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World Cup Fever: African Inspiration With AfricaAtelier

Jun 11, 2010

by AfricaAtelier handmade and vintage goods

Laura_bio.jpgMilan-based Laura Paglieri, a.k.a. AfricaAtelier, was born and raised in Kenya, where she began collecting and researching antique trade beads and has recently launched her first collection made with these unique finds.

As the FIFA World Cup (football — that’s “soccer” for the Americans!) kicks off today in South Africa, the eyes of the world are on the African continent and it’s time to celebrate what it has to offer. Look beyond the safaris or coffee and you’ll find a vibrantly diverse place with a wealth of arts, crafts and music born from a very strong cultural heritage. Follow me on my journey through the continent by sampling some of my inspirations and discovering the Etsians who are bringing Africa to the forefront.

Bamako High Society: Seydou Keïta in Mali

Image via Ego Design

The African style captured by Seydou Keïta, one of the most celebrated West African photographers, is a depiction of Africa we don’t often see. Keïta portrays the society of his native Bamako, Mali during its independence in the 1950s with all its opulence and flair.

This colourful African Wax Print Bustle Gown by ChopstixWaits has such elegant lines. AfriqueLaChic’s Crystal Wrap Bracelet adds an all-important touch of sparkling glamour, while Growth And Patience Necklace by PeaceImages is both earthy and opulent. LesEnfantsSauvages’s Summer Skirt in African cotton echoes the refined yet bold style in Keïta’s photography.

Bombastic: Kehinde Wiley’s LA/Africa Fusion

Image via Kehinde Wiley

On a more contemporary note, here is true sensory overload or, in the words of Los Angeles based visual artist, Kehinde Wiley, “operatic bombastitude.” His portraits of African-American men blur the boundaries between traditional and contemporary, fusing heroic portrait style with African textile design. This echoes contemporary Africa at its best, vibrant and proud. Here are some Etsians that are also mixing up the traditional African with a modern twist.

Rajulparis‘s African Printed Snood captures Wiley’s strong graphic style and I can imagine one of his subjects wearing this bombastic Cotton Cycling Cap by weststarland. This oversized On Wax Cocktail Ring by PeaceImages is so vibrant and alive that it might just pop right out of your computer screen, and AfricanStreetCouture‘s Eco Friendly Driving Hat is so very dapper.

Kaleidoscope Africa: Samuel Fosso’s Nigeria/Cameroon

Image via art me africa

Samuel Fosso, another prominent African photographer from the 1970s, is one of my inspirations and is really representative of West Africa’s love of color and rich textiles. His kaleidoscopic style is true genius!

For a subtle touch, check out this fabulous Four Bangle Bracelet with African textile patterns by designforest. Lulunyeusi from Zanzibar makes incredible traditional African outfits with wax cloth like this Nollywood Starlet Outfit. A Handmade Tote Bag made with textiles from Ghana by DellaLA would look wonderful paired with summer denim, and FunkyDada‘s African Print Throw Pillow Cover is a dynamic accent piece for your home.

African Journals: Peter Beard in Kenya

Image via Peter Beard

I’ve been a fan of Peter Beard‘s photos and journals of Africa for years. To me his pictures show the raw beauty of this great continent as well as the power and vulnerability of nature and the wildlife that inhabits it.

CrowBiz‘s Giraffe Print on vintage French text captures our tall friend’s poise so beautifully, while Majestic Photography Print by arutherford describes the same romantic and powerful nature as portrayed by Beard. Antiqued Brass Elephant Necklace by chrysdesignsjewelry makes an utterly charming and unique addition to your jewellery collection. And last but by no means least, I challenge you not to desire a cuddle with Giggletree‘s Zebra Soft Toy, handmade in South Africa.

A big thanks to Laura for sharing her African inspiration and Etsy picks with us as the World Cup kicks off! Find some of her beautiful African bead jewellery creations in the Seller’s Items below.

Shop Local Africa | Items Tagged “Africa” | Shop Local Blog Posts

Summer Skirt African coton
Summer Skirt African coton
Handmade Driving Hat Eco Friendly Denim African Wax Print
Handmade Driving Hat Eco Friendly Denim African Wax Print
Handmade Tote Bag
Handmade Tote Bag
Giraffe Print on Vintage French Text - 5 x 7
Giraffe Print on Vintage French Text - 5 x 7
Glistening Gold Swarovski Crystal Wrap Bracelet ...Reserved for 1applejack
Glistening Gold Swarovski Crystal Wrap Bracelet ...Reserved for 1applejack
African wax print patchwork bustle gown
African wax print patchwork bustle gown
Four Bangle Bracelet with African Textile Patterns
Four Bangle Bracelet with African Textile Patterns
Majestic 11x14 Photography Print
Majestic 11x14 Photography Print
Zebra stuffed animal wildlife toy plush
Zebra stuffed animal wildlife toy plush
$25.00 USD
African Print Throw Pillow Cover (Pink Nucleus) 12 x 18 inches
African Print Throw Pillow Cover (Pink Nucleus) 12 x 18 inches


  • jenmaestre

    jenmaestre said 6 years ago

    I was born in Johannesburg. They have some great beadwork in South Africa. Isn't there a South African Artist on etsy who made a beaded motorcycle?

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 6 years ago

    Fabulous finds, I love the vibrant colours of African crafts yet they still retain a certain earthy quality.

  • jenmaestre

    jenmaestre said 6 years ago

    Surely there must be some South African artists to feature? How about this, for example?

  • jenmaestre

    jenmaestre said 6 years ago

    Sorry- the shop is

  • jenmaestre

    jenmaestre said 6 years ago etc, etc. Geolocator.

  • heliocyan

    heliocyan said 6 years ago

    Wonderful, I just love all these African colours!!! :D

  • littlemoandfriends

    littlemoandfriends said 6 years ago

    lovely designs!! I can't wait for the kickoff!!

  • jenmaestre

    jenmaestre said 6 years ago

    This post doesn't have anything to do with the World Cup or South Africa. It is like saying, oh the Lakers and Celtics have a playoff game, but here- look at all this stuff that has nothing to do with Massachusetts, LA, or basketball.

  • AmityUK Admin

    AmityUK said 6 years ago

    Sorry you feel that way jenmaestre. Laura's idea was to sample some of her inspirations and showcase many of the Etsians who are bringing Africa (as a whole) to the forefront.

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 6 years ago


  • AdornMeNow

    AdornMeNow said 6 years ago

    Just awesome!! Looking beyond Discovery Channel and National Geographic is the key!! Great collection of arts and artists!

  • pinkphile

    pinkphile said 6 years ago


  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt said 6 years ago

    Oooooooo thanks for this post! I adore the vibrant colours.

  • MoranArtandQuilts

    MoranArtandQuilts said 6 years ago

    Wonderful items! I've always been drawn to the colors and patterns of the African culture.

  • KylieO

    KylieO said 6 years ago

    The textiles are amazing, thanks for showing us a little piece of Africa

  • Mazsu

    Mazsu said 6 years ago

    They're soo magical and hot!! I love them! :o)

  • jenmaestre

    jenmaestre said 6 years ago

    Amity, I don't deny that Laura didn't pick some beautiful items. It seems to me that this would have been a perfect opportunity to showcase some artists from SA. Africa, as whole- was that a pun?

  • mucar

    mucar said 6 years ago


  • spiritcleanslate

    spiritcleanslate said 6 years ago

    I have gathered beautiful mudcloth and fabrics from Africa, this article takes my breath away when I see such lovely designs and art and history. Thank you...

  • nitca

    nitca said 6 years ago

    i love Africa ! great textiles

  • maggiemaevintage

    maggiemaevintage said 6 years ago

    love color!

  • arlenemarie91

    arlenemarie91 said 6 years ago

    So bright! Love it!

  • undermyfeet

    undermyfeet said 6 years ago

    These are some GREAT Finds. Thanks

  • arsazaria

    arsazaria said 6 years ago

    beautiful fabrics and amazing combination of vibrant colors and prints.. full of energy.

  • lkmccray

    lkmccray said 6 years ago

    Loved learning of these fabulous photographers and artists, as well as seeing Etsian's Africa-inspired work. Thanks so much!

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 6 years ago

    That Samuel Fosso photograph is brilliant!

  • BeCharmedDesigns

    BeCharmedDesigns said 6 years ago

    A pretty collection with vibrant colors!

  • breadandroses2

    breadandroses2 said 6 years ago

    Kehinde Wiley's work was included in the exhibition: Pattern ID at the Akron Museum of Art and closed just last month. Powerful, thought-provoking images. I admire handcrafted African batik/wax prints. The old handmade work is exquisite!

  • MeghanT

    MeghanT said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous collection. I love the rich bright colors!

  • mengseldesign

    mengseldesign said 6 years ago

    Fantastic. As a London based South African, I'm very proud of my heritage and especially love the bold colours and patterns of traditional Xhosa fabric called shweshwe.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 6 years ago

    jenmaestre I think you're being just a little oversensitive. I'm quite sure that no one remotely connected to Etsy would make such a slur... it is, after all, an almost painfully politically correct place! Love the vibrant colours of the fabrics! Talking of political correctness, isn't it about time we had a showcase of the fabulous art inspired or to be found on the Arabic countries? Kelim rugs, Persian ceramics, etc.

  • TopazTurtle

    TopazTurtle said 6 years ago

    Amazing collection of African finds. I love the bold colours and wonderful culture reflected in many of these finds.

  • adrienneaudrey

    adrienneaudrey said 6 years ago

    love the photography!

  • SilverSistersStudio

    SilverSistersStudio said 6 years ago

    Love learning about other cultures. Thank you.

  • vietcrafts

    vietcrafts said 6 years ago

    Great!!! I also have some items made from AFRICAN COW HORN !!!!! Here it is:

  • 12anglesart

    12anglesart said 6 years ago

    Nice bright bold patters!

  • jenniferdennispotter

    jenniferdennispotter said 6 years ago

    I have loved Seydou Keïta's work for so long. Wonderful portrait artist. Thank you for featuring it. That skirt with the bird print is lovely, too.

  • jenniferladd

    jenniferladd said 6 years ago

    Wonderful feature! We just received the referral for our new baby girl from Ethiopia (Yay!), so this couldn't have come at a better time! Thanks!

  • akcArt

    akcArt said 6 years ago

    Beautiful colors and designs! Very eye-catching! Wonderful finds!

  • heidiadnum

    heidiadnum said 6 years ago

    Oh I love this article and these selections! Thanks, Laura! I've had the pleasure of visiting magical Africa (Kenya!) once in 2007 have thought of it almost every day since. Seydo Keita's work inspires me, too. Thanks again.

  • editionbw

    editionbw said 6 years ago

    This story is quite an editorial stretch... you don't have me with football! You do have me with the only 2 items actually from the continent; Lulunyeusi's amazing geometric fabrics (& that smile! Hello Nollywood!), plus a minimalist Zebra. The focus on Africa? Questionable. ps, love Kehinde Wiley's work.

  • akcArt

    akcArt said 6 years ago

    Beautiful colors and designs! Very eye-catching! Wonderful finds!!!!

  • 3FUN

    3FUN said 6 years ago

    Fantastic theme!!! So inspiring...

  • EvenAndy

    EvenAndy said 6 years ago

    I think that the collection is beautiful but I totally agree with jenmaestre. This would have a perfect opportunity to highlight South African artists here on Etsy. If she wanted to focus on the continent, then it would have been nice to feature African Etsians.

  • hellodarlingvintage

    hellodarlingvintage said 6 years ago

    Hello Laura Darling! Great choices, so vibrant! Absolutely love the FunkyDada cushion! xx

  • poppyswickedgarden

    poppyswickedgarden said 6 years ago

    Oh Yes, I'm really loving African inspired prints right now:) I'm working on more creations soon!

  • AdaRosman

    AdaRosman said 6 years ago

    beautiful choices... wonderful collection of colors and designs. YAY!! The WORLD CUP has BEGUN!

  • thepinklocket

    thepinklocket said 6 years ago

    Lovely choices--I love colors!!!!

  • JustBakin

    JustBakin said 6 years ago

    beautiful pictures, colors and art! we are soooo excited for the world cup!

  • sarahhickey10

    sarahhickey10 said 6 years ago

    I made this treasury a couple of weeks back - it fits well with this topic....Tales from Africa... Lovely items and colours.

  • vadjutka

    vadjutka said 6 years ago

    thanks for this post, for bringing this magical continent closer. And I love African fabrics!

  • gizecraft

    gizecraft said 6 years ago

    Its so beautiful and I reall love the colors. :0)

  • betsybensen

    betsybensen said 6 years ago

    Excellent post. I love that Laura shared some of her inspirations as well. Thanks laura!

  • LuRuUniques

    LuRuUniques said 6 years ago

    Wonderful vibrant colors

  • unepromesse

    unepromesse said 6 years ago

    Makes me want to go to Africa. The colors and patterns are beautiful.

  • wulfgirl

    wulfgirl said 6 years ago

    Thanks for posting this....beautiful art!

  • tiemee

    tiemee said 6 years ago

    The colors are so inspirational!

  • PassionFlowerVintage

    PassionFlowerVintage said 6 years ago

    Beautiful Creations!

  • Pearlk2

    Pearlk2 said 6 years ago

    beautiful inspiration

  • cassidycay

    cassidycay said 6 years ago

    My husband and I were in Uganda for three months and fell in love with the wax fabric. I brought home a lot and can hardly wait to get my things out of storage to start sewing with it. The colors and patterns in Uganda were so breath taking and inspiring. Africa is truly a beautiful continent.

  • ARTLuxe

    ARTLuxe said 6 years ago

    Beautiful spirit!

  • electricbluebird

    electricbluebird said 6 years ago

    I was at the lake yesterday and this woman was sitting on the most beautiful African fabric. I was tempted to make her an offer. I love the traditional African fabrics.

  • BlueRoseRetro

    BlueRoseRetro said 6 years ago

    My sister and I used to take African dance with live drumming. What a fabulous way to work out. I think I am being inspired to bet back into it. Thanks for sharing.

  • hamatova

    hamatova said 6 years ago

    Beautiful!!! I love the Colourful of African fabrics!!

  • ShannaMichele

    ShannaMichele said 6 years ago

    I love, love, love African trade beads! Just put some new, colorful listings up in my shop. I found this post very informative and inspiring :)

  • hamatova

    hamatova said 6 years ago


  • blueberryshoes

    blueberryshoes said 6 years ago

    omg i LOVE african tribal fashion

  • ZionLion

    ZionLion said 6 years ago

    So many beautiful creations!

  • poplovedesigns

    poplovedesigns said 6 years ago

    Africa is such an incredible source of stylistic inspiration with so many different aesthetics in one continent. <3 Andrea

  • PeaceImages

    PeaceImages said 6 years ago

    thank you so much for featuring my wax Africa cocktail ring and my coral/brass necklace. ...and I am not from South Africa.. but my African ancestors are with me during everything I create.

  • s3bastien

    s3bastien said 6 years ago

    Beautiful post and even more beautiful items! Thanks!

  • VibrantTrains

    VibrantTrains said 6 years ago


  • thirtyonedesigns

    thirtyonedesigns said 6 years ago

    Such beautiful items!

  • KarensLoom

    KarensLoom said 6 years ago

    beautiful bangles....... beautiful finds... also liked jenmaestre´s African finds too.. thanks a lot........ maybe someone should do an African artists treasury...

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 6 years ago

    beautiful African textiles and patterns.

  • blueskyclouds

    blueskyclouds said 6 years ago

    I've seen one of Kehinde's pieces in our Phoenix Art Museum!

  • Chuletindesigns

    Chuletindesigns said 6 years ago

    great post! I love African textiles. I have a beautiful skirt made of an African print

  • steinschmuckdesign

    steinschmuckdesign said 6 years ago


  • Kankou

    Kankou said 6 years ago

    I am SCREAMING to see my fellow malian SEYDOU KEITA -who is a friend of my dad- up there!!!! I have got a book with his pictures with their style that is so unique to african photography (I myself have few pictures taken in local malian studios next to where we lived in the area of Bamako -the Badialan III) Whoaaaaa! This is like coming across a long lost home movie! See some pictures of Mali in my flickr I miss Mali very much and I am often naming my pieces after areas of there. Africa remains my main inspiration so i am excited to see the World Cup giving the opportunity to see more and speak more of Africa! I think the selection is great: capture the colours, something of the spirit of Africa

  • turskaj

    turskaj said 6 years ago

    the most interesting part in that kind of art for me are colours!!

  • OrangeistheSun

    OrangeistheSun said 6 years ago


  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez said 6 years ago

    Amazing art...thank u for sharing these beautiful designs & ideas!

  • eminw

    eminw said 6 years ago

    While these finds are lovely, like others, I question its relevance to South Africa or the World Cup. While I understand the impulse to bring attention to African art, doing so perpetuates the notion of a monolithic African continent and obscures the fact that Africa consists of 54 individual countries. Instead of blurring the lines between these distinctive nations, this post would have been a great opportunity to highlight South African artists in particular.

  • nowonder

    nowonder said 6 years ago

    Gorgeous collection! Beautiful colors!

  • Kankou

    Kankou said 6 years ago

    Is it an error that "Seydou Keita"'s picture is linked to an external website -not an Etsy shop?! I was trying to see where to purchase the print and I landed on a page outside Etsy...not an Etsy shop

  • VelveteenHabbit

    VelveteenHabbit said 6 years ago

    african beads are some of the oldest and prettiest beads; colorful; weighty and with stories to tell

  • swakdesigns

    swakdesigns said 6 years ago

    ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS creations!! I love them all. I understand a feature for South African artists in particular, but I do like the inclusive feature of African artists in general that Laura has compiled as well. I'm sure that S.A. artists have been included?

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 6 years ago

    Sabona Africa!! :-) What a nice idea this is. I am originally from Zimbabwe, but educated in South Africa. I understand the frustration with not featuring SA artists, but also feel that as this is the first time that the World Cup is being held on African soil, we should all rejoice. Half of the reason that Africa got into the state it did was because people were not willing to share space in the first place. South Africans of today would be totally against not sharing this space with all africans... this is the type of generous people they have grown to become (Thanks to the fantastic example of Madiba). There is enough space for us all! I always try to teach my children to be a little unhappy if they did not make it, but to be thrilled that their friends did make it! Therefore i am happy that my other African friends featured here :-) Congratulations!

  • HoveBeads

    HoveBeads said 6 years ago

    I enjoy working with beads especially when I am mixing them together and coming up with a pattern. My latest piece of work is the beaded motorbike sculpture in store.

  • Vanittas

    Vanittas said 6 years ago

    I love the pattern that Kehinde Wiley uses on his paintings, is so visual rich and warmth.

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 6 years ago

    So... I see you are a newbie Hove Beads...are you from Zimbabwe? Where are you located?

  • VintageScriptPress

    VintageScriptPress said 6 years ago

    Love the collection very nice.

  • greengirlieusa

    greengirlieusa said 6 years ago

    Love it! Beautiful bracelet.

  • HoveBeads

    HoveBeads said 6 years ago

    Hi davisdesignsau! Yes, I am quite new here on Esty, about just over two weeks old. Yes, I come from Zimbabwe, I see from your message that you are also from Zimbabwe! I am located in Johannesburg South Africa. I see you are selling gorgeous jewellery, where in Aus are you located?

  • davisdesignsau

    davisdesignsau said 6 years ago

    HoveBeads... Now out of Sydney :-). can't wait to see what else you list... is bound to be great!! Good luck with your shop!


    JEMIMAJACKMAN said 6 years ago

    Love your selection Laura, My shop features beautiful items in African Wax Prints

  • INKhandcrafted

    INKhandcrafted said 6 years ago

    Amazing! I love the Antique Brass Elephant necklace by Chrysdesignsjewelry. So unique!

  • cocokato

    cocokato said 6 years ago

    very inspiring! The visual art very beautiful too.

  • inDpendant

    inDpendant said 6 years ago

    I love African tattoos and even had let them inspired me in one of my pendants.

  • artsdesireable

    artsdesireable said 6 years ago

    I am a South African married to a Scot and live in Gloucestershire England - we have recently returned from a long stay in the Cape, where my husband found wonderful inspiration for his African Effigy collages - needless to say we are retuning to my beloved country soon. He wears his Effigy mask in the pic!

  • BiqueArt

    BiqueArt said 5 years ago

    I'm so pleased to see such a beautiful aray of African inspired work, thanks!

  • Jaalyi

    Jaalyi from Jaalyi said 2 years ago

    Love seeing all the African inspired clothing and accessories. I always celebrating seeing something beautiful being said about Africa. If you are looking to shop more beautiful and modern African clothes, shop Jaalyi here Thanks!!

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