script> Africa Moto: 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Discover: Le Jardin des Biehn, Morocco


                                                      {Photos: Le Jardin des Biehn}

Hello, friends! I recently discoved the charming boutique hotel, Le Jardin de Biehn in the April-May 2011 issue of Cote Sud and May issue of Elle Decoration and instantly fell in love.

Located in the heart of Fez, Morocco, Le Jardin des Biehn, is a luxurious riad that was formely the summer palace of a Moroccan Pasha which was lovingly renovated by owners Michel and Catherine Biehn, a French expat couple.  Michel Biehn wears many hats, he is an interior designer, textile collector, avid traveler and author of several books about lifestyle, cuisine and culture.

Set in a large Andalusian garden, the hotel consists of nine suites, a gallery, hamman (a traditional Moroccan sauna), spa and restaurant (Fez Cafe). Each of the eclectic suites are all uniquely decorated with luxuriously rich fabrics, patterns and textures intermingled with rich Moroccan design (tiles, furniture and architecture) giving each room its own character.

Morocco is definitely on my list of dream destinations, the culture, food, textiles, architecture and scenery are so inviting..being a short plane ride away from Bamako definitely puts it high on my possible vacation spots.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Shop Love: Mahatsara

I discovered Mahatsara, a Paris-based boutique filled with charming ethical and fair trade products from southern Africa. I spent some time browsing their lovely product mix for homewares, fashion accessories and gifts: from colorful soft toys and fun luggage tags to lovely cushions, rustic baskets and beautiful ceramics. The boutique was created by Catherine de La Poype, Christophe HillĂ© and Pierre-Emmanuel Chartron, who are all passionate about Africa, sustainable development and contemporary design. Above are some of my favorites, that I would love to have in my home. Don't you just love the embroidered bears? I think they would make such wonderful baby gifts? You can find out more here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Designer Inspiration: Sig Bergamin

I absolutely adore the  beach house of designer Sig Bergamin and Murilo Lomas in Trancaso, Bahia in Brazil  featured in the April 2011 issue of  Elle Decor. Everything about this cozy place is just gorgeous from the artwork, and the furniture to the use of global traditional textiles. I simply love how the casual beach house mixes beautifully different styles, colors, textures and patterns and yet manages to stay light and balanced and not over the top.

 I found a lot of African elements in there including a Nigerian beaded armchair and Kenyan masks in the living room, African quilts and pillows in a guest room, and an ottoman, rugs and upholstered indigo chairs in another guest room.

Isn't it just fabulous, so much inspiration here? You can see the rest of their house over at Elle Decor.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Artist Love: Gerard Sekoto

House District Six oil on canvas c. 1943
The Artist's Mother and Stepfather oil on canvas board c. 1946

Three Seated Women oil on canvas c. 1946
The Milkman

Have a look at the beautiful and colorful artwork of  the late Gerard Sekoto,  a self-taught pioneer of modern South African art and also a musician. Sekoto rendered his work in a variety forms and experimented with a number of techniques. I originally discovered his work through a beatiful book of his art that a friend gave me called "Gerard Sekoto: My Life and Work", which documents his work in South Africa and later in self-imposed exile in France.

Sekoto's paintings, particularly the early ones, are intricate observations of his life and surroundings, that capture human life amazingly.  His paintings of the townships of Sophiatown, District Six and Eastwood  are rich visual historical records of a now extinct way of life. All three areas were bulldozed in the fifties and sixties under apartheid South Africa. 

There are so many beautiful pieces that I would love to have them all particularly those from his time in Eastwood (a girl can wish, right?)You can see more of his work here and here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Color Inspiration: Indigo blue

I'm finding myself drawn to indigo blue lately as I work on product development for Sunbird Collection. I should share something personal with is my favorite color. Indigo blue is such a big part of traditional textiles here in Mali, and a number of ethnic groups such as the Tuareg, Dogon and Bobo use indigo for dyeing, weaving and crafting. I couldn't resist sharing these finds with you.  Hope you enjoy!

(via Le Ndomo, Tensira, ABC Home, Hand Eye, Aboubakar Fofana)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy Friday + Niarela Rue 420

These lovely goodies are the work of Bamako-based French designer Mariane Montaut of Niarela Rue 420. I found out about her when saw her work at the "So Masiri" exhibit at the Musee National here in Bamako last year. I was immediately drawn to the fabulous colors of her collections and her modern take on the traditional Malian bogolan hand dyeing process. I decided I needed to find out more, and visited her workshop in Niarela to meet her and do a bit of shopping.

I found Mariane to be a lovely and down-to-earth designer, making lovely hand woven bedding, pillows and modern furniture. I also found out that she co-owns with her husband  a beautiful eco-lodge called Kangaba just outside of Bamako, that is a perfect weekend getaway.

Above are some of the pieces from Niarela Rue 420 that I am loving that will most definitely infuse your home with color. Visit here to see more, I hope you will love it too.

Have a great weekend everyone!

{images: my own and

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Discover: Shompole Lodge

Located in southern Kenya on a private conservancy overlooking the Great Rift Valley, Shompole lodge is a conservation minded eco-lodge that is anything but rustic. It's a romantic and chic getaway "off-the-beaten" path that is just perfect for a honeymoon or romantic holiday.

Founded and designed  by Anthony Russell, a Kenyan native and founder of Art of Ventures, this luxury lodge not only supports and works with the local community it also protects wildlife at the same time.  The local Maasai community gets 30% of the proceeds made from the lodge and conservancy, which goes to improve their infrastructure and raise their standards of living. I'm truly impressed by this model of community partnership, so inspiring...

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