DECO had the pleasure of catching up with Senanu Arkutu, the creative mind behind DAAR Living, an interior design and styling store in Ghana. Her passion for design radiates as she speaks about the multicultural design elements in Africa…
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up in different countries in Southern, Eastern and Western Africa and after a solid pan-African childhood I studied primarily in the UK and France. After an over 10-year career in International Development and Reproductive Health, working for organisations such as the United Nations I took a leap of faith and decided to become a creative entrepreneur.
I needed an artistic and more colourful way to express myself. I wanted to see more African inspired interior design in Africa and beyond. With the continent’s socio-economic concerns in my blood, I also desired to see Africa’s immense creativity and hand-crafted products gain recognition, go mainstream and play a larger role in building sustainable family livelihoods and global markets.
Tell us about your store, DAAR Living. We opened our first store almost 4 months ago. It is a small store on Jungle Avenue in an area called East Legon in Ghana’s capital, Accra. East Legon is a primarily residential area that is fast becoming a retail and café/restaurant hub due to a rise in the number of international schools, organisations and local companies in the area.
DAAR Living sells handcrafted home-ware from all over the continent. Well-made, everyday items born from traditional handicrafts from all over Africa are displayed in a contemporary space and in a clean and organized manner so that their beauty can be easily seen and appreciated. It is my response to wanting to see African art and craft being recognised and treated as design and becoming part of mainstream home décor, everywhere.
You’re also an interiors styling firm – what services do you offer? Interior decorating, set decorating, staging, interior design consulting and upholstery services.
How would you describe the design scene in Ghana? Apart from within fashion which is well established in Ghana and recognised internationally the product/ industrial/ interior design scene in Ghana is at neo-natal stage. Practically non-exisitent.
We have designers and there are amazing designs being churned out everyday in rural and urban areas of Ghana coming from a very rich and diverse Ghanaian and West African heritage.However, the organisation and coming together of these creators, valuing their work as a nation and continent, helping artisans improve on their craft and learn from each, making the economic environment conducive to local art-businesses and industries remains to be done seen.
What kind of support do you receive from locals? Local artisans produce our designs; we partner with local businesses for events and we of course recruit staff from a local pool and we have local as well as international clients.
What is your main source of inspiration? LIFE – what is around me. Also fashion.
Three words or a quote that best describes your style of décor? My personal style: Pan-African – eclectic (if there is such a thing)
We met you at the Design Indaba 2017 – what were some of your highlights from the Indaba? Some of my highlights were definitely seeing the work of and meeting young African artists and designers! Notably: Osbourne Macharia (photographer), Nkuli Mlangeni (rug and textile designer), Yinka Illori (up-cycled furniture), and Jabu Newman (film director/ producer).
BUT to see – in the flesh – and hear the great Archbishop Desmond Tutu laugh, topped it all!
Have you found any pieces for your store here in South Africa? If so, tell us more about them? Yes! Cape Town offers beautiful ceramics. I discovered and bought 15 pieces of Mellaney Ruiters ceramics, displayed at the Emerging Creatives exhibition at Design Indaba.
What is next for DAAR Living? So many things to do! And whatever DAAR Living does we will stick to our goals of contributing to the coming together and promotion of artisans, artists and designers which will help to develop a ‘design scene’ as well as improve livelihoods and increase market share as we make African handcrafted products everyday home-ware, worldwide.
Images courtesy of DAAR Living
Visit the website: daarliving.com
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ELLE intern Kareesha is a self-confessed foodie who loves testing Pinterest recipes. She is inspired by creativity and enjoys reading South African authors. She loves animals and even has a few chickens running around her back garden. She has a passion for learning new things and is always up for a new challenge. Her dream holiday would be exploring Zanzibar or jetting off to the South of France for croissants and macarons.
The 2017 Field Report is not about fleeting trends – its about quality and perfection, about bringing back traditional skills and craftsmanship. We speak to the visionaries, icons and experts who shape their unique, lasting and life-enhancing concepts for us to embrace through their designs, recipes, buildings and explorations. Pick up your copy today and tell us what you think on Twitter @Elle_Deco using #2017FieldReport.