Behind the Label | Adele Dejak

Adele Dejak is a designer inspired by the heart and soul of Africa's artisanal craft and culture. Having lived and worked in England, Italy, Nairobi, and currently Kampala in Uganda, her global style and vision create bold, statement pieces. She has a distinctive love for Ankole cow horn, and has managed to craft horn, brass, leather, and native textiles into modern designs. We asked Adele to describe her recent collection with famed Italian brand Salvatore Ferragamo and share some of her secret must-see spots in Nairobi. Read and shop the latest from Adele Dejak!
Adele Dejak is a designer inspired by the heart and soul of Africa's artisanal craft and culture. Having lived and worked in England, Italy, Nairobi, and currently Kampala in Uganda, her global style and vision create bold, statement pieces. She has a distinctive love for Ankole cow horn, and has managed to craft horn, brass, leather, and native textiles into modern designs. We asked Adele to describe her recent collection with famed Italian brand Salvatore Ferragamo and share some of her secret must-see spots in Nairobi. Read and shop the latest from Adele Dejak!
 
 

 
What was your inspiration for your new collection? 
The Cloud 9 collection was inspired by my ongoing love of Ankole cow horn, which we have been working with for years. I wanted to use lots of horn in this collection as well as recycled brass, and produce bold, standout pieces which build on previous collections and move the brand into a new direction. The collection was named Cloud 9 because of the amazing recognition from Vogue Italia at the time, and the overall journey we have been on. There was a fantastic feeling in the workshop which has continued as we move to the next level.  I was literally feeling like I was on Cloud 9! I would also see the words Cloud 9 popping up everywhere.  One of my philosophies is make chance essential, and when something positive keeps popping up in your life, you should run with it. This is why I named the collection Cloud 9.
 

 
What is unique about your process of production? How do you come up with the designs for your bags and jewelry? 
I would say that it is the people and artisans involved in our process of production that make it unique.  I work with a team of talented artisans who come from all walks of life in Kenya, and who have grown and developed with the company.  
Coming up with designs involves a lot of industry-based research combined with critical assessment of our previous collections. I draw inspiration from everywhere I go and everyone I meet.  I always have my camera with me so I can capture things that I later use when coming up with new designs.  I am a big collector of African artifacts and love going to markets -- lots of the pieces I buy inspire new collections! I am in love with design from around the world in all its forms. Abstract art and inspiration from Africa are huge influences in my collections. I love clean, beautifully straightforward design in architecture, fashion apparel, and photography -- on the flip side, I love the madness and uncertainty found in abstract art.  I feel that the combination of these elements comes through in my designs.
 
How has Kenya impacted your design work? 
I originally started designing for myself for some years, as I am a typographic designer. Kenya is the heart and hearth of the business and has had a majorly positive impact on my design work. From the natural environment, to the people and the changing nature of a rapidly development nation, as well as the materials that can be sourced and used here, such as lesso fabric, I have drawn inspiration and learned so much from Kenya.    
 
 
 
Where are your favorite destinations to travel to for inspiration? 
 
I love traveling within the African continent, it is one of my goals to visit every country in Africa.  I also spend some time in Europe each year, visiting mostly Italy and the UK as my husband is from Venice and I am half British.  I love the access to galleries and museums in Europe and when I get the chance, I spend hours wandering around museums drawing in inspiration from the art world. I never leave London without paying a visit to Tate Modern and Venice without visiting the Peggy Guggenheim museum.
 
Since you live in Nairobi, can you share some of your favorite places with us? 
I lived in Nairobi for 6 years and I?ve been living in Kampala in Uganda since 2011.  I miss Nairobi but I am enjoying living in Kampala.  I love the markets in Nairobi, especially the second-hand clothing markets called Mitumba. The three main mitumba markets in Nairobi, Toy-Market, Karioko and Gikomba are huge and stuffed with the most surprising things!
 
 
I also like spending time at River Caf?.  River Caf? is in the dip of two hills and sells delicious food in a setting surrounded by exotic birds, flowers, and plants.  When my late-father was living with me in Nairobi, we used to visit the River Caf? almost every day.  When I come back to Nairobi I try to go and visit, everyone there remembers my dad and is always so welcoming.
 
 
 
I also love visiting the Safety Lodge for West African artifacts, because I'm half-Nigerian, it?s great to see West and East Africa connecting through business and trade, and I love shopping! Finally, I like Tribe Hotel, where we recently launched our new Cloud 9 collection.  Tribe is a chic hotel that creates a great balance between African influences and global design.
 
 
Who is your Muse? Describe the Adele Dejak Girl?  
This is difficult to answer! I am inspired by women with an edge, particularly Daphne Guinness, who is unbelievably creative in her style and elegance.  She is a woman who is not afraid to be bold and stand out of the crowd. The Adele Dejak woman is a woman who knows what she wants, knows her style and taste, and is confident to make a style statement.  She is a woman who has edge and can stand out without being over the top. She owns her style. 
 
 
 
Globetrotter Stats
 
Souk or Department Store? 
Souk
 
DIY or Concierge Service? 
DIY
 
Buy Everything or Buy Nothing? 
Buy everything! :)
 
Camping or 5-Star Hotel? 
5-star hotel 
 
Drive or be Driven? 
Be driven
 
Room service or Street Food? 
Street food
 
Lots of Luggage or Carry-on Bag? 
Lots and lots of luggage, 90% of which I don?t need or use!
 
 
Shop the collection from Adele Dejak here