Looking for exclusive African art and craft? An online décor and gifting store called amagugu.com has been launched to supply discerning buyers with exquisite, authentic products direct from South Africa’s most skilled rural and urban artists.
In a move away from the kitsch curios that locals and visitors are often exposed to on every street corner, Amagugu – meaning “treasures” in Zulu – caters for the high-end consumer who wishes to capture the continent’s magical, mysterious essence in all its earthiness and originality.
Headed by former Ster-Kinekor CEO Ferdi Gazendam, Amagugu is a secure online portal that offers a variety of carefully sourced, premium handcrafted decor, art, tableware, accessories and jewellery – ranging from magnificent wire baskets to papier-mâché sculptures of Nelson Mandela.
What these items have in common is tastefulness and exclusivity, and the fact that they reflect the vibrancy and rich colours of Africa – supporting established South African artists while uplifting rural arts and crafts practitioners.
“The idea originated as a response to the internet coming into its own in this country, with increased access to broadband and e-commerce becoming more of a reality,” explains Gazendam. “South Africa has a wealth of wonderfully talented and creative people, and the online shop Amagugu is a way to expose this creativity to the world.”
With the traditional curio market being vastly overtraded, Amagugu opted to aim a step higher in the quality chain, sourcing and selling exclusive artworks and craft items that reflect South Africa and Africa – melding an indigenous ethos with a high aesthetic sensibility that would fit snugly into any contemporary Western-style home. Consequently, the buyers have combed the country, taking their cue from markets such as the Design Indaba in Cape Town, in search of those rare items that offer something special, something different from the mainstream.
The result is a core base of suppliers, which will be added to in the future. Each artist and craftsperson has his or her own fascinating story, which is detailed on the website. Among their ranks are renowned textile designer Ronel Jordaan, tableware expert Diana Carmichael, jewellery designer Susan Slee and potter David Walters. Also on offer are gorgeous clay pieces produced by the enterprising young entrepreneurs at Imiso Ceramics, and striking bronze items made by Bronze Age.
In order to empower and upskill local communities in the production of carefully crafted, highly sought-after artefacts, Amagugu has partnered with various NGOs to identify talented artists and craftspeople, many of whom live on far-flung farms and in rural villages. These include the Gone Rural weavers from Swaziland, Victor Nkuna’s breathtaking Madiba statuettes, the colourful telephone-wire baskets made by the Senzokuhle community project in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and Hassah, a skills development project where local crafters create interior decor items, accessories and beadwork.
“We are fully committed to uplifting disadvantaged communities, providing these suppliers with a regular income and thereby giving them dignity and control over their lives,” says Gazendam.
The Amagugu website offers local and international shipping and delivery, with payment options in South African Rand, US dollars, Euros and Australian dollars. Its payment system is SSL secured through GeoTrust and PCI DSS merchant compliant via Nedbank, with a PayPal option, ensuring safe and secure transactions and the ability to track orders online.
Gift registries are also available, and these superb hand-crafted marvels are the ideal Christmas present for family or friends living overseas. “They’ve all been lovingly sourced, with time and care – we have literally trawled through the hills, picking treasures,” reveals Gazendam. To experience African creativity at its most potent, visit www.amagugu.com – and be dazzled.