Businesses, schools, private residences, galleries, shops, hotels, workshops and studios opening up their spaces to hold exhibitions as part of the Dak’art OFF programme, brought the opportunity to meet with the artists and designers behind the works if you got your timing right. Opening the doors of her home was award-winning textile artist Aissa Dione Tissus, who was displaying the works of several artists in her elegant surroundings. Aissa was very welcoming and I was honoured to meet her; it was one of the many occasions I wished I spoke French, as there was so much I wanted to ask. Aissa is renowned for her high-end luxury African textiles collections that have attracted commissions from the likes of Hermès and Fendi.
[Image source: Aissa Dione Tissus Fabrics via Textiel Museum The Netherlands]
Of French/Senegalese heritage, Aissa grew up in France where she studied Fine Arts and started her career as a painter, moving to Senegal in her twenties to develop her art. It was in Senegal where Aissa began to create her innovative textiles; the result of offering to help a client, who wanted to buy one of her paintings, redecorate his office. Aissa did so sourcing local staff, materials and tools; and her fabrics were soon picked up by the local press, which led to a leading international designer who spotted them in a magazine placing an order, and subsequently others followed suit.
[Image source: Aissa Dione Tissus Fabrics via Design Africa]
Aissa’s colourful and beautifully woven textiles combine traditional techniques, such as Mandjaque weaving, with her own brand of style and creativity; reworking the colours, motifs and designs in richly dyed threads and materials like cotton and raffia to create products that have a contemporary classic design aesthetic. The fabrics are gorgeous, beautiful to touch with a smooth silky feel that is contrasted with the texture of the patterns. The fabrics created are also turned into personal and home décor items like bed linen, clothing, bags, table linen, cushions and throws.
Aissa is noted for her professionalism, seen through her products and the way her business is run. Producing and exporting her hand woven luxury African textiles, Aissa has been in the industry for over twenty years and employs over 100 staff in her factory located on the outskirts of Dakar in an area called Rufisque. Aissa insisted I visit her Atelier to see the machines and how everything was done but unfortunately my plans got thwarted just as I was heading out the city…Oh well next time I’m in Senegal! I was told, however that in the factory traditional know-how is combined with modern advancements, Aissa has developed her own looms, adapted from those used for traditional weaving to produce her luxury African textiles collections, and some with the help of Dakar Technology. Modern looms are also used.
[Image source: Aissa Dione Tissus Fabrics via West Africa Trade Hub]
Supportive of up-and-coming artists Aissa used to have a gallery in the city centre, and is now looking to turn her home into a gallery space. In addition to fabrics, Aissa also produces beautifully crafted furniture like dining room tables and sofas covered with her luxury African textiles.
atelier | 55 is an inspirational design and lifestyle resource, that shines the spotlight on contemporary design from and inspired by Africa.
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