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Luxurious Tasselled Silk Masquerade Clutch Collection by Textile Designer Banke Kuku

Landing on Banke Kuku’s gorgeous website is like entering a tropical paradise. The vibrant colours, the patterns, the textures are just mesmerising. Honing in on her Masquerade Collection of tasselled clutch bags Banke has taken her brand’s signature silk prints and woven together strips of the fabrics to form the bags, which are then finished off with a playful complementary string of tassels.

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Omi Woods Jewellery Contemporary Heirlooms Honouring Africa and its Diaspora

I have recently been introduced to Omi Woods, an exquisite collection of jewellery that celebrates our connections to Africa and its diaspora. Founded by Ashley Alexis McFarlane Omi Woods pays tribute to her Jamaican-Maroon and Ashanti heritage. The company takes its name from ‘omi’ meaning ‘water’ in Yoruba and the ‘wood’ references Xaymaca’, the indigenous Taino word for Jamaica which means ‘land of wood and water’. 

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Designer Masks to Keep You Safe and Fashionable

To say it’s been an ‘interesting’ few months would be a gross understatement as life as we know it has been turned on its head. And oh how quickly we adapt. Now I don’t think twice now about grabbing a mask and a pair of gloves before heading out for essential reasons. With some countries starting to ease their imposed lockdown restrictions it has become increasingly clear we are not safe yet and that masks are going to be an essential everyday accessory for some months if not years to come.

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Kova’s Timeless Stylish Leather Accessories Made in Namibia

Taking its name from the Oshiwambo word ‘onkova’ meaning leather Kova is a premium brand of classically, stylish leather bags and accessories designed and made in Namibia. The business was founded in 2017 by Petrina Auino-Mwandingi, a Naturopathic doctor. Her interest in natural medicine led her toward embracing a holistic approach to healthcare. She runs her own health and wellness practice helping her clients to live as healthy as they can naturally. She started Kova as a way of tapping into her creative side and to show that affordable well-made products can be made locally without having to always look abroad. […]

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Anita Quansah Hand-Embellished Raffia Slippers

I just had to stop for a second to feast my eyes on these too cute for words creations. They tickle my shoe obsession! These fun and fabulous statement slippers are by Anita Quansah, a London-based accessories designer. I have shared Anita’s statement jewellery previously and these slip-on shoes are next level exquisiteness, that can be dressed up or down- think floaty maxi’s, jeans, shorts, and even tailored suits.

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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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MitiMeth Turning Water Hyacinth Into Functional Handcrafted Products

Water Hyacinth is a plant that takes root in waterways the world over, causing destruction to aquatic and plant eco-systems. For communities that rely on their waterways for food, livelihoods, and transportation water hyacinth blocks access to the water essential to their survival. In Nigeria, a local social enterprise, MitiMeth, is harvesting water hyacinth and turning it into functional handcrafted products, and empowering members of the local community.

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Zyne Turning Traditional Babouches Into Modern Moroccan Footwear

Babouches are a Moroccan slipper style of footwear. In their traditional form, they can be found in abundance in souks across the country. A favourite of tourists, babouches have now made the transition from colourful travel mementos to high fashion having turned up on the international catwalks in recent years courtesy of local designers such as Zineb Britel and Laura Pujol founders of the luxury footwear brand, ZYNE who are tapping into their heritages to modernise and elevate the Moroccan footwear.  

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Reform Studio’s Eco-Friendly Fashion Accessories Made In Egypt

  Reform Studio is an Egyptian based furniture and product design studio that I first featured on Atelier Fifty Five a couple of years ago. The company founded by Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem focuses on sustainable design, using materials such as discarded plastic and cotton threads to create Plastex, their durable, eco-friendly material. The award-winning studio now introduces Torero a collection of eco-fashion satchels made out of the company’s signature fabric and crafted by the skillful hands of two craftsmen and two housewives. Torero is all about style with a purpose.  

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Khiry Afrofuturistic Luxe Jewellery Inspired by the African Diaspora

Khiry is a US-based line of luxury jewellery inspired by the African diaspora. The brand was created in 2016 by Jameel Mohammed. A college student studying political science at the time Jameel started the company after being told that a true luxury brand could only come from Milan or Paris. So Jameel set out to prove this statement wrong. Having dabbled in accessory design and stints interning at fashion houses including Nicole Miller whilst in high school Jameel used these experiences to launch his label. Using Africa’s rich creative and cultural heritage as his starting point Jameel has translated stories […]

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Fashion: Ethnik by T.O. Weaves Aso Oke to Combine Tradition & Modernity

Ethink by T.O. [Nigeria] [Image credits: Ethnik by T.O. – Tunde Olowabi Studios] Ethnik by T.O. is a stylish range of footwear and fashion accessories made with beautifully woven Aso Oke, a traditional Yoruba textile. The collection, launched in 2015, is the brainchild of photographer and designer Tunde Olowabi, who by tapping into his heritage is adding to the diverse creative voices shaping contemporary African design

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