May 26, 2021

Akosua Afriyie-Kumi Weaves Change with Pendant Fixtures

“Our goal is to aid in the economic livelihoods of refugee artisans,” the designer, pictured here, shares. Photography courtesy of AAKS.

Ghanaian fashion designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi is the founder of covetable woven handbag brand AAKS. Now, she introduces a new weaving project—part of the UNHCR Made51 initiative—to protect and support refugee artisans in neighboring Burkina Faso. Her pendant fixtures seek to preserve the basketry techniques of Northern Mali’s Tuareg community, of whom some live as refugees in Burkina Faso. The basket lids Tuareg and Fulani/Peulh women make to cover food platters are re­imagined as pendant shades with diameters ranging between 10 and 21 inches. There’s Oude, Bella, and Ihaya, all of which combine colorful organically dyed cotton yarn and natural straw. Ihaya’s large, flat planetary shape suggests boundlessness, a symbolic projection of the Tuareg life and travels through the Sahara. It’s finished off with a bronze cup, hammered by hand in a pattern that is the trademark of the individual artisan. “We want to create well-designed objects,” Afriyie-Kumi says, “that embody original ideas.”

Photography courtesy of AAKS.
Photography courtesy of AAKS.
The Oude. Photography courtesy of AAKS.
The Bella. Photography courtesy of AAKS.

The Ihaya. Photography courtesy of AAKS.

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