As part of a new series, BetterShared will be inviting notable people in art, fashion, design, food, and business to curate their own collection from the art currently available through the BetterShared marketplace.
Meet our first guest curator Eva Sonaike, founder and Creative Director of London-based brand Eva Sonaike - home of luxury African textiles and soft furnishings.
Pictured: Eva Sonaike
After completing her MA in Fashion Journalism at The London College of Fashion, Sonaike went on to pursue a successful career in TV Production and Journalism, working as the UK Fashion Editor for one of Germany's leading magazine publishers before establishing Eva Sonaike eleven years ago. "I had a changing point in my life where I had a child and I was thinking about what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I knew I loved Interior Design, I knew I loved African textiles, so I wanted to bring these together," she told us.
Born and raised in Germany but of Nigerian Yoruba heritage, Sonaike cites her travels in West Africa as one of her main sources of inspiration behind her designs. "When I’m there, I’m very absorbent and I think I see beauty in a lot of things. I think it’s one thing that designers do. I think we see something and we’re inspired and we can turn something very simple into something that inspires others. But for me, it’s definitely the West African way of life. I specifically say West African because there’s different cultures, and I think it’s really important to distinguish the variety of cultures."
Falomo Collection by Eva Sonaike
It's said by some that we're currently experiencing a kind of cultural renaissance of sorts as we're now seeing a renewed interest in black art, music, food, design and fashion. We're also seeing the different ways in which black people are now being represented and reimagined. What's more is that many within the diaspora are now beginning to claim an African identity to which they may have previously felt disconnected. In this cultural movement, Eva Sonaike considers herself as somewhat of a trailblazer as she established her brand Eva Sonaike at a time where there seemed to have been a marked disinterest in African culture. "I remember doing my MA in Fashion Journalism in 2005 and I ran a big arts festival called Africa 2005, and I ran a fashion show as part of this. Back then, people were thinking well what is Africa about? We Africans understood it, we celebrated it. But I think those outside were like is this a trend? Is it a fad?" African culture definitely has a permanent place on the international scene. "I think it’s about time," she told us, "It’s very very important. Our aesthetic and our culture has been I think utilised for centuries," and sometimes you might add without proper acknowledgement.
"With my work, I hope to bring colour to life, to people’s lives, to their homes, and to enhance their homes with some colour."
ASA Collection by Eva Sonaike
'Bringing Colour to Life'- the ethos of Eva Sonaike is as equally central to her designs as her West African heritage. "For me life is about colour. I love colour....It was a given to find a tagline that represented everything that I’m doing," she revealed. We talked to Eva Sonaike about the role that colour plays in her design process which she described to us, "when I design I always start with the colour palette. I’ve got a different counter of colour references, paint chips- everything. I have a collection and design in mind, but for me I think it’s important to first decide the overall theme and colour scheme. Once that is ready, I then come in with the designs. I hand sketch, I take pictures and sometimes I trace and I draw. Everything is drawn by hand and is then drawn to photoshop". Her most recent collection (ASA Collection) is different to the ones that have come before it as every collection is representative of a stage in her life.
So, what's next for Eva Sonaike?
"The main thing is to grow the brand. I’m not talking about world domination. I always wanted to keep it boutique and small and specific. I would like to travel more in Africa where I can absorb more inspiration. I think having other African brands that have a similar passion, seeing them succeed, that’s a great thing."
Eva Sonaike's Curated Collection
"Nathalie Osborne is one of my favourite artists from your collection. The piece is so refreshing and I love the use of colour. It is contemporary, yet classic and represents black beauty."
"This piece is on top of my wish-list! It is modern and abstract, but at the same time sensual and elegant."
"This piece represents modern Africa to me. The mixture of tradition and modern fashion; the red lips we were told were too bright for us. Everything we stand for and are proud of !"
"I absolutely love this piece by Nicole Osula. It is conceptual and elegant. I love the pastel colours and the physical expression."
"What a beautiful piece by Abraham Ogunlende. For me as an interior designer, this piece is perfect for a contemporary African intro scheme, breaking away from the expected and focusing on something new!"