Counting down to Renegade

2014-RCF-Holiday-London-e-flyer

 

Some of you will remember the TV show from when we were growing up – that's not the Renegade that I'm talking about! I'm talking about The Renegade Craft Fair – a curated indie-craft marketplace showcasing the brightest talents in contemporary craft and design.

Renegade returns to London,  Saturday 22 + Sunday 23, November, from 11am – 6pm, at the Old Truman Brewery, located at 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL, London, UK

 

Renegade Craft Fair London Prep Lulu Kitololo Drawings

 

I'm really excited to be joining over 100 select makers. I spent pretty much all of the past weekend working on creations for the fair.

I'm collaborating with Lusungu (Creativity and Noise) again and we're bringing you a collection of screenprinted goods including t-shirts, bags, greeting cards, notebooks, art prints and more. Our theme: "Fly South for Winter". 

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In Pictures: the Monochrome Hues of Winter

White Beaded Necklaces Sidai Designs African Fashion

 

As the weather turns, I find that my usually vibrant colour palette gets subverted by an inclination towards the monochrome. It's clearest when it comes to my wardrobe but, I realised it happening with the photos I was taking too! Here are a few …

 

Sandile Zulu African Art

[Above: sculpture by Sandile Zulu, titled 'Spinal Diagnoses: A Histopathological Case II'. Seen at the 1:54 Art Fair. Top image: Beaded jewellery from Sidai Designs, at the 'Africa Calling' pop-up curated by Shake the Dust which, returns soon] 

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A Summer of Pictures

African Corset Brooklyn Bridge Park NYC

 

Summer is a distant dream for many of us living in the northern hemisphere (climate change aside, that is – only 3 days ago I was out and about in short sleeves!). Indeed, it's now 2 months since I returned to London from my trip to a hot and humid U.S. and, I've been meaning to share the highlights since. What better timing than when I need a reminder of how good it feels to have the sun kiss my appropriately darkened skin.

My 5-week trip was a glorious respite from what has been a very challenging year, in so many ways (more on that another time).

(Corset by Evie Nix)

 

Governors Island Hammock NYC View

 

It was a time for perspective: I find being away from your 'normal' environment great for seeing things clearer.

(Hammock grove at Governor's Island)

 

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New Designs – Your Thoughts Please

Chicken Plumage Rooster Cockerel Drawing Lulu Kitololo Asilia

Market research - cards7

 

Following the great response I've been getting to my 'African Cities' greetings cards, I'm working on a new set of greeting card designs and would love your input. 

I’ve put together a questionnaire which, you can complete in 10 minutes here. As a thank you, I will send you a free piece of art to download for your personal use.

If you’re in the UK and have 20 minutes to spare before or on November 1st, I’d love to take you through the questions, over the phone or via Skype. As a thank you, I will post you a limited edition art print. Simply email me on lulu [@] weareasilia [dot] com with three times that work for you.

Your information
The information that you share will be used to help me determine which greeting card designs to produce and, how best to get them to people who will find delight in them. This information will not be used for any other purpose and will not be shared with anybody outside my company, Asilia Ltd.

Spreading the Joy
Please submit your responses before the 1st of November and, do feel free to share the questionnaire with others who, might enjoy looking at some colourful images and giving feedback too.

Here’s the link to view the designs and complete the questionnaire: http://goo.gl/forms/10B26zBiyt

 

Thank you in advance!

View more work in progress on Instagram

All images copyright Lulu Kitololo/Asilia Ltd.

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Project Stories: ‘African Cities’ Greeting Cards

African Cities Greeting Cards Asilia
  

You may have already gathered my excitement, from Facebook and Instagram, about one of my latest projects – a series of greeting cards I’ve titled ‘African Cities’. Here’s a little secret: they were a bit of an accident. 

 

Context is everything

I was working on calendar designs and I was inspired to embark on a side project, taking abstract elements from the drawings I’d created and reinterpreting classic festive themes. Upon experimenting, I realised the beauty of this approach was that the cards could be seen as holiday-specific but, they could also very much work well for any occasion, any time of the year.

 

African-Cities-Xmas-Foliage-Trees-Asilia

 

This made a lot of sense to me. Growing up in Kenya, I didn't experience white Christmases. Nonetheless, all the greeting cards you could find depicted snowy landscapes, reindeer and other icons rooted in traditions, and places, far far away from us. It was hard to find designs that represented or spoke to our particular experience.

For that reason, these cards fit so well with my general mission to create contextually appropriate alternatives, for those of us from cultures outside the dominant Western one. And for all of us who desire something a little bit different – some diversity to add to the mainstream narratives. 

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Travelling is Learning

 

Inspiration

I wanted to celebrate African cities. My team and I did a lot of visual research, looking at images from different countries. Pictures of architecture, cityscapes, landscapes, people and crafts. I did some initial drawings bringing these elements together.

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Initial Drawings

 

Then, pattern-obsessive that I am, I started to to pick out shapes from all these images and imagine how I could bring them together in a different way. I didn't want to just recreate cityscapes – I wanted to create compositions that had a rhythm and playfulness that would intrigue and delight those who saw them. As I experimented with this process of abstraction, I noticed that a lot of the shapes could be read in different ways by different people.

Take the image below – are those trees, sails or pyramids; are those hills, waves or fish scales?!

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Starlit Asilia 2

 

Bringing them to life

African Cities Greeting Cards Proofs

 

We worked with one of our favourite printers, London co-operative, Calverts, to produce our first run of cards, on 100% recycled paper. We launched them at the 2014 Africa Utopia festival and received a wonderful response. 

Shortly thereafter, we set up a photoshoot. Asilia’s graphic design intern, Nuri Abdur-Rauf, happens to be a great photographer so, she took the reigns.

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Photoshoot

 

I also got to indulge my plant obsession – it made sense (of course) for the art direction that I had in mind. I found some beautiful natural adornments to complement the cards.

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Complementary Plants

 

Everybody on the team had a turn at styling and the whole experience was a lot of fun. It proved how much you can accomplish without fancy equipment and a huge budget (more behind-the-scenes photos here)!

 

African Cities Greeting Cards LowTech Photoshoot

 

I’m still over the moon with how the photos turned out. You can see many of the final selects on Asilia’s BigCartel shop.

 

The celebration continues all month

Throughout the month I’ll be sharing more stories behind the cards, as well as celebrating the African cities that inspired them. This will include a handful of blog posts right here, some Instagram action and almost daily activity on Asilia’s Facebook page.

 

I need your help

I will also be undertaking some market research this month, mainly to inform my future product lines. Would you like to take part? If you’re interested, please get in touch via studio[at]weareasilia[dot]com and I will send you some more information. 

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Photoshoot Composing 

 

Last but not least, I’d love to hear what you think and which cards are your favourites. See them all here.

 

All drawings, illustrations and designs by Lulu Kitololo. Photos by Nuri Abdur-Rauf, Lusungu Chikamata and Lulu.

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Diana Opoti’s 100 Days of African Fashion

100-Days-of-African-Fashion-Diana-Opoti

 

You may have already come across Diana Opoti's 100 Days of African Fashion digital campaign. Well, the challenge is soon coming to an end – today is Diana's 94th day. Find out more about her campaign and see what she's worn, here and on her Instagram feed, @dianaopoti.

Congratulations on a great campaign Diana!

Above, some of my favourites. Designers (clockwise from top left): Sindiso Khumalo, Bestow Elan and  Chichia London.

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Project Stories: Brand Identity Design for Toghal

Toghal-African-Textiles-Inspired-Homeware-Flyer-Design-Asilia

 

I recognise that the story behind the work is often more compelling than the outcome. It’s through these stories that we understand the full context within which something exists. We get an insight into the creator’s intentions and inspirations, as well as into their process. And so a new Afri-love series is born: Project Stories. I hope you enjoy it – let me know what you think in the comments. 

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The brief

About a year ago, Dayo Forster approached my graphic design studio, Asilia, with regards to developing the visual identity for the homeware brand she was launching. 

Toghal was born out of a love for textiles, African heritage and the huge diversity of pattern, form and expression found in traditional African fabrics. Co-founder Dayo wanted to take inspiration from these traditional designs and keep their heritage alive by reimagining them in a fresh, contemporary way.

 

Toghal Traditional African Textiles Reimagined Homeware

 

She came to share her vision and her product with us and I could barely contain my excitement. It is projects like this that I live for – projects whose subject matter resonates with my own passions and interests. 

In this case – designing a fresh and contemporary brand identity that reflected Toghal’s African heritage in an interesting, non-cliché way. 

I love that I can bring my skills and ideas to create design that invites a wider audience to discover, engage with and become patrons of a brand.

 

Toghal-African-Inspired-Homeware-Flyer-Design-Asilia

  

Step 1: Research

After the deal was sealed (we sent a proposal, Dayo and I discussed it, agreements were signed and a deposit was made), the fun truly began!

Dayo had spent a lot of time already working on her brand so, she was able to share plenty of information on the inspiration, the products and the big plans.

Our first step when working on identity design projects is always research. We take all the information we’ve gathered from our client (from a questionnaire and from our initial meetings in person, or via Skype/Google Hangouts/telephone) and then indulge in a serious scour-the-internet session. 

 

Bamum Script Cameroon

 

In this case, we looked at:

  • Brands similar to Toghal – whether in terms of inspiration, mission, values, target audience etc. We looked at  how these brands presented themselves visually.
  • Homeware brands with great design (regardless of where they were based or what their influences were)
  • Different African scripts such as Bamum from Cameroon (pictured above)
  • Colour combinations that were in line with Dayo’s vision for the brand

We then thought of different aesthetic themes that could be appropriate for Toghal. We found examples of great design to illustrate these themes, creating a mood board for each. We sometimes do this by sharing Pinterest boards that we’ve curated (e.g. below). 

Pinterest-Boards-Curated-by-Asilia-Design-Tools

We presented our findings in a visual document so that we could discuss them with Dayo. It is usually through these interactions with clients, during the course of the project, that the best breakthroughs occur.

 

Step 2: Exploration + experimentation

Our next step was to present logo design directions, exploring different ideas, informed by the discussion with our client thus far. This stage of our process is, if you like, our version of the ‘rough sketch’.

Toghal means ‘to sit’ in Wollof and, this inspired a lot of our initial designs. In the final logo design, you can see that the ‘A’ is reminiscent of somebody sat cross-legged.

 

Toghal-Homeware-African-Textiles-Reimagined-Logo-by-Asilia

 

Step 3: Focusing and refining

Next, we developed the direction that most resonated with Dayo – fleshing it out fully to create a comprehensive ‘kit of tools’. This included: the logo, and variations where appropriate; the colour palette; recommended fonts and a typographic style and; design elements that will complement the brand and help to build recognition (e.g. patterns, iconography etc.). 

Toghal-Identity-Design-by-Asilia 

Step 4: Collateral design

We then started thinking about the actual communications materials that we would be designing and applying the identity elements to them. In this case, we designed business cards, letterheads, compliments postcards, tags, stickers for packaging, a promotional flyer/card, PowerPoint presentation template and graphics for social media.

 

Toghal-Traditional-African-Textiles-ReImagined-Homeware-Social-Media-Design-Asilia

 

A couple of rounds of iterations later, we had arrived at signed off materials that both Toghal and Asilia were happy with. We could now prepare the materials for production (preparing artwork for the printing company) or for dissemination (getting graphics ready for Facebook and Twitter). 

 

Toghal-Homeware-Brand-Identity-Design-Stickers-Asilia

(These designs are for stickers. When you receive your Toghal order in the mail, they’ll be on the packaging! A fun way yet relatively easy way to ‘brand’ your packaging)

 

We also put together a visual identity guidelines document which, the Toghal team can use for internal reference when creating documents in-house and which, they can share with other service providers to ensure consistency across all the materials created and that the brand’s integrity is kept intact.

 

Toghal-African-Textiles-Reimagined-Identity-Design-by-Asilia

(A sample page from the guidelines document)

  

Back to the present

We’ve created various promotional materials for Toghal since first working on their identity last year. It’s such a thrill to see our designs in use and great to know they are helping Toghal to reach more and more people. 

 

Toghal-Homeware-Africa-Utopia

(the Toghal stall at Africa Utopia, earlier this month)

 

Find out more about Toghal and browse their beautiful homeware here.
Read my interview with Toghal co-founder, Dayo Forster, here.

If you're interested in collaborating on a brand identity design project, get in touch with me: hello [at] weareasilia [dot] com.

Identity and promotional material designed by Asilia. Photos courtesy of Toghal. Bamum script image from here.

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Buy African: Statement Necklaces

Buy-African-Statement-Necklaces

 

Accessories are this girl's best friend. Drawing them, making them (way back in the day), working with people who design them and of course, wearing them! I love a good pair of dramatic earrings but, when it comes to really making a statement, nothing beats a fabulously bold necklace. These are a few on my wishlist (from top): Pichulik; Nyumbani Design; Mikuti; Pichulik; Dannijo; Christie Brown.

 

Images via the various online shops linked to above. 

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3 Reasons Why I’m Looking Forward to Africa Utopia 2014

Africa Utopia 2014 Southbank Centre London

 

We’re just one week away from a special festival looking at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African diaspora. I’m looking forward to this second edition of the Africa Utopia festival for 3 main reasons:

1. The Great Line-up

My top 5 picks include:

  1. A Brief Look at Dance in Africa – a lecture/demonstration looking at the variety of dances across the continent, using performance, percussion and film. 
  2. Africa Calling – work by new and established designers from Africa and the diaspora spanning furniture, fashion, graphic arts and more.
  3. Africa on the Catwalk – a selection of fashion and accessory designers who originate from or are inspired by the rich cultural heritage of Africa (including Asilia client, Adele Dejak!)
  4. Afropolis: New African Aesthetic – From the catwalk shows of Yves St Laurent to the windows of Topshop and Zara, style-wise, Africa is everywhere. What are the deeper aesthetic and socio-cultural dynamics at work behind this phenomenon and what impact does it have on African regional and cultural identities?
  5. Simply Soweto Encha – a five-piece a cappella group from Soweto township that sings gospel, soul, jazz, doo-wop, r’n’b and celebrates South African oral and dance traditions. I have a super weak spot for a cappella!

There are so many other great events throughout the weekend that I hope to check out. View the full programme here

 

2. Asilia's Social Media Workshop

Following my workshop at the Women of the World Festival, earlier this year, I’ve been invited back to run a special session at Africa Utopia. Come spend an hour with me to explore how to use the web and social media as tools to: 

  • Celebrate and share your experience, perspective and vision with the world
  • Connect with kindred spirits
  • Monetise your activities
  • Contribute more of your passion to your community and the world

More info here.

 

Christmas-Cards-2014-Asilia

 

3. Asilia’s Stall at the Africa Utopia Marketplace

We’ll be launching the first of our brand new holiday line and we’ll also have a limited number of our Tropical Paleo, Miriam Makeba and Frida Kahlo art prints on sale. It’s also an opportunity to place your order for custom portraits. They’re great as gifts and it’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping! Creativity and Noise will be joining us too with a selection of hand screenprinted tees from our collaboration.

Follow me (@lulukitololo) and Asilia (@weareasilia) – on Instagram for a document of the long weekend. If you're in London – come say hello!

 

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Last Week in Pictures: Lines, Stripes and Multi-colour

1-Stripy-Patterned-Woven-African-Bag-Lovedu

 

Glancing at my Instagram feed from the past couple weeks, there's a common theme emerging: lines, stripes and multi-colour! Here's how it went down …

Above: this bag is most definitely on my wishlist. Handmade in Kenya, available from Lov'edu.

 

2-Vibrant-London-Underground-Cables

 

Colourful cables at Whitechapel tube station.

 

3-Tanabata-Fukinagashi-Decorations-Southbank-Centre

 

Tanabata Fukinagashi decorations at the Southbank Centre. Check out the ongoing Festival of Love.

 

4-Art-Deco-Window-Grills-Hackney-London

 

Window grills needn't be boring! I spotted these art deco ones in Hackney.

 

5-Suede-Strips-Tiny-Track-Accessories

I always enjoy seeing how other makers roll so it was a delight to go to the Hackney Downs Studios open studios event last week. Here: suede that Hyun K Shin of Tiny Track turns in to intricate fashion accessories.

 

6-Amazing-Woven-Butterfly-Chair-Wahaca

 

This chair is everything! Have a seat at the Wahaca mexican market eating branch in Waterloo.

 

7-Stripy-Patterned-Ethnic-Bag-at-Blitz-Vintage

As I mentioned in a recent post, about resonance across the global south – this bag is reminiscent of the one at the top of this post but, I have a feeling that this one was made across in Latin America … Or could it be from around the Europe/Asia boundary? Spotted at vintage store Blitz London.

 

8-Woven-Vintage-Chair-Larks-Liverpool

Another vintage store find – these woven-back, red-seat chairs at GASP in Liverpool. 

What's been in your line of vision this week? 

Come join me on Instagram @lulukitololo.

 

* For those of you who noticed, yes, "last week" isn't strictly just last week 🙂
All photos by Lulu Kitololo. Some enhanced with VSCOcam. 

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