Interview with designer Agnes Kuye of Senga K Designs

Senga-K-Designs-Agnes-Kuye

It's interview day again and time for some more artistry from the sisterhood. AFROlicious fashion designer, Agnes Kuye of Senga K designs, shares with us her passion and her beautiful work. I am especially inspired by Agnes's dedication to her creative expression, considering that she also has a full-time job! Proving again that love will take you very far…

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What's your passion?  
My passion is Africa: I eat, sleep & breathe the beautiful continent's richness.

What inspired you to start Senga K Designs?  
Having a 'natural' talent to design/create.

Senga-K-Designs-women

What has been your greatest challenge/obstacle in being an designer? 
Not having enough time. I still work full-time as a Senior Accountant, so all my creations are worked on during every spare minute I have in the evenings & weekends.

How have you overcome it? 
I haven't really, I still work every spare minute god sends, but I absolutely love it so it's a blessed challenge rather than an obstacle.

What has your greatest achievement been? 
Selling my goods around the world and having international success, no matter how small. Interest that comes from far and wide always makes me happy. 

Senga-K-Designs-men

Where will you be in 10 years? 
I have a running joke and say that my sewing machine is my oko (which means husband in Yoruba). I'm not married and have no kids so, as long as my sewing machine remains faithful to me, in 10 years time we will be celebrating our anniversary of creating unlimited AFROLicious goodies and still continue to have national and international success.

How does Africa inspire you? 
Everything about Africa inspires me 1000%. The fashion, food, culture, music, politics & the people in general. Even though I reside in London, I am passionate about Africa, Nigeria especially, being my country of origin. I have fallen in love with African prints, mainly Ankara, hence why they feature heavily in my work. I have definitely inherited Africa's rich spirit in my work – it's  a natural and effortless journey.

Anything else you'd like to share? 
A big thank you to all my clients and friends who have purchased goods from me over the years. The end product of selling is a blessing, but there is no better feeling than to have the  ability to create/design and have people appreciate what you do. It's awesome!!! 

Senga-K-Designs-Rianne

Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year? 
Yes, I make my AFRO accessories throughout the year – all unique one-off pieces. I also sell at various day and evening events during summer. Please check my links below and watch out for new AFRO goods and news about events. Clients can send me their email address at senga33 [at] excite [dot] com and join my mailing list.

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Connect with Senga K Designs through the following channels:
Email – senga33 [at] excite [dot] com
Facebook – Senga Kuye
Facebook page – Senga K Designs Afro/Euro Street Fashion Rocks
Website –  www.wix.com/agneskuye/senga-k-designs
Mobile – 07958 647 022

Images courtesy of Senga K Designs: Creative Designer – Agnes Kuye, Photography – Brian Would, Models – Damy Streetzx and Ri'anne Jones. Top image is of the designer herself, Agnes Kuye.

 

TGIF! It’s a Felaxtravaganza!

Fela-Kuti-Books

Following yesterday's theme* of activism through the arts, today we're celebrating the phenomenal Olufela Olusegun Oludotun Ransome-Kuti. Fela would have been 72 today and though he is no longer with us in body, his legacy is firmly with us forever. Musician, activist, rebel – the man has inspired music genres (Afrobeat), politics (through his music, through his persistent attacks on the shortcomings of the Nigerian government and through his own political party, Movement of the People) and a wealth of artistic expression in a multitude of media. Today, we celebrate Fela Anikulapo (the man who carries death in his pouch) Kuti through showcasing just a slice of his creative influence.

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Books

This week, Carlos Moore's book, Fela: This Bitch of a Lifeis being reissued with cover art by Lemi Ghariokwu, Fela's faithful album artist.

Another great book catalogues an exhibition of art inspired by Fela, held in New York in the early 2000s: Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

(See the book covers at the top of the post).

Visual art

Fela-Kuti-albums

Fela album art is prolific! I have not seen one dull album cover. Instead they evoke the wonderful madness, expressiveness and dynamism of the artist (Clockwise from top left: He Miss roadOriginal Sufferhead/ITTShuffering and Schmilling/No Agreement and Shakara/London Scene).

Below are some more recent artistic works inspired by the legend:

Fela-Kuti-art

Painting on the left by Barkley Hendricks, used on the cover of the Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (image found on Nasher Museum Blogs). Black President poster found with this BBC article. Cupcakes seen on Experimental Etc. – check the site out for a Fela discography.

Music
There are compilations, such as Black President and tributes, such as Red Hot and Riot

Fela-Kuti-compilations-and-tributes
Michael-Jackson-meets-Fela-Kuti

There are experiments such as the Michael Jackson meets Fela video that you can watch on LYSERGICFUNK (image above also from LYSERGICFUNK).

Afrobeat-Souljazz-Orchestra-Antibalas

And then there's afrobeat (images above, on the left: Freedom no go die by The Souljazz Orchestra; on the right: Security by Antibalas).

Performance

… And then there's the award winning Broadway play, Fela! (see the site for more images).

Fela-on-Broadway

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I read a great article earlier this week by activist Micah White on Adbusters. He suggests: 

"[A] political revolution [is] a change to the leadership of a society that does not impact the social structures, mores or power relations. A social revolution, on the other hand, is one where the political regime is not the focus of struggle because what is at stake is the very way of being, living and experiencing the world."

It seems that Fela was out to create a political revolution but, the wide reach of his music, its universal themes of social justice and the life of the man himself, may just have created a social one!

I leave you this Friday, with the video of one of my personal favourites, "Zombie":

 

 

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[*And to be fair, the theme of this blog and my life!]

Defiance by Design: Chaz Maviyane-Davies

Chaz-Maviyane-Davies

As a student, it was difficult to learn about African graphic designers, let alone ones concerned with channelling the power of design for good. I remember the excitement I experienced when I finally discovered Chaz Maviyane-Davies.

Here was somebody creating striking, clever and provocative work. Challenging several perceptions at the same time:

Continue reading “Defiance by Design: Chaz Maviyane-Davies”

Inspired: Boucherouite rugs from Morocco

Boucherouite-rugs

I was browsing Design*Sponge when I saw these beautiful Boucherouite rugs from Morocco. Made from leftover scraps of fabric and other materials, as wool became more rare and expensive, the result is spontaneous and unique designs. Read more about them and see more images here.

This reminds me of a great Ted Talk where researcher Charles Leadbeater talks about how innovation usually takes place where resources are too scarce for traditional solutions to work*. Afrigadget is another great example of the power of ingenuity where resources aren't always abundant.

*It's a fantastic talk about reimagining education and I highly recommend giving it a view!
Images from Brix Picks 

Quote of the week & a question for readers

Blooming-cabbage

“If you really want to understand a culture, don’t look to the things people argue about but, instead try to understand the things they take for granted.”

Lawrence Lessig, quoted in Bruce Mau's book Massive Change: A Manifesto for the Future Global Design Culture

If we were to generalise and talk of one African culture, what things do we take for granted?
 

Self, love and enterprise: Asilia

We-are-Asilia

Last week, weareasilia.com launched. The product of a successful working partnership with a friend, a commitment by both of us to do what we love and, in many ways, the cumulation of our respective experience, learning and ambitions up to this point.

My favourite part of launch preparation, aside from knowing that my passion for creating and communicating is what will sustain me, was putting together our credo. Defining our own rules and creating the opportunity for ourselves to do things differently.

From our 'informal' work culture … our team resides in different locations with 2 out of 3 of us working from home. That means that we have incredible flexibility, making it easier to balance work and life. My business partner and I probably do work longer hours than we did when employed but, because we enjoy it and because it's on our own terms, it feels less like work and more like an enjoyable pastime. To our firm stance when it comes to working with people who share our values. We have already had to turn down clients who we felt were not considerate enough for us to be able to successfully work together in achieving their goals. It was a difficult decision but, when we weighed the stress we'd have to go through against the value the experience would add to us – as people and as a business – it wasn't worth it.

One thing I do wonder about is when the test will come that will threaten to compromise our values and our approach. I try to imagine what form it will take. Will it be a project that will seem too good to refuse, only for us to discover the hidden costs to our wellbeing (and that of others)? Will it be the otherwise amazing client who expects to see us in suits?

I am reminded of one of my favourite quotes: "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes."

Thoreau testifying that not staying true to yourself may have unsavoury consequences.

Asilia is just that. An opportunity for me to be myself and give others the opportunity to assert themselves, spread their gifts and share their passions with the world. There is a school of thought that believes that enterprise, business, is the most effective path to development. I'm inclined to agree with the proviso that we're talking about considered and considerate business. Considerate to all involved: staff, suppliers, customers, clients, users, contractors, family, environment and never forgetting, self. Then we're looking at the whole picture of development.

Imagine a continent of self-loving, considerate and enterprising Africans …

 

Images: the Asilia team – Kevin, Lulu and Andrew. Illustrations by Lulu, copyright Asilia.

Swaziland Independence Day

Swazi candles

The Kingdom of Swaziland celebrates its independence today.

Interesting fact: Traditionally, the Swazi king reigns along with his mother who serves as the spiritual and national head of state with power of equal measure. However, now the role is merely symbolic.

I remember seeing some beautiful candles in Nairobi, Kenya, that were imported from Swaziland. I came to find out that Swazi candles are actually world-famous. Made by hand, no two candles are ever the same. The images below show some candles made by Swazi Candles.

Continue reading “Swaziland Independence Day”

Maker Faire Africa: 27th – 28th August, Nairobi

Maker-Faire-Africa-2010

The anticipated Maker Faire Africa takes place this Friday and Saturday in Nairobi, Kenya.

The programme sounds exciting with Solar Makers, Crafting Peace and Business 101 workshops, along with Show & Tell sessions, live matching as well as an exhibit and unconference that run throughout both of the days. The ethos of the event is captured well in the following excerpt from the program:

"The spirit of Making is all about breaking things apart to better undertand them (and build something even more useful), so that’s what we want you to do with our faire: make it what you need."

Can't make it to Nairobi this week? You can still help Match a Maker and give inventors an opportunity to take their work to the next level.

Be sure to check out this interview with the Maker Faire Africa founder, Emeka Okafor. Maker Faire Africa aims to question: “How do we regain our creativity? How do we redefine what we mean by a society that is advanced?”

Indeed that's the kind of interrogation Afri-love exists to champion: how do we use our unique gifts to chart our own paths, appropriate to our unique needs and aspirations?

Images above by Erik Hersman (aka @whiteafrican) except for the fan image which is courtesy of Maneno.org. For more pictures, check out Maker Faire Africa on Flickr