A group of African designers are taking centre stage as they make their debut in the US. Given a platform through African Lookbook, they are able to showcase their designs, exposing their creativity to a wider and more diverse audience and market.
African Lookbook is an online shop, co-founded by Aaron Kohn and Phil Sandick that was launched earlier this month. The shop encompasses African designs and creations including furniture, apparel, accessories and books. Featured is designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s limited edition range of knitwear, made of locally sourced merino wool woven into Xhosa patterns. The jerseys seek to provide Xhosa boys with expressive and meaningful clothes when they pass the right into manhood.
Designer Mike van Heerden, who won the Most Creative Stand Award at Design Indaba 2012, challenges the concept that graphic design needs to be digital. The shop sells his "Building Blocks of Africa", a creation made out of handmade wood pieces that fit together in a puzzle form to reveal the shape of Africa.
With the launch of African Lookbook Kohn and Sandick shot a look book "Postcards from Africa" which features the creations being sold in the shop. The postcards are free and deliver a little bit of Africa into your mailbox.
The goal of African Lookbook is to broaden the horizons for African designers. Alongside their products sold in the shop, they are able to give an explanation of how and why their designs came about. This allows for oral histories of Africa to be told and made known around the world. Kohn and Sandick work with a wide spectrum of people in order to source the most cutting edge products. The founders furthermore offer a curation service where they are able to place African designers in contact with the right people and places for their original designs and collections.
The relationships Kohn and Sandick formed at Design Indaba over the years serve as the inspiration behind the project. This highlights why Design Indaba does what it does and strives for a better world through creativity.