carol Becker,

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Africa.Now – Exploring Africa’s Creative Community With Design Indaba

  Having spent the last seven years bringing you some of the names, designs, and services that have shaped the emergence and development of the creative industries across Africa one cannot help but be inspired by the energy surrounding what is happening; that feeling that anything is possible. Something that can at times be hard to articulate in a post when experiencing it in person can be so much more impactful. And this is the premise of Design Indaba’s Africa.Now initiative and video series, which brings you closer to the action through on-screen interviews with those who are an active […]

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Mozambican Artist Nelsa Guambe Merging Art and Sustainable Design

Nelsa Guambe is a self-taught artist who lives and works in Maputo, Mozambique. Primarily a painter Nelsa’s work moves beyond the canvas to incorporate product design, where working in collaboration with a local design studio, Piratas Do Pau her colourful and surreal images help to transform discarded water heaters collected from the city’s streets into distinctive functional products such as wine racks and lighting. As one of the designer-makers I had the pleasure of selecting for the IFA Pure Gold exhibition, which explores rubbish and its use in sustainable design to creating objects of value in design, I thought this would be a […]

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IFA Pure Gold Upcycled! Upgraded! Exhibition Exploring Sustainable Design

Greetings from the city of Hamburg in Germany where I am attending the press conference and opening of Pure Gold – Upcycled! Upgraded! a forward-thinking exhibition that explores rubbish, more specifically how found and waste materials are being used the world over to create objects of value, hence the title, Pure Gold. As one of the curators, I had the honour of selecting designers-makers to represent sub-Saharan Africa. [Image credit: H++, Chair and table set, 2011; Water hyacinth, metal, yarn, wood chair – Alafuro Sikoki-Coleman]

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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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Mashirbirya Patterns Inspire Saba Studio’s Furniture Made On Lamu Island

  Centuries-old Mashirbirya patterns have inspired a contemporary collection of limited edition furniture made on Kenya’s, Lamu Island. Architect, Moran Munyuthe who lives and works in Lamu, designed the collection called The Mashirbirya Collection, which comprises a table and chair. Mashirbirya patterns are seen in Arabic-Bantu architecture, usually part of a wooden lattice screen that is used to shade the interior of buildings and decorate the exterior. Mashirbirya patterns are intricate, the style reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Lamu and how the culture of the Arab traders to Africa’s East coast where assimilated into the local Bantu culture.

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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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Remembering Kossi Aguessy, A Visionary Designer and Artist

  It is with great shock and sadness that I learned about the death of the designer and artist Kossi Aguessy on 17th April 2017 on what was his 40th birthday. Having first discovered and featured his work on the website in 2011, I later had the privilege of interviewing him for a Design Indaba profile. The exchange was both fascinating and insightful as he shared his hopes and visions for future projects.

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