In creating innovative products, our Design Studio seeks to uncover the core essence inherent in ancient symbols, icons, patterns and shapes.
Our design process begins with the deconstruction and manipulation of the selected precedent item to uncover aspects of its hidden core essence. Resulting variables are then reinterpreted, modified, reshaped and recomposed into multiple series of graphic elements that go to form the basis for new patterns and new designs. In turn, these new patterns are re-scaled, assigned new color attributes, new placements, etc, to eventually result in unique modern products that are bold, comprehensible, and yet pay homage to their origin.
The AfriMod method is akin to a movement from the present to the future through the past (trado‑cultural futurism)… a process of coaxing and evolving past cultural design narratives through the lens of the present to arrive at a future consensus that is evocative, yet relevant to modern global aesthetic.
Below is a selection of AfriMod projects showing progressions from inception to completed products.
The Adudu Basket Project
This project was inspired by the traditional Hausa “adudu” basket. These are large storage baskets that are hand-crafted with doum palm fibers by traditional Hausa weavers in Kano, Nigeria. The form is a u-shape… wide at the top and tapering down to a slightly narrower base on a two-inch footing… and it is topped with a wide, slightly domed lid. The weave pattern is a tightly woven circular coiling motion over horizontal fibers.
Below: The traditional precedent Hausa basket. AfriMod applied a simplification process, removing extraneous elements from the design (left, center, right).
The project objective is to infuse a modern sensibility to the adudu aesthetic without losing the core essence of its roots.
AfriMod team played with the scale and contour of the adudu basket to evolve a more rounded configuration. The resulting design and construction focused on infusing a spirit of minimalist modernity to the basket while retaining the essence of traditional Hausa aesthetics.
AfriMod redesign features a reconfigured contour and shape… the basket footing is eliminated and its contour is rounded to mimic an orange in one instance and an apple in another.
Staying connected to its origin, the resulting products, “AfriMod Naturals,” were hand-woven by traditional Hausa artisans in Kano, Nigeria.
The original AfriMod Naturals products:
Later variations on the AfriMod Naturals products:
AfriMod Fula Project was inspired by the spectacular geometric and abstract motifs that adorn Fulani wedding blankets. The design and weave of Fulani blankets is uniquely Sahelian. It employs an intricate combination of centuries-old geometric and abstract motifs to result in elegant tapestries that are timeless. The range of design elements include lines, spots, triangles, lozenges and chevrons with occasional colorful pom-poms and tassels added as embellishments.
These beautifully crafted blankets are traditionally given as wedding presents or as part of the dowry during marriage celebrations and are cherished as very important possessions of new brides.
At AfriMod, we extracted the core elements of Fulani design sensibilities. We paid attention to their use of lines, dots, triangles, lozenges, chevrons, colors, etc. We examined how they used geometric and abstract features as storytelling tools.
And, working with these elements, we focused on infusing the essence of Fulani exaltation of love and marriage into our blanket, bedding, throw pillow and shower curtain designs.
Final Fulani-inspired woven cotton throws designed by AfriMod Studio.
The design concepts were further developed and modified for shower curtains.
Throw pillow designs:
Modern Redesign of Seven Adinkra Ideographic Symbols
Adinkra are ideographic symbols or pictograms that flourished in ancient Ghanian textiles and gold weights designs. The symbols represent concise concepts, sayings, or proverbs that express the traditional wisdom of the Akan (Asante) people and have been handed down from generation to generation. [original symbols below]
Nkyinkyim: adaptation and dynamism
In this redesign, we paid particular attention to curves and flow of line in the original symbol. To capture the essence of adaptation and dynamism in this symbol, AfriMod redesign is a free-flowing rendition of effortless curves and dynamic uninterrupted lines to represent movement in the journey through life.
Hye Won Hye: Adinkra symbol for endurance
That which seems insurmountable is not necessarily so, with endurance all is possible. From a design perspective, this symbol is reminiscent of a butterfly. AfriMod coupled this visual representation with the Akan traditional concept of endurance and evolved a design that relies on positive versus negative spaces to create a sense of heaviness (problems) versus lightness (solutions).
Adinkra symbol that stresses contribution to community… because in unity lies strength. AfriMod initial redesign focused on enhancing the contours of the original symbol to highlight two negative spaces with the objective of visually emphasizing unity between the two elements. The team then expanded on the concept of community and evolved an additional design that incorporates a stylized human genome rendition to the original Akan design… thus infusing Akan-inspired social symbolism on a wider global scale.
The concept of the omnipotent who knows and sees everything. A concept that implies a social contract to accept and obey God in exchange for the spiritual and psychological strength to draw upon in times of need to dispel fear. The design team interpreted the role of Gye Nyame in Akan tradition as similar to the role of the Thomas Hobbes Leviathan. As such, the redesign needed to be a bold, larger than life visual metaphor for power and strength.
The original Adinkra symbol of four linked cowrie shells representing unity and togetherness is further abstracted and personified. In this reinterpretation, the humanized cowries interlock hands to symbolize unbreakable bonds forged between us and those we love.
Dwennimmen: Adinkra symbol for strength… and the human capacity to be courageous.
This redesign captures the essence of strength with multiple graphic elements. These include rendering the ram horn elements to invoke a sense of sharpened weaponry. These are subsequently inverted and superimposed on stylized graphic text to create a dynamic sense of motion. Additional versions also retained the sharpened weaponry approach but to capture the spirit of humility, several of these were crafted to mimic flowers shielding the ram horns.
Design inspiration is derived directly from the concept of revisiting the past to extract knowledge and wisdom to remake the future. AfriMod redesign employed the use of contrasts between positive and negative components to depict the action of reaching back into the past. In this case, the negative space in the center is elongated and emphasized to mimic the action and depth of reaching back.
Art prints & lifestyle products featuring AfriMod studio redesigned Adinkra symbols:
Africa in All Project
Our core inspiration for this project was derived directly from the iconic grit and sheer tenacity of brand Africa itself. A brand that silently remains relevant in the shadows but is a core component in an interconnected world.
To capture the essence of this brand, we relied primarily on a dominant black background overlaced with subdued white lettering. The outline of the continental image is widened and infused with a colorful necklace of flags of multiple nations to tell a story of resilience and inclusiveness. This unifying element adds a bold color contrast to the background. The resulting design is bold, edgy, colorful and iconic.
“There is an image, an idea of Africa that lives deep in human imagination. Its form often transcends the power of the word and its profile lies under layers of conscious retrieval. It is alive within each one of us on a primordial level, inexplicable yet undeniable.”~ Maya Angelou