DAAR Living

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.

Amma: What role do African designers have on the international scene?

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.

Amma: What is the best tip for decorating your favourite 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.

 

Natalie Anderson – the minimalist

Natalie Anderson is renowned for her minimalist but vibrant touch to corporate interiors. Since 2007, her company Design Express, has developed a reputation for converting bland, function-driven environments into an inspiring space of creativity. She works with local and regional artists to design bespoke pieces for her commercial clients. Attached are a few of her completed works.

Amma: What is the signature touch of DESIGNEXPRESS?

Natalie: A minimalist clean backdrop with a contemporary Ghanaian element

Amma: What inspires your design process?

Natalie: I am inspired by materials, colour, manufacturing processes, technology and various cultural styles from Ghana. I am also inspired by anything and everything my senses perceive. Finally as a well-anchored Christian, the Holy Spirit is a creative genius and a constant source of inspiration.

Amma: What difficulties do you face in the interior design industry?

Availability of resources which includes; materials, furniture, technologies, finding good carpenters, welders etc, can be tedious.

Amma: African decor used to have a stereotypical safari look or animal print. What is the contemporary style for someone in search of the ‘African touch?’

This look was defined through the perception of Africa by non-Africans – not by us. A Design Style should be a reflection of one’s cultural identity and influences. Personally, as a New African Woman, I don’t identify with a leopard or elephant. I’m inspired by my rich Ghanaian heritage, my present surroundings and explorations, as well my everchanging vision for contemporary Ghanaian Design.

Amma: How do you find your pieces?

We keep updated with various vendors, sometimes it’s stumbled upon by chance, other times we have a specific product in mind and custom produce it.

Amma: What role do African designers have on the international market?

I can only speak for Ghanaian interior designers- we have a responsibility to place our footprint on the international stage. We have so much to say in terms of design that has been left unsaid. But first, What is Ghanaian Design? We must collectively as designers make a conscious effort to define this in order to promote it.

Amma: Is there a viable market for interior design in Africa?

Definitely. It may not be obvious, but it exists and it’s growing. With encouragement and promotion (just by focusing on good, creative, quality, professional work that testifies) it will continue to grow.

Amma: Do you have a favourite room/place to decorate?

We mostly work on Commercial projects so It’s always fun designing a Breakout area as this is the “play zone” in a very function-driven work environment.

Amma: What is the best tip for decorating a your favourite room?(living room, bedroom, porch etc.)

First, try to visualize how you want to use the space. Ask yourself what you will do in that particular room? Next, pick a concept- define your colour palette and look & feel. This will keep you focused when selecting pieces.

Amma: When you are not designing what do you do?

I’m either at church or attending a church activity or spending time with my very entertaining 5year old daughter