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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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AAKS x UNHCR Weaving For Change

Luxury artisanal accessory brand AAKS has launched a stunning home decor collection inspired by the theme Weaving for Change. The collection comprises five distinctive handcrafted lamps and light pendants, each created in partnership with women artisans from the Tuareg community in Northern Mali who are living as refugees in Burkina Faso. In working with this Tuareg community AAKS are helping to celebrate and preserve the community’s cultural identity and their time-honoured basket weaving traditions, a philosophy that has defined AAKS’s work with local communities in Ghana.

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Africa By Design Inaugural Exhibition Launches In Ghana

  Exhibitions focusing on design from Africa continue to abound, with more countries outside the continent holding dedicated showcases. Whilst this is great to see, it is also important that the African continent also hold its own showcases to highlight the growing value of design to local audiences. One such initiative is Africa by Design in Ghana, which launched its inaugural self-titled exhibition presenting the work of 22 emerging and established African designers representing 6 countries from sub-Saharan Africa – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal.   [Main Image credit: Master Kente and Ewe Weaver, Bob Gandy – […]

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Exhibition Honouring Legendary Malian Photographer, Malick Sidibé

The first UK solo exhibition honouring the work of the legendary Malian photographer, Malick Sidibé is currently showing at Somerset House in London. Often affectionately referred to as ‘the eye of Bamako’ Sidibé was one of Africa’s and indeed the world’s foremost photographers of the 20th Century, renowned for his iconic black and white images of ’60s and ’70s Mali that captured a youthful generation reveling in the freedom, confidence, and hope of independence. Images through which Sidibé created a valuable archive of modern Mali. Malick Sidibe’s death aged 80, in April this year marked the end of a life privileged to capture […]

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Art: Malian Artist Abdoulaye Konate’s Textile Installations

Abdoulaye Konaté [Mali] [Image credit: Abdoulaye Konaté – Detail Couple H, 2014. Mixed media – wood, metal, fabric. 250 x 170 cm (98⅜ x 66⅞ in) Courtesy of the Artist and Blain|Southern Photographer: Christian Gläser, 2015 via widewalls] Abdoulaye Konaté is an award-winning Malian artist who produces evocative textile installations. Inspired by colour, which he sees as a potent conveyor of meaning, Abdoulaye’s vividly hued textiles are created using sewing and appliqué techniques to create pieces that range from strips of fabric in graduating shades through to thought-provoking imagery.

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Design: Mali Chic Boutique and Workshop

Mali Chic [Mali] [Image credit: Embroidered Bench – Mali Chic] Perfect perched in a hallway or at the end of a bed, when I first saw the image of this embroidered bench I thought it had beaded detailing across seat area, such is the effect of the textured pattern from afar. Beautifully and skillfully woven, the textile covering is made from cotton upholstered onto a wooden bench frame handmade by the artisans of Mali Chic, a boutique and workshop based in Bamako, Mali. Mali Chic works with a network of over 195 local artisans; to produce a diverse range of traditional and […]

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Textiles: Aboubakar Fofana Malian artist and Indigo Dye Master

Akoubakar Fofana [Mali] [Image credit: Aboubakar Fofana – Amaridian] When I lived in Harare, Dendera Gallery in the city centre was a favourite haunt of mine. Close to the studio I worked in, I would spend many a lunch-time browsing and occasionally buying from the fascinating collection of art sourced across the African continent. I fell in love with the beautifully dyed authentic Indigo fabrics, and to this day kick myself for having not bought one… I’m not sure why I didn’t as I kept saying I would, I guess I got caught up in my move to the UK. […]

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Jewellery: Tamacali Inspired by Ancient African Adornment Traditions

Tamacali [Mali] [Image credit: Tamacali] Tamacali is a creative enterprise that draws on the ancient jewellery traditions of Malian Dogon, Tuareg and Togolese peoples. Seeking to bring together the talented artisans from these tribes Tamacali was founded in 2005 by Tetou Gologo, a Malian contemporary artist and the enterprise produces some amazing jewellery pieces that have a fresh modern feel without losing the heritage of the past. With the desire to develop a great Malian company owned by a woman, Tetou herself draws inspiration from the sights, sounds, smells and colours of a vibrant energetic Mali and says her designs reflect […]

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Travel: La Maison Rouge in Mopti

La Maison Rouge [Mali] [Image source: The Great Mosque, Mali – the GreenProphet] The BBC recently did an 8 part series entitled Human Planet, exploring man’s relationship with nature in the world today. Beautifully shot, the series looked at diverse environments such as: cities, rainforests and mountains. Unfortunately, I caught it near the end of its run, but managed to see the episode featuring deserts. This episode looked in part at the annual re-plastering of the Great Mosque in Djenne, Mali – a day-long festival involving the community. Re-plastering annually is necessary as heavy seasonal rains can ‘melt’ the fragile structures. The […]

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Textiles: Age-old Weaving Tradition Meets Innovation

Yéleen Design [Mali]         [Image credits: Yéleen Design] Age-old traditional hand weaving techniques unite with innovative materials to produce a beautiful array of interior and exterior textiles courtesy of Yéleen Design. Formed in 2003 and located in Bamako, Mali; Yéleen Design is the creation of respected designer Aida Duplessis. Aida experiments with weaving organic cotton with natural fibers such as vetiver, flax, hemp; and even seaweed and nettle to produce clean simple lines that add to the aesthetic appeal. Traditional weavers work to reproduce the designs across carpets, cushions, rugs and throws; in a range of sublte and rather soothing […]

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Beauty: L’Artisan Parfumeur inspired by Timbuktu

L’Artisan Parfumeur – Timbuktu [Africa Inspired] [Image credit: L’Artisan Parfumeur] In a collection inspired by travels and capturing the sweetest, familiar scents found across the globe; Timbuktu is the second fragrance of master parfumeur, Betrand Duchaufour’s L’Artisan Parfumeur travel collection. With a passion for capturing elusive scents that invoke a sense of place, Betrand has spent time travelling the world. In West Africa, Betrand was inspired by the rich scents found and the traditional art of Wusulan, the Malian art of making perfume, which captured his imagination. Wusulan is an inherited ancient art, one that has been handed down through the generations from mother to daughter […]

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Design: Cheick Diallo’s Innovative African Furniture Designs

Diallo Design [Mali] [Image credits: Diallo Design] Cheick Diallo the innovative furniture designer behind Diallo Design studied Architecture in France and whilst there discovered his love for furniture design. One of Africa’s leading furniture and product designers Diallo aims to bring a cosmopolitan view to Africa’s design by creating a bridge between ancient wisdom and modern sensuality.  

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