Buy African: Stitch Sainte Luce Embroidered Fashion and Home Furnishings

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I managed to escape my stand at the Women of the World festival marketplace last weekend, to have a look at all the other beautiful crafts on offer. I was particularly mesmerised by one incredibly vibrant table – the photo above represents merely a quarter of the space!

 

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Stitch Sainte Luce produces hand-embroidered belts, bracelets, cushion covers, tablet and e-reader cases, bags, purses, cards and more. 

 

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Interview with Screenprinter, Lusungu Chikamata of Creativity and Noise

Lusungu-Chikamata-Creativity-and-Noise-Interview-African-T-shirt-Guggenheim-1

 

Today’s interview features screenprinter, Lusungu Chikamata, founder of Creativity and Noise. It’s a great story of persistence and resourcefulness – I think sometimes we think everything has to be perfect before we can begin when actually, just getting started gets you to perfection faster! Find out how Lusungu learned a brand new skill and launched a creative enterprise, all alongside his day job.

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Invitation to Asilia’s Open Studio – 5th March 2015

Asilia Open Studio March 2015

 

I moved office a few months ago and my Asilia team and I are finally opening up our doors to welcome our clients, collaborators and friends.

You're invited!

Drop by our new studio in Brockley, London, any time between 4pm and 8pm on Thursday 5th March.

You’ll get to see some of our work and enjoy some nibbles, and of course, our company.

Some of my art will also be on display, including a mural in progress. Lusungu will be showcasing his screenprinted goods and if we're lucky, there just might be a demo and opportunity to try the technique for yourself!

The address is:

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In Pictures: The Road to Renegade (+ An Epic Giveaway)

Botanical Art Print Mini Creativity and Noise Lulu Kitololo

 

The Renegade Craft Fair London is 3 days away and Lusungu and I have been busy getting our ‘Fly South For Winter’ collection ready! It’s inspired by our motherland love and a yearning for the tropics in these wintry times. All the designs are hand-drawn by me and then hand screen printed by Lusungu (aka Creativity and Noise).

 

Fly South For Winter Creativity and Noise Lulu Kitololo squeegees

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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

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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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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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