Let's Talk: Anita Quansah

Have I told you how much I love getting emails and comments from you?!? Whether you are just stopping by to say hi or telling me about something amazing you or someone you know is doing, it's truly a treat every time I get a message from you!

One recent message came from Nigerian/Ghanaian textile and jewelry designer Anita Quansah based out of London. As some of you may know, I have a major obsession with textiles of all nature. So it should come to no surprise that I was very excited (think jaw dropping to the floor) to learn about an African textile and jewelry designer, especially one with amazing work! Her work has been featured in German and British Vogue (as seen here) among others and she has collaborated with designers ranging from Mr. Christian Lacroix to DKNY and Diana von Furstenberg. But rather than going on and on about my excitement, let's hear from the designer herself:

What are the first five words that come to mind when you think about Africa?

Friendly, Beautiful, Vibrant, Rich Cultures, and amazing Fashion

What is one of your favorite memories from time spent in Africa or around other Africans abroad?

For me Africa holds many fun memories. It is hard to choose but I will say the wonderful people and rich cultures.

If you could go to one place on the continent right now, where would it be and why?

I would love to explore the whole of Africa, starting with South Africa. I would visit the Zulu and Ndebele tribe. These beautifully enriched (culturally) ethnic groups, I find extremely interesting and inspiring. I have referenced these culture a lot in my jewellery collections. I would also love to visit their vibrant and colourful homes.

How did you first get interested in textile design, and what made you decide to pursue this as a career?

I love fashion and all things beautiful. I guess this interest/passion for design and creativity stems from my early childhood, watching grandmother, a seamstress, teaching and making the most beautiful clothes from very interesting and embroidered textiles. Her passion for creativity, her energy and her determination is what drove me to start experimenting at a very young age. I guess also being brought up around women and watching their different styles evolve also had an impact on me.

Also after years of selling my luxury handmade couture fabrics to renowned fashion designers, I wanted to create a fashion line that people could not only learn about the intricate techniques used and see the true value of it, but also fall in love and own a piece of a true wearable art. Then in 2004 Anita Quansah London the fashion line was launched. Since then, the line has proven very successful, sold out in the Laden Showroom London which was the first ever boutique that stocked the line, from then, I went on to sell on Asos online which too was very successful. Now I am designing a range of neckpieces to accompany the fashion line.

Do you think your background as an African has any influence on your work as a designer and if so, how?

My cultural heritage has had a huge impact on my work. Coming from a mixed African background half Ghanaian and half Nigerian has exposed me to a lot of rich African traditions, cultures with rich materials and textiles. The bold and vibrant colours in Africa are phenomenal. I try to inject these into my work a lot. I have incorporated in the past rich luxe African prints in my work mixed with vintage materials such as 1940 pieces and new materials such as chains, pearls and shells, which is amazing, it gives it a totally new look which is rare.

When you are not coming up with wonderful designs, what else do you like to do?

When am not designing, I love to visit Art Museums and galleries. Visiting latest exhibitions.

Where is your favorite hang out spot?

For shops I love to hang out in Selfridges, Harrods or Liberty. And most of the time vintage shops down Brick Lane London

What is your personal soundtrack right now?

Right now I'm loving a Nigerian artist Banky W.

Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?

I draw inspiration from Culture/travel, Nature, Art, Fashion present and past, music of past and present generation. Most of the time culture and nature has had a huge impact in my design. For nature inspired design I look to great artist such as Monet, Gustav Klimt and Robert John Thornton as well as the ever changing beauty that surrounds nature the tone, patterns, placement and proportion.

What has been your proudest achievement?

Collaborating with Great designer and couturier Mr Christian Lacroix, for his Spring/Summer 2004 Haute- Couture show in Paris.

What is the best lesson you've learned so far?

These three key words: Dream, Believe, Achieve

What dream do you still want to fulfill?

I hope to have made the brand more successful, and a household name, have designs both fashion, interior and jewelry stocked in African Boutiques, and big department stores worldwide. But most importantly, to maintain the value of my craftsmanship and keep my creative spirit alive.

So I know...you just can't get enough of her designs and maybe even want to pick a piece or five up for yourself, well you can find oh so much more on Anita's website, via Flickr, Not Just a Label, and Shrimpton Couture.

{Thanks so much for joining us Anita}

{Photos: Anita Quansah, Deustche Vogue, Pref Magazine}

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