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.
All these designers are of African heritage. And either living and working on the continent or currently based outside of it, all are united in a commitment to making their products in Africa, working alongside highly skilled craftsmen and women in their local communities in a concerted effort to help preserve and modernise traditional crafts, create new ones and develop Africa’s burgeoning design industries.
DÅ by Afrominima, Olubunmi Adeyemi
Kitchen Utensils , Nigeria
The DÅ brand by Afrominima is an urban design and culture brand that takes inspiration from everyday African living to design homeware and accessories that fuse cultural heritage with modern minimalist aesthetics. Their current collections see the traditional cooking utensils used in African kitchens streamlined for modern living without losing their basic functionality. Products are handcrafted in Nigeria.
Aissa Dione Tissus
Woven Textiles, Senegal
The doyenne of West African textile weaving, Aissa Dione is an artist and designer who has made it her mission to revive ancient Mandijak weaving traditions. Aissa Dione has adapted the traditional techniques to suit modern standards and create her signature luxurious textiles that have been commissioned by the likes of Hermès and Christian Liaigre, and can also be seen in elegant spaces like the Saxon hotel in Johannesburg. Products are handwoven in Senegal.
Dounia Home, Dounia Tamri-Loeper
Lighting + Furniture, Morocco
Dounia Home was founded on a mission to celebrate and preserve Morocco’s craft heritages. The company’s lighting, furniture and accessories collections are produced using a combination of traditional craft techniques with modern innovation. Working with local artisans each piece is designed to tell the story of the artist who created it. Products are handcrafted in Morocco.
Myriam Mourabit’s intricately detailed ceramics are inspired by her country’s rich ceramic heritage. Mourabit’s work breathes new life into this ancient heritage; her practice intersecting that of the designer and the artisan as she experiments on combining traditional techniques with innovative processes such as adding gold and silver leaf gilding, which is painstakingly handpainted on to the vessels. Products are handcrafted in Morocco.
Saba Furniture Company, Moran Munyuthe
Furniture, Lamu Island, Kenya
Moran Munyuthe is an architect and designer who has collaborated with Swahili carpenters on Lamu Island to design The Mashirbirya Collection, a chair and side table that are inspired by the centuries-old Mashirbirya patterns seen in Arabic-Bantu architecture. Producing his furniture designs under the brand Saba Studio, Munyuthe’s aim is to help preserve an ancient tradition of wood-carving skills by giving the craft a place in modern society. Products are handcarved and crafted in Lamu.
Jewellery and Fashion Accessories, Kenya
Adèle Dejak is all about bold, stylish jewellery, and fashion accessories that are inspired by African tribes, textiles, culture, and traditions, and produced by local artisans in Kenya and the East African region. Adèle Dejak is also pioneering ethical luxury through the use of recycling discarded materials such as metal; and bone, horn and animal hide, which are sourced as a by-product of the farming industry. Products are handcrafted in Kenya
Monaa, Nana + Afua Dabanka
Monaa is luxury footwear label, that pays homage to the regal Ashanti heritage of founders Nana and Afua Dabanka, sisters born in Germany and residing in the US and UK respectively. The siblings were inspired by the handmade leather Ohenema slippers worn by their father, and their mother’s intricately woven silk Kente Cloth ensembles. Proudly made in Ghana, Monaa is steeped in tradition combining local craftsmanship and design with a global perspective. Products are handcrafted in Ghana.
Zaaf, Abai Schulze
Leather Bags, Ethiopia
Zaaf is a luxury brand of premium leather goods and accessories for men and women, handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia. Paying homage to Ethiopia’s textile weaving heritage that dates back to the days of the Queen of Sheba, Zaaf’s collections also incorporate panels of woven textiles made using traditional techniques. The company was founded by Abai Schulze who was adopted and grew up in the US, but now lives and works in Ethiopia the country of her birth. Products are handcrafted in Ethiopia.
Tongoro, Sarah Diouf
Fashion and accessories, Senegal
Tongoro is a 100% Made In Africa fashion label that offers affordability without compromising on style and quality. Founded by Sarah Diouf, each collection is limited edition and is produced by a team of skilled tailors in Senegal, and uses locally sourced materials. Through Tongoro Sarah’s mission is to contribute to the development of the retail production in Western Africa.
[Image credits: The images shown belong to Adele Dejak, Afrominima, Aissa Dione Tissus, Dounia Home, Myriam Mourabit, Saba Furniture Company, Monaa, Zaaf, Tongoro. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]