It was over a decade ago that I first stepped foot on African soil. As an aspiring young career woman on one of my earliest business trips, the people, landscapes, scents, colors, and vitality that I encountered enveloped me and seemed somehow entirely new yet familiar, capturing my heart, my youthful ambition, and my imagination. On that trip, a local client offered to take me to a Nigerian arts and crafts market. Out of the stalls spilled carvings, textiles, and paintings, and I was reminded of endless childhood days spent with my beloved grandmother combing markets and trade shows for decor, materials, and trinkets for her interior design business. I purchased my first African artworks, a few small carvings and three paintings, and I was hooked. Over the next several years working on projects across the African continent, I visited local markets and artisans whenever possible and it became a ritual and great joy to collect special pieces for myself, family, and friends.
As you browse kanju’s first full collection in the following pages, I hope you will find as much delight and inspiration in these exquisite pieces and their rich stories as we do at kanju. Africa is a vast, endlessly diverse, and enchanting continent with infinite substance to feed the imagination. The works in these pages are the result of artistic skills honed over years and generations, thousands of miles traveled, and the magic that comes from the varied experience of mediums, regions, groups, and individuals each bringing their own perspective to the kanju collection. You, our friends and fellow design lovers who appreciate the beautiful and exceptional, complete the kanju story. It is an honor to invite you to join us in celebrating African art and design.