Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair took a spin this year, by stretching line-up across our borders, and in all served a reminder of Africa’s artisanal acuity in design.

‘Well Made in Africa’ was the theme that brought together a footfall of 14000 in three days (14-16 October 2016) at Hyde Park Corner’s rooftop for Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair (HmC). On par with the magnificent designs was artisanal food, wine and various beverages, all a local – meaning African – work of art.  
In its sixth year, Sanlam HmC had a Pan-African twist far from a small move, and called in designs from Senegal, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Ghana. For starters, this addition was amongst our favourites. The likes of AAKS with dyed raffia goods brought in the beauty of traditional weaving from Ghanaian women. Naturally, the fashion element will gratify even more: Laurence Airline whom we last saw at the final existence of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa, was present with modern shirts delightfully accentuated with prints. Mille Collines remained impressionable in how it merges contemporary and Africa, with clothing and accessories. Their statement product was the slides, which are the most current shoes this season. 
Home products that struck a chord included The Ninevites’ carpets and Douglas & Co. tables as well as lamps. Jewellery brand, Zoja, drew not only for its jewellery but also for a well-designed installation with blush pink walls and fluid-looking scales. The designer, Zoja Mihik, took home Best Design Stand award. Hametop bags were also something worth owning, as well as Butter Pudding – a loveable kiddies wear brand – which debuted the ss16 collection at HmC. The knitwear brilliance that is MaXhosa, also had a stand at the fair.
For someone who’s always at fashion week shows, seeing Chu Suwannapha on the opening night, in an ‘uncommon’ setting was a refresher, that well-rounded the theme, with the drummers reminding that this is Africa and Africa does produce premium and luxury goods. 
Trade shows affords access to a wide market and is a multiple-way privilege for the designer and the customer. As an annual event, it sure stretches revenue for brands and introduces what customers would not find when shopping in traditional spaces such as malls. One cannot help but anticipate a larger scope for next year’s event.
These are but a few things memorable from Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair 2016.
Images from Artlogic: Chu Suwannapha; AAKS, Laurence Airline stand, Zoja stand.