The soothing, nourishing, regenerating and healing properties of West Africa's indigenous plant life forms the basis of a range of 100% natural skincare products formulated by Senegalese based business, Chouette Mama
. The business was founded in 2007 by Phil and Geraldine Pernin, a French couple with an interest in botany, that led them to relocate to Popenguine, a small village on the Senegalese coast with idea of setting up a laboratory creating natural skincare based around plants that have been used locally for generations. Virgin sesame oil, shea butter, essential oils and plant extracts such as baobab, hibiscus, moringa, okra and kola nut are formulated to create a range of body lotions, vegetable based soaps, shampoos, massage oils, shea butter balms and exfoliating scrubs. Chouette Mama products are sold throughout Senegal and West Africa and have been gaining international interest.
Chouette Mama products are produced in partnership with members of the Popenguine community including; recruiting and training local women, sourcing from local suppliers and producers of raw materials; and collaborating with local artisans who help create the product packaging and display elements such as wooden boxes, soap dishes and bags made from African fabrics.
...Africa's natural beauty.
For further information about Chouette Mama and order enquiries visit: www.chouette-mama.com
Weathered by the elements, wood salvaged from old or discarded fishing boats is given a new lease of life as contemporary furniture collections, whilst retaining the hallmarks of its former life. Along the coasts of West Africa fishermen have long been a common sight, making daily trips into the ocean in brightly coloured narrow boats crafted by highly skilled craftsmen; and it is this connection between fishing and carpentry that inspired Artlantique
to produce its distinctive and colourful furniture, which design in Spain by Ramón Llonch
and handcrafted in Senegal by a team of master craftsmen.
The boats are made from untreated Samba wood and feature layer upon layer of paint as fresh coats and designs are added over the lifespan of the boat. Artlantique works with local craftsmen and their apprentices to produce the furniture pieces from the reclaimed wood. Boats that have passed their useful life are bought from the fishermen, transported to the Artlantique workshop where the craftsmen decide how best to utilise the wood, taking into consideration the size of the boat and colour combinations.
[Image credits: top, Fauteuil Palmarin; bottom, Lompoul - Artlantique]
No two boats are ever the same, making each Artlantique furniture piece unique. The designs are simple relying on the illustrations and layers of peeling paint to add character and texture, in the process telling the stories of livelihoods; thousands of nautical miles spent riding the waves; and those of the people that carved them to withstand the daily demands of carrying fishermen and their catch.
For further information about Artlantique and purchase enquiries visit: www.artlantique.comThe Artlantique website carries a list of select stockists in Spain, France and Italy: www.artlantique.com
A Senegalese Holiday Home
An explosion of clashing colour and pattern characterises an idyllic holiday home in Senegal that I came across on the blog, African Moto
. Located in the popular resort town of Saly, simple outdoor living is the order of the day conveyed in a mix of local, regional and Parisian influences.
Exterior walls in shades of salmon pink become feature points providing the backdrop to a generous seating area constructed out of stonework, and covered with a myriad of plump Dutch wax cloth cushions, arranged around wrought iron coffee tables that were created by local Senegalese artisans and spray painted in a local body shop; whilst a shaded terrace for entertaining guests features a dining table and benches carved by a local carpenter and accessorised with more vibrant fabrics that include an 'Obama' oilcloth from South African company, Shine Shine
. The house has no glass panes, instead shutters are used and apple green coloured gates on some of the window spaces provide another excuse to add even more splashes of colour.
Indoors, English sofas and armchairs are covered with vibrant Dutch Wax and solid bold colour, set off against a backdrop of calming vanilla walls, and in the bathrooms bright purple is the colour of choice. In the kitchen, complementing the stonework base units is a cabinet by Senegalese furniture designer Ousmane Mbaye
, adding a focal point of patchwork colour.
Colourfully eclectic, this home is alive with carefree, playfulness.
For further information about Elle Decoration France visit: www.elle.fr
Creating poetry, songs and works of art, designer Loman Pawlitschek is the embodiment of the term 'creative spirit'. Creating mobiles and other decorative art features like mirrors, Loman is committed to upcycling, taking unwanted and discarded scrap metals and materials, turning them into functional objects of value. Originally from Australia, Loman and her family moved to South Africa for a few years where she worked as an interior decorator, before moving to Dakar, Senegal where she has lived for four years; and where her business Loman Art
is based. Dakar has been a source of inspiration for Loman who draws inspiration from the city; the energy, the people and the weather amongst other things, saying that what she has found in Senegal has inspired her to do things differently from the norm and to try and make a difference.
Having no experience of working with metal Loman acknowledges that creating the first mobiles was a learning curve. Loman started by working with some local metal workers who soon came to work with for business full-time. Sourcing sheets of metal or rolls of wire from a recycling yard in Medina, a local neighbourhood, all the metal shapes for each product are cut by hand, and some pieces can be quite detailed taking a long time to complete. The paint used on the metal is the same as that used for painting cars and is an involved process which saw Loman and the team visit a local car workshop to see firsthand how it was done. Loman Art now comprises a team of seven who work across, metalwork, painting and decorating, and sewing; and by invitation some established local artists have come into the workshop to teach the team new techniques in painting and metalwork. Other materials collected include bottle tops and ring can pulls that are being used to decorate linens and accessories like cushion covers, aprons and handbags.
Loman Art is essentially about taking 'rubbish' and turning it into unique art pieces and Loman's home; both interior and exterior is a testament to the business' imaginative and highly creative designs with walls providing the backdrop to intricately assembled floral inspired mobiles whilst floral and geometric inspired chandeliers hang gracefully overhead; including one impressive centrepiece that when switched on has rotating parts like planets orbiting the sun! Outside, sculpted mirrored panels made from scrap metal or bottle tops woven together line the walls, but the 'piece de resistance' of which there are two... come in the form of a huge racing car climbing up the side of a wall and an equally huge glitter ball suspended over the swimming pool that gently rotates when switched on. Although made from metal some of Loman Art's designs tend to have a light paper-like quality about them, think origami, but closer inspection reveals them to be quite sturdy.
For further information about Loman Art and commission enquiries visit: http://lomanartsen.com
Aissa Dione Tissus
Businesses, schools, private residences, galleries, shops, hotels, workshops and studios opening up their spaces to hold exhibitions as part of the Dak'art OFF programme, brought the opportunity to meet with the artists and designers behind the works if you got your timing right. Opening the doors of her home was award-winning textile artist Aissa Dione Tissus
, who was displaying the works of several artists in her elegant surroundings. Aissa was very welcoming and I was honoured to meet her; it was one of the many occasions I wished I spoke French, as there was so much I wanted to ask. Aissa is renowned for her luxurious, high-end fabrics that have attracted commissions from the likes of Hermès and Fendi.
Of French/Senegalese heritage, Aissa grew up in France where she studied Fine Arts and started her career as a painter, moving to Senegal in her twenties to develop her art. It was in Senegal where Aissa began to create her innovative textiles; the result of offering to help a client, who wanted to buy one of her paintings, redecorate his office. Aissa did so sourcing local staff, materials and tools; and her fabrics were soon picked up by the local press, which led to a leading international designer who spotted them in a magazine placing an order, and subsequently others followed suit.
Aissa's colourful and beautifully woven textiles combine traditional techniques, such as Mandjaque weaving, with her own brand of style and creativity; reworking the colours, motifs and designs in richly dyed threads and materials like cotton and raffia to create products that have a contemporary classic design aesthetic. The fabrics are gorgeous, beautiful to touch with a smooth silky feel that is contrasted with the texture of the patterns. The fabrics created are also turned into personal and home décor items like bed linen, clothing, bags, table linen, cushions and throws.
Aissa is noted for her professionalism, seen through her products and the way her business is run. Producing and exporting her hand woven fabrics, Aissa has been in the industry for over twenty years and employs over 100 staff in her factory located on the outskirts of Dakar in an area called Rufisque. Aissa insisted I visit her Atelier to see the machines and how everything was done but unfortunately my plans got thwarted just as I was heading out the city...Oh well next time I'm in Senegal! I was told, however that in the factory traditional know-how is combined with modern advancements, Aissa has developed her own looms, adapted from those used for traditional weaving, and some with the help of Dakar Technology. Modern looms are also used.
Supportive of up-and-coming artists Aissa used to have a gallery in the city centre, and is now looking to turn her home into a gallery space. In addition to fabrics, Aissa also produces beautifully crafted furniture like dining room tables and sofas covered with her fabrics.
Papa Ibra Tall
Several months ago I coveted a dress made out of gorgeously colourful clashing prints, alas no available size meant it remained on the hanger, but was reminded of the distinctive print when I saw some stunning tapestries by renowned Senegalese artist Papa Ibra Tall, whose exhibition opening was one of the first I stumbled upon during Dak’art 2012
. Held at the Place du Souvenir, the event was a retrospective of sorts celebrating the artist's long career, a lively well attended occasion that saw guests milling about observing the art and enjoying the warm evening, serenaded by the jazzy sounds of the National Orchestra. Displayed alongside paintings and photography, for me the tapestries were the highlight; rich in detail, colour and pattern; and at several metres in length and width covered large expanses of the exhibition room’s walls. Each tapestry was accompanied by a framed A3 painted sketch that showed the basis of the final piece. Woven in wool, the tapestries had a heavy sumptuousness about them and featured vivid, intricately themed imagery, the bright colours, mostly used against dark backgrounds for added contrast. The artistic style called to mind the highly decorative Art Nouveau characteristics of depicting nature, flourishes and rich colour; in particular that of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt; with hints of Picasso’s Cubism structure.
[Image credits: Papa Ibra Tall - top, Chevauchée solaire;
bottom, La solitude de l’oiseleur – Collection Abdoulaye Diop et Gnagna Sow via Dak'Art 2012]
In a career spanning back to the mid-1950’s Papa Ibra Tall studied architecture and fine art in Paris and it was here that he started designing and weaving his tapestries, inspired by the designs and colours he had seen in a local exhibition of carpets and rugs. Paris was also where Papa Ibra Tall developed a love for Black American Jazz - referenced to in the music he chose for the opening of his exhibition - and during the same period he was also instrumental in organising an exhibition for Black artists living in Europe. Following independence in 1959 Papa Ibra Tall returned to Senegal, and began experimenting with ceramics, screen-printing and tapestry; eventually setting up a loom and began working to develop the modern art of weaving within the country. Between 1974-1991 Papa Ibra Tall’s work was part of a major traveling exhibition showcasing contemporary Senegalese art in America, Europe and Asia. Involved in major world cultural events, Papa Ibra Tall has also receiving various honours that include Commander of the Academic Palms of the Republic of Senegal; the Knight of the Order of Rio Branco from Brazil; and in the USA he has been awarded Freeman of the City of New Orleans and the City Atlanta. Tapestries always remind me of old grand stately homes given how they can dominate the rooms they are hung in, but despite the fact that the ones shown date back to the 1970's they have a timelessness about them and would work in contemporary interior spaces.
...a pioneer of contemporary African art, Papa Ibra Tall's tapestries are fine examples of modern classics
Nanga def, ('hello, how are you' in Wolof... and, also the name given to a rather yummy cocktail!)
Four weeks in Dakar have come and gone leaving in their wake a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds and colours. My time Dakar was amazing, surpassing my expectations. There are times when some things are just meant to be, when everything just comes together; I felt that during my time in Senegal. I went to Senegal with no real plan of what I was going to do, having deliberately chosen to adopt a-wait-till-I-get-there approach. Unbeknownst to me at the time of planning, my trip coincided with the Dak'Art 2012 Biennale
, which quickly formed the framework to my days, as the city was taken over by exhibition openings, performances, and discussions centred on art and design. Although I knew about the Biennale I hadn't thought to check when the next one was being held, so it was a pleasant surprise, and I could not have planned it better; a whole month indulging in art, design and creativity in deliciously hot sunshine. And indulge I did... by the end of my holiday I was mentally exhausted, my mind saturated and trying to process all I had seen and done... and above all I came away fulfilled. My research had revealed Dakar to be a highly creative and cultural city, but to step into the midst of it whilst a month-long celebration was happening was something else.
Amongst the littered and dusty landscape beats the rhythmic pulse of a vibrant, energetic city going about it days; it wasn't brash, more like a continuous hum heard through voices blending in with traffic drifting up to shady balconies, and through open windows, backed by the steady beat of construction work in shaping new silhouettes across the city. I met artists, some of whom I've featured, others I had on my list waiting to be posted, and yet others who will now be added. I visited exhibitions and attended openings; some good, some not so good; some planned, others I just happened to stumble upon following the sounds of enticing music drifting in the air. I sought refuge from the heat in airy cool gallery spaces, such as the Raw Material Company
and Biscuiterie de Medina. I peeked into open-air workshops to watch artisans at work, carving objects or recycling metals; and wandered round the studios of artists at Village des Arts de Dakar
, near the airport. I engaged in lively dialogue, challenged my perceptions and conquered my fears. I had the pleasure of meeting with several readers of African Daydreams who took me to their favourite places in the city; introduced me to renowned local artists such as textile artist Aissa Dione Tissus; and toured art collections like the contemporary pieces from local artists that can be seen displayed throughout the sophisticated interior of the Radisson Blu
; which I was told was designed by South African architectural practice, Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen
, previously featured on African Daydreams. I saw and interacted with products I have featured on African Daydreams; including the innovative stools and tables by Bibi Seck
. I sifted my way through colorful fabrics, jewellery and basketry as I 'discovered' local arts and crafts geared towards the tourist market; taking a particular delight in the colourful kitsch 'sous verre' glass paintings that ranged from contemporary illustrations to simplistic stylised renderings of Senegalese people and everyday life; and was overwhelmed by way too much samey-samey objects like the skillfully carved wood carvings lining the streets and gracing the stalls. I thought I knew what an 'African' market was like until came face-to-face with Sandaga; Zimbabwean markets are tame in comparison! Wow it was an experience, overwhelming... once was enough and I opted for the more smaller, quieter markets where I could practice my bargaining skills! A generalisation, the Senegalese marketeers know how to sell and can talk the talk! Away from Dakar, took the ferry to the beautiful, yet poignant Goree Island which invoked a period of quiet reflection; and spent another day strolling the beaches of Saly.
[Image credits: clockwise from top left; Fishing Boats via Senegal.co.uk; Obstacle Serge Alain Nitegeka, Installation at l'Institut Français © Tapiwa; The Millennium Door Statue © Tapiwa, Ocean View © Tapiwa; Sous Verre Paintings via Le Pays De la Teranga; and Baobab Treetop © Tapiwa]
Add good food, creamy cocktails and being serenaded by the sounds of waves crashing along to the shore, I could spend all day trying to capture the essence of my experiences. For someone who doesn't speak French or Wolof I didn't do too badly methinks. I got to know Dakar well, but I couldn't have done it on my own. Thank you, I am truly grateful to everyone who looked after me, translated for me, gave of their time to take me out and about or simply offered advice. PS: if you are reading this and wondering if that includes you; yes it does!
Filed away in my mind, as the days go by I will be sharing my 'finds'
My journey on this blog has lead me to some wonderful discoveries of talent and traditions I knew nothing about, so when a stylish range of handbags and clutches called Fulani
landed in my inbox I was introduced to an exquisitely woven traditional fabric from Senegal called Rabaal, which provided the inspiration for the collection. Mainly used as a commodity, given to honour some of life's greatest events such as a wedding or birth of a child, Rabaal is a delicate fabric hand woven by skilled artisans using traditional patterns that have been updated with bright pops of colour for a more modern look. I love the rainbow colours on the on the clutch bag, perfect for taking with you as you celebrating some of your own special life events; and meeting the needs of the modern woman, large shoulder bags contain all your essentials with ample room to double up as stylish overnight bag.
Adhering to the motto 'live your live in colour', Fulani was founded by Florida-based architect Souadou Barry, who hails from Senegal where she grew up, moving first to Europe and then to America to pursue her studies. Fulani draws inspiration from the places Souadou has lived, celebrating her heritage and a desire to create beautiful things that make women feel special. Functionality, structure and quality craftsmanship are the skills Souadou gained as an architect, transferring them to the bags which are constructed in the USA. Soft pebble grain leather serves to frame the vibrant fabrics and high quality hardware provides a luxurious finish.
...blending heritage and style by design
Current collection priced at: USD$50-USD$450
For further information about Fulani and to order visit: www.fulanihandbags.com
Galerie Arte Galerie Arte
is a veritable treasure trove, home to an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional furniture, home décor, art, jewellery and handicrafts from highly skilled African artists and artisans. I was introduced to the Senegalese gallery by Ratiba, a current Dakar resident and décor lover who described it as 'Dakar's most beautiful place', and having had a virtual browse, looks like the kind of place I could quite easily get 'lost' in for a few hours. The gallery/showroom located in Dakar was established by designer Joëlle le Bussy in 1996, in part due to her observations on African woods being exported to Europe to be made into furniture that was then being imported back to Africa to be sold by local retailers, prompting her desire to challenge this practice this by designing furniture and other home décor objects that would be created locally using the wood.
[Image credit: Interior Design - Galerie Arte]
Joëlle's award winning furniture designs are a mix of African and European styles influenced by her multicultural Belgian Congolese and Senegalese French heritage. Galerie Arte's furniture collections are handcrafted in the gallery's on site cabinet making workshop which employs the craftsmanship and skills of ten cabinet makers who hail from Casamance, a region in the south of Senegal known for its traditional and cultural respect towards wood. Senegalese woodwork in general is said to emanate from the southern region, where the climate is wetter allowing for several varieties of trees to grow, and as an integral part of daily life is seen as sacred. Wooden art, however, is said to be rare in the northern part of Senegal due to a Sahelian climate, which is semi arid, resulting in mainly hardier species such as palm and baobab trees growing there. The wood used by Galerie Arte is certified, coming from legal sources, in addition to using other pieces of wood that are reclaimed from driftwood and found pieces.
[Image credits: Galerie Arte]
Joëlle's designs also recycle elements of traditional African art such as a Dogon hut door from Mali being used in place of standard cupboard doors, a feature of the Nongo furniture collection which is designed to tell Africa's history through the pieces. Another collection featuring more contemporary designs utilises the African woods in motifs and sees the combination of the different wood types and shades resulting in a tonal patchwork effect. The furniture designs are accentuated with handles created by Senegalese blacksmiths, and have been cast in iron or bronze using the lost wax method. All pieces created are limited edition or one-off-a-kind and are complemented by the carefully selected works of art for sale in the gallery.
[Image credits: Galerie Arte]
If the gallery's offerings leave you a bit undecided as to how to to make it all work in your home or desired space, Joëlle also offers an interior design service.
...a inspirational blend of contemporary and traditional African style
For further information about Galerie Arte visit: www.arte.sn
African Prayer Hamper/The Travelers Collection
Ditch bog standard plastic laundry baskets in favour of some elegantly coiled hampers hand-woven by the Wolof women of Senegal and available on The Travelers Collection
, a US-based offering a diverse collection of globally inspired personal and home ware accessories and gifts. Simply stylish, the hampers are made from recycled prayer mats that have been woven using njodax grass and plastic strips and come in subtle soothing colour palettes that bring a touch of contemporary African chic into the interior. Available in different sizes, the hampers have ample room, not only concealing mountains of laundry but lend themselves to tidying away items like toys, doubling up as decorative objects in process, meaning if storage space is an issue simply dot them round the home; just make sure inquisitive guests don't go round lifting the lids!
The Travelers Collection is a journey into artisanal handicrafts inspired by the experiences of global travels; in particular the people encountered along the way. Representing different cultures and regions across the globe the Travelers Collection celebrates creativity for positive benefit and is dedicated to giving back to the communities visited by supporting local artisans and entrepreneurs. Familiar and unusual handcrafted products have been sourced from Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Europe, the Caribbean and the Middle East; and include contemporary and cultural jewellery, baskets, luggage and a selection of music ranging from Brenda Fasi to the Latin Tango. With Christmas just round the corner the Travelers Collection is a good place to find something meaningful for that hard to buy person.
...beautiful and functional uniquely African inspired home storage solutions
Prayer Hampers priced at: USD$ -USD$108
For further information about the Traveler's Collection visit: http://thetravelerscollection.com