Give your lamps and light fittings a touch of contemporary African design with a range of colourful lamp finials from US-based interior design company, Hillary Thomas
. I must admit it took me a while to figure out how a lamp finial works; more common in older style lamps and light fittings, finials are the metal bit that attach the shade to the light socket element, and for a personalised touch can have decorative elements added to the top part, which when placed in the lamp peek out of the top of the shade; an addition that Hillary Thomas refers to as 'jewellery for your lamps'. Hillary Thomas Designs have created a range of decorative lamp finials featuring vibrant gemstones and intricately cut designs. Amongst the collections available is the striking Zulu Love Train collection, which features vibrant discs, at only 3 inches high and 2.25 inches wide, each individually hand woven from telephone wire by a group of Zulu weavers in South Africa. These finials would make an interesting wall feature if added to a line of wall lamp fittings minus the shade, and a touch bigger in size.
... a quick and stylish way to add a touch of character to your interior décor
Zulu Love Train Collection priced at: USD$55 each
For further information about Hillary Thomas and to purchase visit: www.hillarythomas.com
Lupane Women’s Centre
Looking like they have been swirled with delicate watercolours, this gorgeous range of traditionally handcrafted baskets is the result of a partnership between the Lupane Women’s Centre
in Zimbabwe and the Kingston University Design School in the UK, bringing a contemporary edge to traditional African design. The initiative entitled, Kingston Project Africa
was created to facilitate the exchange and support of knowledge between both regions, and led by Professor Catherine McDermott utilises the expertise of academics, industry practitioners and curators across various projects and collaborations. This particular project saw the head of the design school, Simon Maidment sharing his expertise, running a series of workshops in Zimbabwe over a period of two-weeks. The partnership saw the exploration of ways to make, transport and market the baskets, which are mainly sold to tourists visiting the country, but have also made their way into international retailers stores such as the Conran shop and Anthropologie. In recognition of the skill and creativity in production the baskets have been exhibited at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, as well as the London Design Festival and Design Indaba in Cape Town. Drawn from the disciplines of graphic to product design; students from the business and design schools of the University were also involved in the project, challenged to come up with effective solutions to help solve the problems faced by the women in producing and marketing the products. The ideas generated by the students were presented to the women producing the baskets during the workshops.
Located in Matabeleland a region lying two-hours outside Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, the Lupane Women’s Centre is a not-for-profit rural-based membership organisation that was founded in 1997 ‘for women by women’ in a bid to help members generate sustainable incomes through the provision of a range of skills, business and leadership training and support. The Lupane Women’s Centre currently has a 3200 strong membership, of which 2667 are women; the Centre also assists those who are marginalised, regardless of gender. In addition to basketry members are also involved in programmes including, gardening, candle and soap making, and bee keeping. A restaurant and conference facility for public hire helps generate an income to keep the Centre running. As a boost to the Centre the success of this project has meant continued funding from the British Council.
Scènes de lin
The beauty of traditional Moroccan artisanal skills is combined with French style to create a range of contemporary North African inspired linens, soft furnishings, and interior accessories, under the brand Scènes de lin
. Based in Marrakech, Scènes de lin was created by designer, and textile industry veteran Anne-Marie Chaoui, who in 2000 opened the doors to a beautifully appointed showroom in the district of Gueliz. Anne-Marie had relocated to Marrakech, inspired by the city and artisanal crafts of the city, and set up a local workshop working with highly skilled Moroccan artisans and craftsmen, in addition to employing the talents and traditional skills of home-based weavers and embroiderers, all working together to produce the Brand’s signature style of linens and interior products. Using high-quality materials, including linen, satin, flax and taffeta, Scènes de lin’s product ranges feature exquisitely embroidered linens in beautiful colours that not only go into creating sophisticated soft furnishings, but are also used to upholster furniture pieces giving them a new lease of life.
The Brand has built up a reputation in Morocco for quality, craftsmanship, attention to detail and the chic sophisticated style of the products produced, resulting in many of the country’s hotels and riads turning to Scènes de lin for exclusively designed furnishings, as well as interior design services. Scènes de lin is a family affair; in 2012 Anne-Marie’s eldest son, Karim Chaoui, and his wife opened a Scènes de lin showroom in Paris; and are also seeking to expand the brand into Asia.
For further information about Scènes de lin and order enquiries visit: www.scenesdelin.com
The Sankofa Center The Sankofa Center
is a not-for-profit arts-based organisation in Ghana that uses traditional African dance and music to promote an understanding of HIV/AIDS within the communities in which it works with. To help support the Center’s programmes and services, a boutique was established that utilises the skills of a cooperative specifically set up the Center to produce a range of products including; clothing, personal and household accessories; the proceeds of which are invested back into the organisation. It was through one of their current stockists, VivaTerra
, that I came across the Sankofa Center’s range of duvet sets and shower curtain products, created from a patchwork of brightly coloured wax cloth prints that, in the case of the shower curtain, is bound to make you instantly alert as you begin the day. The shower curtain is lined with recycled drinking water pouches, collected from the area, which are then cleaned and stitched together to form a waterproof lining. Made from 100% Cotton, the duvet set comes with a duvet and two pillow shams.
[Image credits: The Sankofa Centre top, Duvet Set; bottom, Shower Curtain - VivaTerra]
The Sankofa Center was founded in 2002, by Ronnie Shaw an American dancer and academic who was studying at the University of Ghana at the time, and later went on to establish a sister charity that is based in California. Dance-dramas and after school dance programmes help to deliver the message, in addition to a programme of classroom-based seminars. The Sankofa Center also provides rapid HIV/AIDS testing, counselling, access to free treatment and medication; and support for those living with HIV/AIDS. Depicted by a bird with its head facing backwards, the Sankofa is an ancient Adinkra symbol* meaning 'go back and get it'; referring to the importance of learning from the past as a way of bettering and correcting any mistakes that may affect the future; and it is this symbol and meaning that gives the Sankofa Center its name and philosophy. (*a visual communication system originating from the Asante of Ghana).
Nando's - Leigh, UKNando's
flame-grilled Portuguese/Mozambican style chicken, is a favourite in my household, not just for the taste, but also because of the familiarity the brand brings in transporting us back home for a little while. The South African based restaurant chain opened up in Zimbabwe the early nineties, so being able to pop into one in the UK is always a welcome reminder. Nando's was founded in South Africa in 1987, and now has restaurants in over thirty countries, including over 250 restaurants in the UK alone.
In a departure from the usual interior style of Nando's restaurants I am used to, the 2012 opening of a Nando's restaurant in Leigh, Greater Manchester in the UK transports diners to a colourful, bustling market, invoking stalls bursting with items such as fabrics, baskets and fresh produce. Designed by B3 Designers
, a UK interior design studio, the designers took inspiration from a South African market, creating a vibrant space that is full of life, bursting with colours, patterns and textures, both inside and out.
The restaurant has the feel of an open air market, and is designed to allow the seamless flow of exterior and interior spaces, through the use of carefully selected details, with the intention being to create a space where visitors could discover something new every time they visit the restaurant. One of the most striking details in the restaurant is on the ceiling, where one hundred brightly woven traditional baskets double up as light shades, as well as others being mounted on the walls. In every Nando's restaurant sustainability is a key feature of the interior design solutions, and in the Leigh restaurant reclaimed wood has been used for some of the structures. The design makes use of brightly painted metal chairs that complement vibrant custom-made wax cloth print fabrics used to upholster the booths in the seating areas and are a nod to the Continent's love of the fabric. When decorating their restaurants, Nando's also have a tradition of using their restaurants as a gallery, adorning the walls with the work of talented South African artists. The Portuguese heritage of the business is showcased through the incorporation of hand painted Portuguese tiles on the wall, and in the form of the signature Nando's red and black cockerel logo.
... bringing contemporary African flavour to the UK
For further information about Nando's visit: www.nandos.co.za
Dalia Sadany Dalia Sadany
is an Egyptian architect and interior designer who creates sophisticated, contemporary spaces for her residential and commercial sector clients. Dalia, provides a full service, design and build solution following the ancient, Master Builder approach to construction, a process which sees the architect retain responsibility for the project from conception to construction to handover. Dalia has developed a group of company partnerships under the umbrella Dezines, comprising Dezines, which offers architecture, interior design and landscaping services; DECON, which specialises in high-end interiors; and GUSH a bespoke furniture maker. Handmade in Egypt, the bespoke furniture collection features contemporary coffee, side tables and chairs. Accents and decorative features inspired by Egyptian folklore adorn some of the designs, as do inscriptions of calligraphy. Dalia's furniture was awarded the 2012 A' Design Award in Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design category in Milan, Italy.
The Moroccan home of UK fashion designer, Liza Bruce
and her artist husband Nicholas Alvis Vega, featured in Elle Decor
, is a feast for the eyes; a place where pattern, detail and colour abound. Liza, who made her name designing swimwear in the 1980s, began her travels to Morocco in 2003 sourcing material for her collections, and after several trips to the country sought to establish a base. A trip to the Ourika Valley, a riverside region situated south of Marrakech in the foothills of the Atlas mountains revealed an abandoned, half-built riad in a Berber market village. Working with highly-skilled Moroccan artisans, who included stained glass window and tile artists, woodworkers and plasterers, the couple rebuilt the shell to suit their vision and requirements. The remodelling of the building was inspired by the geometry of Islamic patterns and Swahili design, a nod to Kenya where Nicholas grew up.
Now a stylish retreat where Liza and her husband spend four months of the year, designing and creating the fabrics for their home textile and clothing collections, the three-storey riad features beautiful gardens, several terraces to lose yourself in, a relaxing swimming pool area, luxuriously appointed with cushion-filled daybeds, and a hammam steam bath. High elegant arches can be seen throughout, and on the rooftop are two domes, painted in brilliant white, a colour chosen to echo the Atlas Mountains in the background. Giving the building a spectacular silhouette against a blue sky, the white colour continues through to cover the exterior walls, and is in stark contrast to the softer, rose pink colour normally favoured in Morocco.
In the interior, the floors are also white, along with some of walls, however as contrast, bold swathes of colour make their appearance, as a primary palette of magenta and dark green hues, inspired by the djellaba robes worn by the local villagers, drenches whole walls. These colours are also carried through the home in the form of furniture and textiles accents. The couple chose to furnish the riad with their collection of furnishings and artefacts from Africa and Asia, which includes items like traditional West African beds; a buffalo hide shield, hand-carved chair and benches from Ethiopia; a cast bronze side table from Benin; elaborate tent pegs from Mauritania, mounted onto stands and flanking a bed; carved wooden chairs from Mali; basketry; and traditional Moroccan furniture. In the sitting room, ceilings and walls feature hot pink plaster, providing the backdrop to Kuba cloth pillows from the Congo that adorn an Afghan warlord's bed turned sofa; Yoruba crowns displayed on stands; an intricately beaded Yoruba armchair; and traditional beaded aprons.
Decorative wooden doors made by local artisans, create a screen-like effect in separating the rooms and spaces. Purposely choosing to have little in the way of formal seating, the couple instead have scattered pillows and Berber rugs around the riad's seating areas for visitors to recline at their leisure. The master bedroom overlooks the courtyard, and is furnished with an antique Moroccan Tuareg bed, sourced from a local souk and covered with a silk Ikat coverlet from Uzbekistan. The kitchen, built around a tree that now grows through the roof, is outfitted in the style of traditional Berber homes, and features mud walls and a ceiling constructed from reeds and wooden beams. Locally made, and decorated tiles cover the floor and work tops in a colourful mosaic.
The rooftop terrace is a spectacular space, adorned with an antique rug from Mauritania, floors cushions and benches inviting guests to relax as they choose, whilst making the most of the gorgeous views.
...a colourful, eclectic oasis
Information sourced from:
For the Elle Decor article and additional images visit: www.elledecor.com
I stumbled upon these amazingly decorated, hand-painted cabinets by Argentinean artist, Lucas Risé
. Visually stimulating, the cabinets are a riot of colour, pattern and texture, with several of the designs drawing inspiration from elements of African design and culture; from basketry to motifs. 'Somewhere in Africa', brings together elements of the different countries and regions visited during Lucas' travels to the Continent; whilst 'African Whimsical' pays homage to the traditional neck ornaments worn by women in the Continent's mid-western regions. The 'Carrousel' cabinet, in particular reminds me of the Yoruba beaded chairs
I have featured previously. The design sees the application of 21,000 metal studs covering the entire surface, creating an engaging tactile object. In addition to decorating cabinets, Lucas brings his intricate style to textiles, and other forms of furniture, like tables.
[Image credits: top, Somwhere in Africa; centre, Carrousel;
bottom, African Whimsical - Lucas Risé]
An award-winning artist, Lucas developed his unique decorative style during his travels around the globe. Interested in interactive art, Lucas uses furniture as a vehicle for self-expression, in the process turning an everyday functional object into a work of art that in turn allows the user to interact with art on a more personal level. These cabinets are collectable conversation pieces; and would be just the thing to bring character to an area such as an unloved hallway.
Wegner Shell Chair
I have seen this chair pop up on many a pinterest board channelling 'African Style', and whilst I cannot say whether the upholstery of the chair was inspired by Africa, the use of cowhide is obviously what has made it a favourite selection for many gathering African style inspiration. Low-seating, defined by a form-pressed plywood shell, and padded upholstered seat and back rest, the chair is a modern classic; known as the Hans J Wegner Shell Chair, designed in 1963 and named after the designer. At the time, only a few limited runs were created before production ceased, later to be revived with a relaunch in 1997. The iconic design had since grown in popularity, resulting in many authentic replicas, making it available in a range of shell finishes, and upholstery colours and patterns to suit. This particular reproduction, available on the Advanced Interior Designs
website, is made in America and features American Walnut veneer on plywood, with the upholstery available in black/white or brown/white cowhide. Australian online furniture store Matt Blatt
offers the chair in a black coloured veneer with a bolder black/white cowhide upholstery finish.
[Image credits: Wegner Shell Chair - top, Advanced Interior Designs; bottom, Matt Blatt]
...a very chic little chair, for contemporary African interiors
Odds & Ends Kenya
What can be more decadent than spending the day lounging on a daybed or chaise lounge, especially in warm sunny weather? Daybeds/Chaise Longues are my favourite piece of furniture, and when I had my flat I opted for a daybed/chaise longue footstool combo, rather than the traditional three-piece sofa and arm chair set-up; and it proved to be the perfect piece of furniture to unwind after a hard days work. Unfortunately for me, my guests thought so too, and to this day regularly 'hijack' my daybed/chaise, not that I am complaining; if I had my way I would fill my home with daybeds! A recent random search for daybeds led me to Odds & Ends
in Kenya, who have a range of majestic looking designs, just waiting to be piled high with comfy cushions, or if you are feeling especially indulgent, draped with fabric and placed in the garden to create a private oasis.
Daybeads are so appealing because they invite you chilli-out, and do absolutely nothing, a luxury in our busy lives. The Odds & Ends range of daybeds are solid pieces of furniture, and feature skilfully carved detailing, and intricate patterns, that remind me of ancient Indian Maharajah times, not surprising given the contribution Indian culture has had on aspects of Swahili culture.
[Image credits: top, Sabaki; centre, Safari; bottom, Pate Canopy, Daybeds - Odds & Ends]
Odds & Ends is based in Nairobi, and has been serving the market for twenty-five years, offering its customers, in their own words, 'the most amazing and unique range of furniture in Kenya'. With pieces that range from contemporary designs to antiques, the business comes across as one of those places you could spend all day in finding things that you never knew you were looking for!
For further information about Odds & Ends Kenya visit: www.oddskenya.com