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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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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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FatyLy Ceramics Bringing to Life The Stories of Africa’s rich cultural and artistic heritage

Fatimata ‘Faty’ Ly is a Senegalese artist who uses ceramics as her canvas, the blank surfaces enabling her to bring to life the stories of Africa’s rich cultural and artistic heritage. A graduate of London’s prestigious Central St Martin’s Faty is based in Dakar, Senegal where she designs her eponymous collections for production in Limoges, France, an area famed for its production of hard-paste porcelain.

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Ranti Bam’s Organic And Sculptural Collage Ceramics

Freeform, organic, and sculptural are just some of the words that come to mind when viewing the work of ceramicist Ranti Bamgbala aka Ranti Bam, who is inspired by a love of words and metaphor, Eastern philosophy, etymology, and clay. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, and raised in London Ranti set up her studio practice in 2015 after graduating from the renowned City Lit Ceramics degree course.

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Decor: Myriam Mourabit Contemporary Moroccan Ceramics

Myriam Mourabit [Morocco] [Image credit: Tagine Ceramics – Myriam Mourabit] Award-winning Moroccan ceramicist Myriam Mourabit creates exquisite ceramic products inspired by Morocco’s rich ceramic heritage. The designer who is based in Rabat, Morocco trained in Paris at the Duperré School of Applied Arts and the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs. She founded her company in 1998 and from her studio skillfully produces collections that include: bowls, vases, tableware, furniture, and interior fittings.

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Ceramics: Fine Dining, Artfully Designed

Yinka Shonibare [Nigeria] [Image credit: Yinka Shonibare for Tate, Small Plate – Tate] British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE has designed an exclusive range of highly collectable fine bone china dinnerware for Tate, one of the UK’s premier art institutions. The limited-edition collection sees a distinctively patterned tea set and dinner plates inspired by, the Tate’s archives, research Yinka carries out at the institution, as well influences from his own work. The illustrations combine historical text and imagery, which is incorporated into several different collage patterns, based on Yinka’s intricate collage drawings. The patterns are created using an array of media, including the Dutch Wax fabrics Yinka […]

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Ceramics: Ugandan Ceramics Pottery School

Ugandan Ceramics [Uganda]    [Image credits: Ugandan Ceramics Pottery School] Closely aligned with Vision for Africa International, and Austrian based Christian organisation; Ugandan Ceramics is a pottery school based near Kampala, Uganda. Offering training in the various methods of ceramics production, the students who attend the school are given the opportunity to study with artists from Uganda and Europe, amongst them, are former students who have gone on to become instructors themselves. 

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Ceramics: Ardmore Modern Day Collectibles

Ardmore [South Africa] Ardmore is an award-winning ceramics studio creating products that are distinctive, colourful, whimsical, and full of character. Ardmore’s ceramics call to mind the tradition of detailed porcelain and pottery artworks seen throughout the ages, particularly in Chinese and Japanese culture, and in recognition of the studio’s high level of creativity and craftsmanship have been labelled ‘modern-day collectibles’ by Christie’s, one of the world’s most prestigious fine art auction houses. Located in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, Ardmore was founded over twenty-five years ago by fine artist, Fée Halsted; who began mentoring Bonnie Ntshalintshali and five years after they started were […]

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Ceramics: Kpando Contemporary Pottery

Kpando Pottery [Ghana] [Image credit: Kpando Pottery] Organic shapes exhibiting protruding knobbly bumps and spiky thorn-like shapes remind me of gourds, the hard bulbous shells of fruit, and the tall slender forms of cacti. Skilfully moulded by hand, without the aid of a potter’s wheel these forms are part of a range of decorative, and functional interior pottery products from Kpando Pottery, a business based in Ghana that takes its name from the Volta Region of Ghana, an area known for its skilled craftsmanship and distinctive pottery production. Kpando Pottery was founded by Joseph Nii Noi Dowuona, who has been working with […]

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Art: Bruno Sserunkuuma Ceramics

Bruno Sserunkuuma [Uganda] [Image credit: Bruno Sserunkuuma, Ceramic Vessel – Afro Art] Rather like the illustrations from a storybook, the distinctive imagery adorning Ugandan ceramicist, Bruno Sserunkuuma’s work depicts a social and cultural commentary of Ugandan life in the form of stylised figures and shapes, enhanced with elaborate patterns.  The clay surface is Bruno canvas on which he experiments with industrial oxides in a range of colours. Drawing on the culturally rich environment he lives in, the pottery forms are based on traditional Ugandan vessels, and are made using locally available materials such as Ngombe clay. Mixing the old with new, Bruno’s technique is […]

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Ceramics: Oprah Store Storm in a Teacup Bowls

Storm in a Teacup [South Africa]   You can never have enough bowls, and they can look so good as a design feature displayed on cabinet shelves or along counters. My sister recently showed me a gorgeous image of some stacked brightly coloured, patterned bowls; and whenever I walk into a place like Anthropologie I can’t help but be drawn to the sections with stacks of bowls piled high upon the shelves radiating pattern, colour, and texture. I think small bowls are my latest interiors crush… One of my searches led me to Storm in a Teacup who have such pretty ones; […]

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Ceramics: The Nala Potting Dynasty

The Nala Family [South Africa] [Image sources: Traditional Zulu Pot, Nesta Nala via Eugene Hon] In the 1980’s Yvonne Chaka Chaka was singing about brewing African beer in the timeless infectious hit Umqombothi, a song that was and still is a regular feature at weddings and parties across Southern Africa and beyond. I remember the accompanying video, one of celebration and saw women carrying their brews in a traditional clay pot. Whether expertly balanced atop the head having been filled with water from the river, or as a vessel fermenting the ‘African Beer’, the bulbous clay pot is an enduring symbol of cultural tradition […]

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Decor: Beldi Moroccan Handpainted Ceramics

Beldi [Morocco]   I love pretty ceramics; so ideal for adding quick, interchangeable bursts of pattern and colour throughout the home and whilst browsing the beautifully stylish blog, AphroChic I came across a posting featuring a new online store Beldi, which is introducing customers to the authentic, Moroccan way of living. Visiting the website I spotted these gorgeously patterned plates and bowls, hand-painted and hand-glazed by artisans in Safi, a place renowned for its skillful pottery creations. The spirals on the ‘Spiral Safi bowls’ are based on the ancient Berber symbol for eternity, said to be a common symbol throughout Morocco. The intricate patterns, often […]

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Art: Sculptor Lawson Oyekan at One Canada Square Canary Wharf

Lawson Oyekan [Nigeria] [Image credit: Lawson Oyekan, Manifestation of Dance: 1996 – Los Angeles County Museum of Art] Until Friday 11 November 2001, the lobby of One Canada Square in Canary Wharf London plays host to the ceramic creations of sculptor Lawson Oyekan. Regular visitors to Canary Wharf may already be familiar with Lawson’s work, the artist has had four ceramic sculptures on permanent display as part of Canary Wharf’s permanent art collection for a while now, and this current exhibition sees some of his more recent works going on display alongside them in a showcase of the artist’s talent and […]

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Ceramics: Message Mugs by Love Milo

Love Milo [South Africa] [Image credits: Message Mug – Love Milo] What a cute and novel idea! Your favourite hot drink delivered with a heartwarming message… well at least that’s what I think Love Milo had in mind when they created this wonderfully quirky ceramic message mug. Featuring a notebook design, the smooth surface allows you to write messages directly on to it using the pen provided. Love Milo was created by Nicki Ellis, a South African photographer and film colourist whose original photographs inspired by nature are captured in a distinctive silhouette style and then depicted across a contemporary range of […]

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Design: Stoned Cherrie Ceramics

Stoned Cherrie Ceramics [South Africa] I love a good cup of tea, and for me any time is teatime! So was rather taken with some quirky teapots and teacups courtesy of Stoned Cherrie. The renowned South African brand, whom I featured previously, is branching into the homeware sector, launching a range of hand-painted ceramics that embody the Stoned Cherrie Afro-chic spirit. After a decade of producing some of African fashion’s most iconic collections Stoned Cherrie’s founder, Nkhensani Nkosi is ready to expand the company beyond fashion borders reaching further into the consumer lifestyle sector and having already taken first steps with […]

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