Graçe à Senanu Arkutu, the gaudiness typical of African home accessories has been infused with a refreshing dose of simplicity. DAAR Living, the interior furnishing company that Senanu created in March 2013, pays homage to the eclectic beauty of African heritage, but it is her dedication to the fine details of art which make her pieces worthy of envy. DAAR Living is based in Accra and it provides accessories and interior styling services to the African of the World and the World in love with Africa.
Amma: How did you arrive at the name DAAR living?
Senanu: ‘Daar’ in Arabic means ‘home’ and in the case of Dar Es Salaam (Tanzania – where I was born), Dar means ‘haven’. The DAAR Living brand makes you ‘feel at home’, it is ‘warm’ and African – in all its multi-layered glory, hybrid in it’s colonial European and Arabic influences.
Amma: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Senanu: This continent is so creative, innovative, always making something out of nothing. There is inspiration all around. More specifically, fashion inspires me.
What kind of challenges do you face?
Senanu: Sourcing, quality control and artisans delivering on time.
Amma: How do you find your pieces?
Senanu: Searching for functional art in Africa and designing my own.
Senanu: I believe our designers have always had a huge but silent and sadly un-paid role. This is the Continent of beginnings, pre-historic art and functional design – and we have continued to design. Our designs inform the international market, are copied, refined and manufactured elsewhere and packaged and marketed by others. We need to find a way to continue to be the designers but have that role be visible and prized in the international market.
Amma: Is there a viable market for interior design in Africa?
Senanu: It is certainly growing along with the African Renaissance and development of the property and hospitality sectors.
Amma: African interior design used to have a stereotypical safari look or animal print how things are changing?
Senanu: That is not changing as fast as I would like it to but it is and will continue to change as the whole concept of TINA and ‘the Afropolitan’ grow and interior brands like DAAR Living are born in countries where wild animals and ‘safari’ are not the norm and there is no huge tourist sector based around the ‘safari’ experience to cater for.
Amma: Do you have a favourite room/place to decorate?
Senanu: The living or sitting room.
Senanu: Be yourself – the living room – is where we welcome friends, sit, entertain, laugh and make people comfortable… It should be warm and it should reflect your true character rather than be a showpiece.
When you are not designing (pieces) what do you do?
Senanu: Decorating or re-decorating physically or mentally, as I sit in spaces; and thinking of ways to develop and grow DAAR Living. Also… having a great life lesson conversation with a close friend over a delicious meal in a warmly designed space with music that makes you smile playing in the background.