Behind the Name And Meaning of Atelier Fifty Five

Modern African Design Atelier Fifty Five by Tapiwa Matsinde

Today marks 8 years of blogging, four of those as Atelier Fifty-Five. Originally called African Daydreams when I changed the name I was asked why the name Atelier Fifty Five, in other words, what did it mean, what was its relevance. So here goes:

Atelier Fifty Five started out as African Daydreams, a place for me to document the interesting things I was discovering with regards to the design and creativity emerging from Africa, creating a resource for when I needed information and inspiration without having to spend hours searching for it each time. After a few years of blogging it became apparent that what I was doing was not a daydream, but something much more substantial both in terms of a world-class design industry that I was witnessing emerging from the continent and those in the diaspora, and that my efforts in documenting what I could was starting to offer up potential career options for me.

This awareness marked a shift of going from a hobby to something professional and I felt a rebrand was necessary to reflect this evolution. Considering several names, I settled on Atelier Fifty Five because of what the words symbolised. The name Atelier Fifty Five also reflects the leap of faith I took in following an uncharted path into turning my interests into a real career.

Atelier is fairly straight-forward, French for the studio it refers to the designer’s studio or workshop. For me, it is the place where the products I share with you begin. It is where the magic happens;

  • where ideas come to life;
  • where the beauty and refinement in craftsmanship is celebrated as mass-production gives way to the touch of human hands;
  • where pieces are infused with heart and soul that is woven deep within add character and uniqueness; and
  • where new is created out of old as ingenuity keeps tradition and heritage alive.

Fifty Five, on the other hand, is where the leap of faith comes in because it refers to the number of recognised sovereign states on the African continent, (and yes, you read that right! that is not a typo!). Fifty-five states, which together represent a creatively rich, thriving continent in all its diversity. You will notice I don’t use the word ‘countries’. At the time when I was looking at possible names my research led me to the fact that whilst both the African Union (AU) and the UN recognised fifty-five states, there was a bit of controversy when it came to the actual members of the AU. Morocco had pulled out of the membership some 32 years prior due to the admittance and recognition of Western Sahara as a state, and therefore the reason why the AU -until earlier this year that is- highlighted fifty-four. So my choosing to go with fifty-five was going with what the facts were telling me and I suppose was my way of trusting in myself that the path I chose would work out. And on that note, Morocco has since rejoined the AU officially bringing the number to fifty-five.

And as Atelier Fifty Five turns eight, it is entering a new chapter as I renew my commitment to supporting the development of the African design industry and helping those I work with and write about to fulfill their potential for creating world-class brands. And as I do so I bring front and centre the values of true luxury. True luxury being a type of luxury that is no longer defined solely by hefty price tags, but rather by the ‘money can’t buy’ attributes of time, experiences and emotional connections.

I invite you to join and continue the journey with me.


– Tapiwa Matsinde


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[Image credits: The images shown belong to Tapiwa Matsinde. If downloaded and used elsewhere please credit accordingly.]

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