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Christmas Wishes

It’s been a year, right? One we will never forget. 2020 has brought with it extreme ups and downs as we were forced to navigate a new reality. Looking back on the things that have happened in 2020 has been a milestone year for atelier 55 in more ways than one. I have drawn a lot from your support and in giving thanks for the good I look forward to building on them in the coming year. I am tired, and am taking a break for a few weeks. Thank you for letting me into your inbox and I look […]

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What Having A Dedicated Startup Act Means For Africa’s Creative Entrepreneurs

When I heard of the move by several African countries to adopt an official Startup Act my first thought was it’s about time. Having spent over 10 years promoting the work of and supporting African designers and the African design industry the one thing I hear a lot of in my conversations with designers and other industry professionals is a wish that local governments do more to support startups and entrepreneurs.

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World-Class Design Made In Africa

An ever-increasing list of projects, collaborations, and exhibitions are bringing world-class design made in Africa to the centre-stage of the global design industry. Long overlooked for either being the bargain buy creations churned out for local tourists markets or merely as a source of inspiration for designers around the world, design from Africa was something that was not seen to exist in the definition of developed western design industries. But the fact is that design in its most fundamental form has been an integral part of African societies for centuries, bringing forth iconic creations such as the reclining beds and […]

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The Importance and Value of Craft in Design

In the West, craft is seen as being separate from design, two distinct categories, with craft often being derided for being too cottagey, or folksy in appearance and passed over in favour of the more glamorous design. As such it can be easy to forget that craft is at the heart of many western luxury brands from fashion to automotive engineering. In recent years, however, craft has moved closer to the centre stage and is increasingly being given it’s due, resulting in a greater appreciation for what is made by hand and recognising the importance and value of craft in […]

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A Well Made In Africa Aesthetic Upholds True Meaning Of Artisanship

African design and artisanship is something I am very passionate about, and it is wonderful to see it making great strides both locally on the African continent and internationally. Not too long ago in the West, the terms artisan or craft were seen as inferior, often dismissed as being the poor cousin of the much more feted and glamorous title of designer. But how times have changed, with the word artisan now a buzz word applied to everything from factory assembled furniture collections to processed food. The processes of which, a contradiction to the true meaning of artisanship, which typically […]

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What Role Do Communicators Have In Africa’s Development?

Across Africa, the creative industries have long been shunned for not being ‘respectable’ career path, and those working in them dismissed as wasting time. But opinions are changing as Africa’s creativity commands more attention and respect on the international stage. Leading to sustainable careers and the earnings and investment received contributing to the growth of local economies, thus benefiting Africa’s development. So for creators and storytellers, the title question of this article is an important one, as our work is all about communicating: ideas, stories, experiences and challenging the status quo. Art, design, literature, film and other forms of creative […]

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Christmas Wishes From Atelier Fifty Five

Once again the festive holidays are upon us, and I want to take the time to say a big, heartfelt thank you to you dear reader for being a part of the Atelier Fifty Five journey. This past year has been one of reflection and metamorphosis as the platform undergoes significant change to move it forward, and I hope you will continue to join me as it does so. Change is not easy, it is challenging and exhausting, so as always I will be taking some time away from the platform to rest and relax in the company of loved […]

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Small Business Saturday Buying African Design And Introducing The Shop at Atelier Fifty Five

Small/independent businesses can find it hard to compete with the ‘slash all prices’ nature of major shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Whilst large established retailers can afford to drastically cut their prices in a bid to attract shoppers, for the small business owner following suit could mean barely making a profit and negatively impacting their bottom line. Enter Small Business Saturday an annual event that encourages consumers to support their local small independent business owners by spending their money with them instead.

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Celebrating Refinement, Elegance and Craft Flowing From the Ateliers of Africa

Trees are important in rural African culture, they bring people together, making them the focal point of the community. A lot happens under a tree, people sit seeking refuge from the rays of the sun, leisurely watching the world go by, church services take place, school lessons conducted, a visiting health clinic sets up triage, and craftswomen lay their mats down sitting atop them, a baby or two sleeping beside them, as they weave baskets, bead clothing, jewellery and more, their skillful hands not missing beat as they catch up on the latest news and gossip.

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The importance of investing in Africa’s creative economy

It has been a busy few months for African talent on the big screen as actors and movies get recognised for their efforts during the annual awards season. We congratulate British-Ugandan actor Daniel Kaluuya for his Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and Oscar nominations, and winning the BAFTA EE Rising Star award. His success, and for others like him is a testament to the long hours of hard work, commitment and self-belief one has to put in, in an industry that is notoriously hard to break into. And this is a journey that needs support not just from family, friends, and […]

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Atelier Fifty Five Turns 7 As African Design Enters A New Era

  Today marks seven years of blogging! Seven years ago today I made a career shift and started a blog with vague ideas of what I wanted to do as a career, and no real idea of how I was going to get there. From the moment I created my first blog post to now when I have not only been privileged to witness the development of an industry -part of what I collectively refer to as the ‘golden age’ of contemporary African creativity- but to also create a career alongside it. The journey to this point has been a […]

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Is Africa Following Or Setting Creative Trends?

I was asked the question Is Africa Following Or Setting Creative Trends? I found this to be a very interesting yet difficult question to answer, and having done my best to do so at the time, the question has stayed with me as I felt it was a really important one that warranted a much deeper explanation to the answer I gave, my initial feeling being that Africa is neither following nor setting trends.

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Remembering Kossi Aguessy, A Visionary Designer and Artist

  It is with great shock and sadness that I learned about the death of the designer and artist Kossi Aguessy on 17th April 2017 on what was his 40th birthday. Having first discovered and featured his work on the website in 2011, I later had the privilege of interviewing him for a Design Indaba profile. The exchange was both fascinating and insightful as he shared his hopes and visions for future projects.

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