Africa Calls, London Answers
Kathy Shenoy has found her calling – in Africa. UK-born and London-based, she is a design consultant whose interest in craft and design from the continent led her to start Shake the Dust, which collaborates with artisans from emerging economies and represents their wares in an online shop. She established the business in London in 2012 upon her return from Swaziland, where she worked as a product designer and coordinator for an arts festival for three years.
Her latest project, Africa Calling, is a platform for contemporary African design that she launched at the recent London Design Festival.
“I felt that there was a lot that could be done to open up markets and create new culturally collaborative work,” says Shenoy, who was inspired to set up Africa Calling by Cape Town’s designation as 2014 World Design Capital. “It’s a natural extension of the business [Shake the Dust], to generate markets and opportunities for the talented people I’m working with.”
Africa Calling’s first iteration shone a spotlight on Southern Africa, with an exhibition of products by South Africans Clinton Friedman and Heath Nash and handwoven baskets by Swazi craft group Gone Rural as part of the Africa Utopia festival at London’s Southbank. It also displayed a UK-South Africa collaboration in the form of a chair by London-based Yinka Ilori, whose upcycled furniture incorporates aspects of his Nigerian heritage, upholstered in knitted fabric by Laduma Ngxokolo. British designer Lakwena Maciver exhibited highly patterned artworks inspired by a recent trip to her father’s home in Uganda.