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Raya’s Bold Fun Statement Gemstone Jewellery

While directing the home of Eva Sonaike for a magazine photoshoot the textile designer wore some fabulous statement earrings by Raya, a Nigerian contemporary jewellery brand. Drawn to the colours and style I headed online to find out more. Raya was founded in 2014 by fashion manufacturing graduate Ivie Omenai who spotted a gap for affordable high-quality jewellery made in Nigeria. 

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Traditional and Artisanal African Metalwork Give Rokus Jewellery a Vintage Vibe

While visiting Niger, Ivorian/French jewellery designer Marie-Paule Tano came across some antique bronze Akan beads and amethyst gemstones at a local market, that so captivated her ideas began to fly and she found herself filling a sketchbook with design after design. Already a lover of accessories Marie-Paule’s passion for creating jewellery was ignited and her fine jewellery brand Rokus was the result. Marie-Paule’s use of traditional and artisanal African metalwork give Rokus jewellery a vintage vibe.

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The Seductive, Mystical Jewellery Designs by La Falaise Dion, The Queen of Cowries

Seductive and mystical are two words that immediately come to mind when you see the elaborate jewellery and body adornment pieces by Ivorian artist and designer La Falaise Dion. Based in Abidjan La Falaise Dion uses her work to reconnect with her ancestral power by embracing the cowrie shell which has been used by the Dan people of Western Cote d’Ivoire as a means of communication with the spirit world. In doing so she is challenging the stigmas that surround it. The dramatic appearance of her Lagbaja, headpiece in Beyonce’s Spirit video has taken her brand to new heights, giving […]

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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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Vibrant West African Textile Inspired Umbrellas

Living in a country where it tends to rain a lot, having an umbrella to hand is essential. On dreary wet days more often than not people are huddled under canopies of dull coloured ones. Spotting a brightly coloured or patterned one can’t help but lift the spirits. When it comes to my umbrella choices I tend to shun the default plain black or grey coloured ones opting for something that is attention grabbing bright in an attempt to boost my spirits and hopefully those around me, and the ID Peters collection is right up my street. Banishing boring is […]

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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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