OTAGO is the buzz word among interior design experts thanks to their unique approach of bringing a taste of Africa into London homes
‘The simplicity, integrity, colour and vibrance’ of African art and design is what inspired Anna Rose and Eddie Sercombe to launch their interior design company, OTAGO. After years of working in the fashion industry and taking trips to Africa, the design duo have used their expertise to bring a slice of the continent’s culture into British homes.
OTAGO collaborates with artisans from marginalized communities in Nairobi, Kenya, Swaziland and The Congo. The artisans make the products using African materials and incorporate their artisanal skills with cutting-edge design to create raw pieces right from the heart of the continent. ‘It’s very organic,’ says Anna when I meet with her and Eddie in her Queen’s Park home. ‘Working with the artisans means often our ideas come out as something completely different, which is really exciting.’ Anna and Eddie also work alongside the charity Build A Nest, which provides support and help for the artisans through business development, technical development and helps them to access the market.
The design duo, who met at Glasgow School of Art, joined forces last year after working on a design project based around African craft. After the project they were left with a yearning to explore the continent’s art and design in more depth. This inspired them to create OTAGO and last year went to Kenya to work with the artisans to start the production of their pieces. ‘It is amazing that such beautiful art works can come from unexpected places and from people with incredible hardships’, says Eddie passionately. The elegant collection has been delicately designed and well thought through by Anna and Eddie and they have not just taken inspiration from Africa. ‘Although we work with African craftspeople, we are bringing an element of London and our background as well to the collection,’ adds Anna.
The pieces they have created for their collection are intricate and attractive with a use of bright yet simple colours. The interior accessories such as the glass bead curtain tie-backs and the elegant vases will add a bit of African culture with a hint of modern style into any home. Each piece has been hand made using African materials giving a sense of uniqueness and exclusivity to every item.
Anna and Eddie are passionate about interior design and understand the importance when it comes to designing pieces for the home. ‘When you buy something for your house it has a very personal element, it will sit there for years and has the power to change the whole mood of the room,’ says Eddie.
‘As a designer it is really nice to bring a client’s own personality into a project. You should be able to tell a person’s character just by walking into their house,’ adds Anna.
After launching OTAGO in June the company has already had great success by catching the eye of UK and New York stockists. In the future two would like to have their own shop in the city and are busy at the moment with various trade shows and pop-up shops around the capital. It’s clear that a little simplicity goes far. (Charlotte Veryard)
Find out about the latest pop-up shops and more information at otagodesign.com