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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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Traditional African Art Referenced In David Adjaye Architectural Designs

Marrying the old with the new British/Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye brings the beauty and elegance of traditional African art pieces to several of his contemporary architecture designs. Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian diplomat parents Adjaye grew up in several places including Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon before the family moved to the UK where he resides. Adjaye founded his architectural practice Adjaye Associates in London and has offices in Ghana and New York. Adjaye also cites a growing interest in Africa, arising from a need to contribute in some way to the development of the continent that began with a decade […]

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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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Adinkra Symbols Writing Traditions Connecting the Verbal and Visual

Adinkra symbols are an ancient Asante writing system, identified by the decorative, graphic forms making up each symbol. There are said to be over 100 Adinkra symbols in existence, each based on wise teachings, proverbs and folk stories that have been handed down through the generations and added to over time. Adinkra symbols served to express the connection between the verbal and the visual in Akan culture. Once sacred, their origins are steeped in history with legend speaking of two warring Kings involving the Golden Stool.

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Pamper Your Skin With 54 Thrones Botanical Skincare Made In Africa

More and more people are shunning chemically formulated on the shelf beauty products in favour of natural, holistic handcrafted formulations, and the beauty industry has witnessed a rise in brands around the world catering to this need by tapping into their own homegrown beauty rituals and bringing them to global attention. And Africa is no exception. Natural skin care ingredients such as cocoa butter and shea that have been used by African women for centuries are being recognised for their benefits, but we are only just scratching the surface. Fruit of the African soil, ingredients such as baobab, marula, and […]

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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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AAKS x UNHCR Weaving For Change

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.

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Beazley Designs Of The Year 2017

  Sir David Adjaye has been announced as the overall winner of Beazley Design of the Year 2017, for the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington designed in collaboration with The Freelon Group, Davis Brody Bond, and SmithGroupJJR. Now in its tenth year Beazley Designs of the Year is an annual award and exhibition of the very best in international design held by The Design Museum, the world’s leading museum devoted to contemporary design and architecture; and sponsored by specialty insurers Beazley. 

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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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YSWARA Brings Their Elegant Tearoom Experience To Ghana

  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.  

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Africa By Design Inaugural Exhibition Launches In Ghana

  Exhibitions focusing on design from Africa continue to abound, with more countries outside the continent holding dedicated showcases. Whilst this is great to see, it is also important that the African continent also hold its own showcases to highlight the growing value of design to local audiences. One such initiative is Africa by Design in Ghana, which launched its inaugural self-titled exhibition presenting the work of 22 emerging and established African designers representing 6 countries from sub-Saharan Africa – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal.   [Main Image credit: Master Kente and Ewe Weaver, Bob Gandy – […]

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LIHA Beauty Inspired By West African Skin Care Traditions

  We have gone through a cold snap of late, the icy winter winds contrasted with the drying effects of central heating leaving skin feeling skin a bit distressed. Whether you are in a cold or hot climate, it is important to protect your skin as each season comes with its own set of challenges that can be harmful to exposed skin if you go not care for it properly. And with more of us shunning chemical laden products in favour of natural skin care ones it can be tricky to find natural products that are what they say they […]

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Mimi Plange For Roche Bobois Classic West African Design Inspiration

  Fashion designer Mimi Plange has collaborated with high-end French furniture design company Roche Bobois on a limited edition furniture collection upholstered in Mimi Plange textile designs that references her West African design cultural and heritage. The Roche Bobois collection is centred around one of the furniture house’s iconic furniture pieces, the modular Mah Jong Sofa that was designed in 1971 by German artist Hans Hopfer, and has since been dressed by some of the biggest names in fashion from the late Sonia Rykiel to Jean-Paul Gaultier. The collaboration features several Mimi Plange textile designs each incorporating a different theme from […]

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Sankofa Center Wax Cloth Inspiration

The Sankofa Center is a not-for-profit arts-based organisation in Ghana that uses traditional African dance and music to promote an understanding of HIV/AIDS within the communities in which it works. To help support the Center’s programmes and services, a boutique was established that utilises the skills of a cooperative specifically set up the Center to produce a range of products including; clothing, personal and household accessories; the proceeds of which are invested back into the organisation. It was through one of their current stockists, VivaTerra, that I came across the Sankofa Center’s range of duvet sets and shower curtain products, created from […]

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