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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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IKEA’S Modern Rituals In Collaboration With African Designers

In a preview of its forthcoming collaboration with African designers IKEA introduces ÖVERALLT a limited edition collection of tableware, textiles, and seating inspired by the modern rituals across all cultures that punctuate everyday life, what we do and use to make us feel at home. The collection was developed by ten designers from seven African countries partnered with IKEA’s team of designers.

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Pino Nord’s Bold Afro Scandi Graphic Black and White Prints Made In Kenya

Bold graphic black and white prints with a distinctive Afro-Scandi aesthetic characterise the designs of Pino Nord, a design lifestyle company based in Nairobi, Kenya. Pino Nord draws on the minimalism of Scandinavian design, and fuses this with the vibrancy, boldness and artistic expression of daily life in Nairobi, and from this fusion comes a style that Pino Nord calls Tropical Minimalism.

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Kenyan Artist Evans Mbugua For Chaumet Tresors D’afrique Jewellery Collection

Trésors d’Afrique translates as Treasures from Africa, and is an ode to past and present, culture and modernity presented in the form of luxury jewellery pieces by the prestigious French jeweller and watchmaker Chaumet in collaboration with Kenyan artist, Evans Mbugua who is based in Paris. Trésors d’Afrique is third and final destination in the Mondes du Chaumet collection, a globe-trotting journey through jewels that has taken in the splendours of Russia, and Japan. Chaumet is inspired by the coming together of different cultures that celebrate and honour majestic femininity to create new ideas, imagined by their master jewellers who continually […]

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African Furniture Design At Salone del Mobile 2018

Salone del Mobile, the prestigious Italian furniture fair opens its doors today offering visitors the very best in international furniture design concepts. Salone del Mobile is also home to SaloneSatellite an event that spotlights promising young designers under 35 by giving them a platform to connect with manufacturers, buyers and talent scouts. Noted for launching the careers of designers such as Oki Sato of Nendo, this year’s SaloneSatellite theme is Africa/Latin America: Rising Design – Design Emergente and as such is presenting a group of designers representing both regions. Among those representing African design is Jomo Tariku, founder of Jomo […]

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Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair Presents The 2017 Well Made In Africa Exhibitors

  Earlier this year, I was honoured to have been appointed the guest curator for the prestigious Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair’s Well Made in Africa showcase. 2017 introduces a new, exquisite selection of Well Made in Africa exhibitors from the continent under the curatorship of Tapiwa Matsinde, author of Contemporary Design Africa. Tapiwa presents a selection that is anchored in heritage & modernity. This year Sanlam HmC will host the work of a dynamic group of designers who have been chosen for their innovative use of Africa’s diverse craft heritages to create modern sophisticated products for contemporary living. And with […]

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Mashirbirya Patterns Inspire Saba Studio’s Furniture Made On Lamu Island

  Centuries-old Mashirbirya patterns have inspired a contemporary collection of limited edition furniture made on Kenya’s, Lamu Island. Architect, Moran Munyuthe who lives and works in Lamu, designed the collection called The Mashirbirya Collection, which comprises a table and chair. Mashirbirya patterns are seen in Arabic-Bantu architecture, usually part of a wooden lattice screen that is used to shade the interior of buildings and decorate the exterior. Mashirbirya patterns are intricate, the style reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Lamu and how the culture of the Arab traders to Africa’s East coast where assimilated into the local Bantu culture.

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Ifeanyi Oganwu Furniture Design For Toghal African Inspired Textiles

  Dotted around the lounge at 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair was a collection of colourful, contemporary seating by product designer Ifeanyi Oganwu, African inspired textiles design brand Toghal and jewellery designer Artist Phoebe Boswell. Ifeanyi was approached by Dayo Forster, Toghal’s founder to create a seating structure on which to present their cylindrical bolster cushions.  

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Adele Dejak Launches Luxury Lifestyle Interior Accessories Collection

The Adele Dejak Lifestyle brand was launched in 2014 and brings the modern elegance and luxury Africa aesthetic of Adele Dejak jewellery designs to interior decor accessories and bespoke home products. The Adele Dejak Lifestyle collection includes stylish bowls, spoons, and candle holders all handcrafted from Ankole cow horn, which is sourced from Uganda and is a by-product of the beef industry.  

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Fashion: Sustainable Underwear

David Adjaye for Pact [Ghana/Kenya]     [Image source: Dezeen] More known for adding to a city skyline and working with more rigid materials, reknowned architect David Adjaye teamed up with US clothing manufacturer and retailer, PACT to design a collection of sustainable men’s and women’s underwear to benefit the Green Belt Movement. PACT’s partnership with the Green Belt Movement meant that 20 trees were planted for every pair sold during Earth Week, April 2010, as 100% of each sale was donated to the organisation. Following on from the Earth Week launch, 10% of the sale price for each pair is donated towards the initiative. […]

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Travel: Tribe, Kenya’s Luxury Boutique Hotel  

Tribe [Kenya] [Image source: kiwi collection] Wow… what a stunning luxury boutique hotel that celebrates hip, chic African style. A Condé Nast Traveller 2010 Hot List entrant in both the UK and US editions, the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi epitomises contemporary cool, bringing modern elegance and glamour to the city. Tribe’s ethos embraces taking hospitality back to its essence, by way of welcoming in the weary traveller and lavishing them with home comforts. Designed by Kenyan architect, Mehraz Ehsani, the Tribe Hotel is about wide-open spaces, attention to detail and design on every level; from walls adorned with art collected from all […]

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Accessories: Doreen Mashika Fashion Footwear Zanzibar

Doreen Mashika [Zanzibar] [Image credit: Doreen Mashika] Describing her style as ‘Afro Vintage’ influenced by a ‘glut of indigenous cultures from across the globe’, Doreen Mashika is a luxury accessories label located at the heart of Stown Town, Zanzibar. Coming to fashion by way of a financial career in Swiss Luxury Goods Fund Management – which served to introduce her to fashion designers and the commercial side of the fashion business – Doreen Mashika brought these experiences with her upon returning home to Zanzibar and setting up her eponymous label.  Although designing some fabulous jewellery and handbag ranges which can be viewed on her website, it […]

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Fashion: SUNO Style Fashion Made From Khanga Fabric

SUNO [Kenya] [Image credits: SUNO Spring Summer 2009] African flavour with a retro Americana twist is one way of describing the collections of SUNO, the brainchild of filmmaker and designer Max Osterweis who after spending over a decade collecting colourful vintage Kenyan kangas, decided to turn them into what has become a sought after fashion collection launched in 2008. Inspiration taken from the way painters like Gustav Klimt and Wassily Kandinsky used colour and shape can be seen influencing SUNO’s creative and colourful experimentations. What is great about SUNO’s designs is the way the clothing can be easily mixed and matched creating […]

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Accessories: Made Unique Ethical Jewellery Made in Africa

MU (Made Unique) [Kenya] [Image credits: Stone earrings, Jellyfish Pendant and Statement Choker – MADE] The launch of Kenyan-based ethical jewellery label MADE’s new MU collection introduces a vibrant range of limited edition jewellery pieces made in Africa at their Kenyan workshop. Still following MADE’s ethos of recycling locally found materials such as glass and brass this collection now includes 9ct gold to stunning effect. A significant step up from their much sought after existing collections, MU raises the bar on ethical luxury and is simply gorgeous. For those unfamiliar with the company, MADE is a jewellery label with an ethical message at its […]

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