Mali’s AAAA Brings Contemporary African Design To SA


Local interior designers, decorators, and art lovers will soon get the opportunity to experience leading decorative homeware from the continent as AAAA, a co-operation of artisans from Mali, launches its pop-up exhibition in Cape Town.

AAAA’s display, which is being hosted in collaboration with Cécile & Boyd, will run at Cécile & Boyd’s landmark Kloof Nek Road destination in Cape Town and feature contemporary African designs based on traditional techniques.

The pop-up will open to the public from 26 February 2020 onwards and will run for two weeks. AAAA and Cecile & Boyd will present a concise collection of handcrafted Textile Totems that will be showcased to the South African market for the first time.

Atelier Autodidacts Anti Algorithms
Atelier Autodidacts Anti Algorithms

Atelier Autodidacts Anti-Algorithms

Playing on a love of symbolism and design, AAAA stands for Atelier Autodidacts Anti-Algorithms. The co-op aims to celebrate traditional artisanal methods, which includes championing the original Malian textile artform of Bogolan.

Bogolan (which means made of mud) is a traditional handmade Malian cotton fabric (called finimugu) that is dyed with fermented mud. AAAA incorporates Bogolan, also known as Bògòlanfini, into their designs and textures, and it is some of these works that will be shown in Cape Town.

Visitors can expect to see an edited selection of striking Textile Totems in eight distinct designs that come in eight colour selections and three different sizes.

Creating an AAAA Bogolan is a labour-intensive process involving people and place. All the manufacturing stages are completed by hand – from picking the cotton, to spinning, weaving, dyeing and painting. This hand-made aspect of the production process makes each item original. No two pieces are ever exactly alike.

AAAA describes making a Bogolan as a “true slow art process and product. With a minimal of means, we create products that speak the language of the soul.”

This ‘language of the soul’ is what attracted famed trend forecaster Li Edelkoort to create the AAAA project with artist Birgitta de Vos, under the umbrella of the United Nations and financially supported by the EU.

The exhibition at Cecile & Boyd is timed to open when Edelkoort will be in Cape Town to present as part of the 25th edition of the renowned Design Indaba conference.


Singita Lebombo

Coming full circle, Edelkoort is similarly connected to Cécile & Boyd, citing Singita Lebombo, where the interiors were designed by Cécile & Boyd, as one of her favourite places to visit in the world.

Cécile & Boyd’s aesthetic is evident in the landmark interior design and décor schemes it has created for Singita’s luxury safari lodges over the last 30 years.

The award-winning team is well versed in a design language that honours Africa, that incorporates original designs and an interesting play on texture and colour, making the Kloof Road shop more than a fitting backdrop for the AAAA exhibition.

Furthermore, AAAA has recently joined this world via a collaboration with Cécile & Boyd’s Head of Design for Singita, Geordi De Sousa Costa. De Sousa Costa has sourced AAAA’s cushions and Textile Totems for Singita’s new Sabora Lodge in Tanzania.

Speaking of the upcoming exhibition, De Sousa Costa describes the project as a welcome addition to the Cécile & Boyd umbrella. She says: “We are excited to be collaborating with a truly African co-operation. AAAA offers an authentic celebration of Malian textile art but also marries this to a contemporary African sensibility.”

Guests will be able to view AAAA’s striking, original pieces in the gloriously beautiful context created by Cécile & Boyd – an entire Arts and Crafts mansion in Tamboerskloof, where each room is lovingly decorated as if it were someone’s home.

For more information visit the Cécile & Boyd website.


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