Buy African: Last-minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas Buy African Afri-love

 

It’s less than a week to go until Christmas so, ordering your gifts online is now pretty much a gamble. If the thought of braving the madness shops this weekend makes you want to crawl into a dark hole, fear not – I’ve got some ideas that will hopefully keep you in the festive spirit.

The gifts here are all things that you can buy, right up until Christmas Day. They are organised by interest so, hopefully you’ll be able to find something appropriate for all the people on your list – whatever they fancy!

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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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Reporting back from A Tropical Christmas

  Mindful-Maps-interpretation-of-A-Tropical-Christmas

I anticipated, I wished and then I … thoroughly enjoyed!

Last Saturday, I spent a wonderful day at The Drift Bar in London, celebrating creativity and good company at the Asilia and Afri-love Tropical Christmas celebration. 

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A Tropical Christmas wishlist

It's been relatively quiet on the blog as I prepare for this Saturday's Tropical Christmas event in London. I'm really looking forward to a day of catching up with friends and collaborators, old and new, in beautiful surroundings. I've had a peep at most of the designs that will be available to purchase on the day and this is my preliminary wishlist …

Adele-Dejak-bags-and-jewellery

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A Tropical Christmas (in London): Saturday 17th December

I haven't celebrated the festive season at home (Kenya) since the year 2000. Instead, I've gathered with similarly displaced friends and enjoyed eclectic celebrations comprising of the best from all our worlds. Pot-luck Christmas dinners where bread sauce and mac n' cheese sit next to bread fruit and mtori; music spanning from across the tropics and; … dancing, always.

Regardless of the cold and sun-starved winter and despite being far from family, these holidays have been fantastic because I've been in such good company. This year, Afri-love and Asilia, the creative agency I co-own, are hosting a Christmas celebration in this same spirit.

A Tropical Christmas

Asilia-and-Afri-love-present-A-Tropical-Christmas-500px

A celebration of creativity and good company, a Tropical Christmas will be a laidback afternoon to: unload some of the holiday stress; get some last minute Christmas shopping done, away from the hustle and; support quality African and African Diaspora design.

You can expect:

Don't forget to bring some business cards for the "collaboration board" – share your passion and make exciting connections for 2012!

The Details

Date: Saturday 17th December
Time: 12:00 – 8:00pm
Venue: The Drift Bar, Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY

If you're on Facebook, you can RSVP via the event page. There's no need to RSVP though, just come along.

Looking forward to seeing you!