Koffi & Diabaté Architect Agency
I don’t know whose houses these are but they are a fine example of contemporary African architecture and design from Koffi & Diabaté
; a leading architectural firm based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Koffi & Diabaté Architect Agency is primarily a partnership between founder and manager, Guillaume Koffi and Issa Diabaté who initially started at the firm as an intern, then became an employee before eventually being made partner. The partners work alongside a team of 18, all sharing ideas to bring the concepts to life. Koffi & Diabaté’s portfolio consists of mainly commercial architecture following the ethos of applying modern architectural methods to the current African urban context; in projects ranging from multi-storey buildings, to interior and industrial spaces. The architects also undertake commissions for private residences and going hand in hand with architecture, furniture is also designed to complement the architectural designs.
Villa Mercury: Dakar, Senegal 2003
The villa designs are impressive, yet simple in stature. Built with hot, often humid climates in mind the sleek sprawling designs capitalise on the necessity for spaces that are cool, light and airy. The designs follow the notion of letting air circulate around wide open interior spaces that appear to flow seamlessly from one to another and huge floor to ceiling windows act as movable walls to let the outside in and vice versa. All exhibiting Koffi & Diabaté’s signature style there are some gorgeous homes to view and as I couldn’t decide which ones to post I have chosen three. These are homes built for entertaining, enjoying the company of family and friends whether taking a dip an infinity pool or dining al fresco on the vast veranda areas. Urban tends to conjure up images of concrete, hard, fast moving environments; but here the use of wood and other natural materials gives the residences a certain warmth, softening the hard edges. The architects work to blend the lifestyle and cultural background of the users into the designs to ensure the finished project is functional and suitable for their needs.
Villa Pluton: Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire 2006
Koffi & Diabaté’s architecture can be seen throughout many West and other African capitals namely: Dakar, Senegal; Bamako, Mali; Cotonou, Benin; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. The partners are also working towards changing the perception of their profession in the environment they live in, through showcasing examples of the quality of their work and through direct involvement in the National Association of Architects in Cote d’Ivoire, a local organisation that is currently presided over by Guillaume Koffi and has seen the launch of the first major building fair to take place in Cote d’Ivoire. Plans for the future include the proposed launch of the Architect Institute of Cote d’Ivoire; aimed at enhancing the knowledge of local architects in urban city planning, the use of local materials and encouraging the exploration of new architectural solutions.
Villa Saturn: Cotonou, Benin 2003
… Stunning designs that showcase some of the finest examples of contemporary African architecture to be found across the continentAdditional information sourced: www.ted.com
For further information about Koffi & Diabaté Architect Agency visit: www.koffi-diabate.com
Journals and Notebooks
When I started this blog I never anticipated how much writing I would end up doing; making notes on paper, on the computer as I’ve let all my thoughts flow out. One thing that strikes me is how ideas for posts and perfectly formed snippets of sentences often appear at the most inconvenient of times, when there isn’t a paper, pen or pencil to be found within close range and by the time you’ve found one the moment is lost; the thought evaporated like a puff of smoke. As I am jotting this down on a notepad the iron is busy scorching a hole in the ironing board as the sentences come… oh well… The most inopportune time is when I am ready to sleep, in the calmness of the night my mind decides to kick into overdrive; sentences and snippets fly all over the place following each other before I barely have time to capture each one. I’ve taken to keeping a pad by my bedside, in the living and in my bag. Keeping a small notebook in my bag was something I did to record business ideas and make sketches wherever I was inspired, so writing shouldn’t be any different; in fact I think is has a greater sense of urgency about it which is why I say thank goodness for journals and notebooks. From bold colour to plain leather, I have rounded up a few stylish designs to make putting pen to paper a pleasure no matter what you want to record be it a shopping list or your next designer collection.
Let the freshness and beauty of nature inspire you through the bold and colourful graphic prints from Clinton Friedman available in soft or hard cover.
Journals shown range from: £3.75-£11.25
Let the energetic pusle of vibrant multicoloured wax cloth prints encasing plain cream coloured paper help kickstart those ideas. A5 notebooks
Journal shown priced at: £29
Minimalist, funky and timeless leather volumes containing 200 pages of recycled paper waiting to be filled with ideas; handmade by Belgian born Vincent Urbain who moved to South Africa in 2003 following a love of water and watersports.
Journals shown priced at: £260
...keep a journal/notebook handy and let your ideas flow wherever you maybe
To purchase Clinton Friedman journals visit: www.purelyafrican.co.uk
To purchase Eva Soniake journals visit: www.evasonaike.com
To purchase Urban Africa journals visit: www.africhic.com
Kitengela Hot Glass
Picture heavy wooden doors inlaid with bejeweled glass panels that greet your guests each time they visit; that’s just one of the images that comes to mind when I see the imaginative glass products from Kenyan company, Kitengela Hot Glass
. Glass blowing is a fascinating craft; just watching the molten glass take shape at the end of the pipe I am always amazed at the end results.
Bordering the Nairobi National Park, Kitengela Hot Glass was established in 1991 by Anslem Croze who studied his craft in France and Holland under the tutelage of leading Master glass-blowers. Anslem and the craftsmen he employed started out by learning as they went along, developing and refining the production process to suit their innovative designs and today the business provides employment for 35 people. Attracting visitors from all over the world who come to see the art of glass blowing in practice; the studio-cum-gallery and furnace is housed in a unique redbrick dome set on the edge of the Kenyan wilderness and as Anslem explains, “It’s where the magic happens. Our dome has more than 1,000 glass stars inset into the ceiling in an accurate rendition of the night sky…” Due its location the premises faced the challenge of having no electricity and this called for the development of energy-saving processes that would be kind to the environment but still providing for their needs.
Glass is all the more precious because of its fragility and each eye-catching piece is handmade using recycled materials from broken windows to colourful glass bottles; all refashioned into functional, stylish objects from intricately formed vases, goblets, coffee tables to majestic murals, lamps, and windows, objects that exude jewel-like tones as they capture and reflect the light. Kitengela Hot Glass caters to the public as well as undertaking commissions for private clients including leading restaurants, hotels, lodges and discerning corporate clients throughout Africa and the world. Anslem is inspired by the can-do approach instilled in local Kenyan artisans and has applied the same ethos to Kitengela Hot Glass making everything work through a flexible approach encouraging continuous innovation. The company has three shops located in Nairobi, a wholesale outlet at the studio and an outlet at the Cultural Heritage Centre in Arusha Tanzania.
A small company, Kitengela Hot Glass adheres to fair trade guidelines investing in the workforce through fair pay, training, medical assistance, transport and decent working hours. The company also supports the local community in particular the local school; supplying furniture, textbooks and water; and have also bestowed individual scholarships on students with the local orphanage.
…some truly inspired products from an amazing craft, bringing the wow factor into your home or establishment
For further information and to order visit: www.kitengela.com
Kitengela Hot Glass delivers internationally
Orders can take between 4-8 weeks to complete
I’m not a fan of huge oversize earrings that overshadow the face and in the process stretch earlobes to the limit, but do love flirty dangly earrings; especially ones with colourful little stones that sparkle, catching the light with every flick and turn of the head, so when I came across some exquisite little gems from Los Angeles based jeweller Nehita
I was hooked.
Lawyer turned jewellery designer Monalisa Okojie founded Nehita soon after graduating from the Gemological Institute of America in 2008, drawing on her Nigerian heritage for inspiration and catering to a clientele seeking elegance with a dash of attitude. Nehita’s luxurious collection of jewellery makes use of hand picked semi precious stones in all their colourful glory; think rubies, sapphires, emeralds, citrine, amethyst, peridot, tourmaline and diamonds; which Monalisa takes care to ensure are conflict free. The colourful stones accentuate the gold designs which can be found across collections for both men and women in bangles, necklaces and rings.
Monalisa sees Nehita jewellery as a joyous collection inspired by life and what is happening all around us and is all about celebrating success no matter how big or small.
…absolutely gorgeous sparkling stunners
Prices on the MaxandChloe website range from: USD$770-USD$2156
For further information about Nehita visit: www.nehita.com
To purchase from MaxandChloe visit: www.maxandchloe.com
is a proudly Zambian business whose aim is to 'bring timber to life'. The beauty and craftsmanship of woodwork skills in Zambia is celebrated through the designs of Kubu, a furniture manufacturing company based in Livingstone, Zambia that seeks to reinterpret the artistry of traditional wood furniture through the use of contemporary design aesthetics and modern techniques. I just love the look of the sleek, polished lines.
Kubu is inspired by Africa’s natural beauty; embodying the energy, texture and soul within designs that would be especially familiar to anyone who has visited Southern Africa or spent time in some of the safari lodges within the region, as the company is recognised as a leading supplier to upmarket safari lodge industry. Mainly crafted out of indigenous Teak and Rosewood sourced from licensed environmentally responsible suppliers, the furniture is sturdy at times taking the forms of the wood it was crafted from; so expect natural imperfections in the grain which give the furniture is distinguishing characteristics.
Lucy Renew and Roelf Bosman established Kubu in 1997, starting out by furnishing and decorating upmarket lodges along the Upper Zambezi River. The company has since expanded to encompass three stores in Livingstone and a flagship store at Manda Hill Centre in Lusaka and operates its manufacturing process from a modern workshop outfitted with the latest wood working equipment to ensure the continuous production of quality furniture and craftsmanship. Today Kubu has 75 staff including carpenters, welders, wireworkers, and carvers who all contribute their skills to the production of beautifully crafted furniture.
Kubu works with international volunteer organisations to help with the business' expansion into the international export market; in addition to this the company also works closely with the Danish Organisation, Danida and P.U.M. in a program that has seen experts from the Netherlands come into the country to train lecturers at the local technical colleges; as well as training the staff at Kubu in all levels of furniture manufacture for export.
… Kubu defines beautiful solid furniture built to last a lifetime
Upon placing an order allow 6-12 weeks before delivery
For further information and place an order visit: www.kubucrafts.com
CC Treats by CocktailCouture
Today has been a day of celebration; the culmination of an intense, but thoroughly rewarding year of study as I attended my graduation in the company of my family and was formally awarded my Master of Arts degree. I enjoyed my MA; so involved was I in the areas I was exploring that I wasn’t ready to let go when it ended and this was one of the reasons I started African Daydreams; I’m still learning! For me a celebration is incomplete without some form of delicious goodies from CocktailCouture
, a London based events company that recently launched CC Treats
; a delectable range of freshly home-baked sweet treats using the finest ingredients available. Domestic goddess and event planner Rufaro - or Faro as she is known to her friends and family - founded CocktailCouture with the aim of designing stylish weddings and other meaningful events that blend elegance and sophistication with the specific cultural touches required by a demanding but time-poor clientele.
In Faro’s own words ‘tasty little luxuries’ are exactly what CC Treats create; I would add irresistible because you can’t resist no matter how much you try; and having sampled a fair few I know what I’m talking about. Moist and indulgent, the baked treats include cakes, cookies, brownies, cake pops and off course cupcakes. All treats are baked by Faro to order via the CocktailCouture website, using a build your cake/treat format where indicated. Choices include; a tempting selection of sponges from Madagascan Vanilla Bean, Divine Chocolate made using Divine Chocolate’s fair-trade Cocoa to the melt in your mouth Lemon Touch with a touch of fresh lemon zest. Delicious fillings range from Amarula Cream, Dark Chocolate Ganache to the fun and unexpected Marshmallow Fluff. Top it all off with mouth-watering frostings from the tropical flavours of Coconut and Lime to classic Strawberry Meringue. I’m hard pressed to choose a favourite but will give a special mention to fresh out the oven brownies… heavenly bliss with a drizzle of fresh cream.
Offering a personalised service, a consultation is carried out before an order is placed to create the perfect treat according to your requirements. Visit the CC Treats gallery
to see some past creations and get inspiration. CC Treats also provide Dessert Buffets for special occasions like weddings and birthday parties. Faro will work with you to create a themed spread that fits in with the event covering colour scheme, props and treats.
…whether its a celebration or simply spoiling yourself indulge in some ‘tasty little luxuries’, as for me I’m waiting for the next tasting session which shouldn’t be too long!
For prices and minimum order quantities see the price list on the website
Treats can be collected from CC Treats. Delivery available see the website for details
For further information and to order visit: www.cocktailcouture.co.uk
Lovetta Conto is a gifted young woman on a mission; smart, determined to succeed and affect positive change. A few years ago at just seventeen years of age Lovetta set about turning bullets into beautiful poignant pieces of jewellery with a story; traded under the name ‘Akawelle
’ which translates as ‘also known as love’.
Born in Liberia Lovetta was raised in a refugee camp after her family, like hundreds of others was forced to flee the civil war to Ghana. Lovetta's story
gives insight into life in the refugee camps; she speaks of the sense of despondency and hopelessness felt and how through it all she never gave up on her belief that there was more to her life and achieving her full potential; crediting her father with instilling this belief in her. Lovetta’s journey shows how in the midst of darkness and despair hope can find a way through, it was whilst in the camp that Lovetta's potential for leadership was spotted by co-founder of the Strongheart Fellowship
, Cori Stern and the talented teen’s life soon changed as Lovetta began a programme of travel, study and helping others in a similar situation to hers. The Strongheart Fellowship's aim is to help young people with hard lives change their future in the hope that one day they too will help others. Displaying the wisdom of someone more than twice her age, of the Strongheart Fellowship programme Lovetta says ‘I’ve become stronger in my own broken places. That is why I say I am not ashamed of my past. It has made me who I am...’.
Lovetta initially had wanted to study law but eventually realised design was her true passion and faced a dilemma a lot of young Africans face when choosing a future career, our parents want us to do well and settle in a secure profession such as law, medicine, teaching and accountancy and don't tend to see a career in design as being profitable or secure. I faced the same issues when I announced I wanted to be a fashion designer instead of studying law. Gathering the courage to follow her dreams, Lovetta is a fighter whose weapon of choice is creating beauty from the destructive ugly symbols of war and she transforms them into objects of beauty, symbols of hope, known as the Akawelle Necklace
. Money from the Akawelle necklace goes towards Lovetta’s future and helped create the first Strongheart House in Liberia, where she lives with other young people who are going through hard times; in aditiion to this Lovetta also attends the African Leadership Academy in South Africa.
… Lovetta is a testament to the power of self-belief and following ones dreams.
Prices range from: USD$75-USD$130
For further information about visit: www.akawelle.com
To find more about the Strongheart Fellowship visit: www.strongheartfellowship.org
The healing soothing fruits of mother earth are blended in a range of luxurious eco-friendly products developed by South African based Africology
. Utilising the healing essences of some of South Africa’s indigenous plants to revitalise the skin and help prevent the damage caused by stress, free-radicals and harsh dry climates, Africology aims to help you re-connect to self, in harmony with nature and the world around.
[Image credit: Africology]
Natural plant extracts used include the Marula fruit, African Potato, Rooibos and Aloe Vera and products are scented with the heavenly aromas of natural essential oils carefully chosen to calm the senses and unlock the mind and offer a truly luxurious pampering experience. Africology products have been designed to allow customers to customise their beauty and wellbeing regimes, selecting different products for a specific problem at any given time without disrupting the effects of daily skincare regimes. With good range of products to choose from simply spending time on their website is sending me into a state of tranquillity. If any hotel owners happen to be reading this, Africology also caters to the hotel spa industry and have specially designed packages to cater for an establishments needs.
Africology steers clear of the harmful chemicals and preservatives commonly used in beauty and cosmetics that cause the build up of toxins in the body; instead using natural and where possible organic ingredients. By listing some of the harmful chemicals and possible effects on the body, Africology works to promote safety in skin
care, empowering consumers with the knowledge to make wise informed choices when choosing products that are good and healthy for them. I appreciate beautifully and thoughtfully packaged products and Africology’s safety in skin care philosophy also extends to the simple and stylish packaging whereby the company also strives to use glass containers where possible, as it is seen as the safest in terms of toxins released as compared to others such as aluminum.
If living in or visiting Johannesburg then why not treat yourself by stopping by the fully equipped private treatment rooms of the flagship eco friendly spa. For a few hours shut away the hustle and bustle of the busy city to indulge in a range of ultra-luxurious treats such as the Majestic Awakening and Shamen’s Healing Journey amid Zen like surroundings.
…heal and restore mind, body and soul with Africology
Prices range from £5.62-£87 / ZAR50-ZAR660
For further information and to find a stockist visit: www.africology-sa.com
It was so cold last night one would think we were in the middle of winter! I had rather high hopes for the British summer given the glorious start we had; however lately it’s been a bit hit and miss leaving me to look forward to a holiday in the sun instead. This brings the dilemma of what to wear and trying to pack light, something I’m still trying to master, especially when the ‘just in case I need it’ thought reigns supreme. When it comes to swimwear, Bantu’s
chic and colourful pieces would definitely make their way in.
[Image credit: top, Bantu Swimear; bottom, Bantu Bikinis - Barneys New York]
American/Ethiopian Yodit Ecklund founded Bantu, which means ‘gateway’ in Wolof (Senegal’s native language), with a mission to ‘introduce the world to African beach culture’ with a line of vibrant beachwear and accessories in striking African prints and using an all-African manufacturing process. Tapping into the vibrant beach culture that exists across the continent from Dakar to Zanzibar; Casablanca to Cape Town, Bantu as the name suggests desires to be a gateway to this exciting world raising awareness and contributing to change across the continent. Yodit hopes that more consumers will begin to demand finished products from Africa, rather than simply seeing the export of the raw materials.
…so time to kick back and glam it up around the pool or on the beach in Africhic style!
Current prices range from: USD$89-USD$109
For further information about Bantu and to find stockists visit: www.bantuwax.com
To purchase range currently on Barneys New York visit: www.barneys.com
Afro baroque- what a gorgeous sounding name for some, equally gorgeous looking mirrors inspired by the rich sights and sounds of Africa; that I came across featured on Cape Town stylist Kim Gray's
blog. Bold, bright and very colourful these mosaic mirrors come from Papercake
a company based in Greenside, Johannesburg that specialises in handmade mosaic and ceramic tiles. Papercake’s exclusive ranges bring a touch of stylish character to the living space and the sumptuously decorated Afro baroque mirrors are ideal for creating a focal point in which to build your décor around, taking cues from the colours used.
For me mosaics always tend to conjure up the Mediterranean; an area known for its rich tradition in mosaics dating back to ancient times. Mosaics are traditionally made using chips of stone or glass that are then inlaid onto backings such as walls or floors forming designs ranging from lavishly intricate murals to simple patterns and borders often seen in contemporary bathrooms and kitchens. Some of the most striking and memorable mosaics I remember were those of mermaids and fish frolicking at the bottom or edge of sparkling blue pools in the suburbs of Harare.
Papercake also hold mosaic workshops where enthusiasts can ‘break and make’ to their hearts content, choosing from a range of projects including mirrors and decorative house numbers or if you have something more specific in mind you can set up a custom project by request. The company also undertakes projects from hotels to private commissions, including pools.
...remember when it comes to mosaics keep it tasteful as the different textures and patterns can start to compete and become overwhelming
For further information visit: www.papercake.co.za