Our very own Stefania Manfreda was a guest on 𝙛𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙, 𝘼𝙍𝙏, a multi-disciplinary creative arts platform that spotlights Continental and Diasporan African artists. Hosted by Naana Orleans-Amissah, a Business Coach, Brand Communications Strategist and founder of 𝙛𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙, 𝘼𝙍𝙏, the conversation was very insightful to say the least.
Founder, entrepreneur and creative director, 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗳𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗮 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗳𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗮 runs Lokko house – a concept space in Osu, the heart of Accra.
A gathering space for the creative output of the talents of the country’s creative renaissance, it offers lifestyle, luxury, fashion and wellness products and art, along with a healthy dose of the capital’s energy and friendliness.
From economics, to pattern cutting and sewing in Italy, to working in construction and then becoming a business owner, Stefania has lived the many incarnations of a soul in search of her creative outlets.
𝗳𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱, 𝗔𝗥𝗧: 𝗦𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝟮, 𝗘𝗽𝗶𝘀𝗼𝗱𝗲 𝟴
𝙄𝙛 𝙞𝙩’𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙, 𝙄’𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙞𝙩
Here are some takeaways from the conversation from Naana’s Point of view.
Industrial designer, art director and owner of concept store Lokko House, 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗳𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗮 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗳𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗮, left us with questions to ponder … 𝘄𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗼𝗿 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗱𝗼 𝘄𝗲 𝗱𝗲𝗳𝗶𝗻𝗲 𝗚𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻?
She believes Ghana’s design expression is still in its infancy. Interestingly, she also shares with us that despite its marketing now, Italy’s faculty of design and its trajectory is relatively new – an output of its architectural, engineering and fine art legacies.
Her candid revelations about being 𝙖 𝙜𝙤𝙤𝙙 𝙜𝙞𝙧𝙡 and the subsequent crisis of confidence that followed the ‘sensible’ choice to study economics when her heart was in graphic design, is honest and touching. As is her relief at finding her creative home — an industrial design degree in Milan. She also reveals a pattern about missing what’s not there when you move away, and 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙣𝙚𝙬 𝙚𝙮𝙚𝙨 when you return.
This, her willingness to challenge and address her own limited knowledge of Ghana; her awareness of her initial tunnel vision and fixation with the U.K. and the US as the reference points of the world; her inability to equate design to Ghana; and the former habit of referencing outside Ghana’s creative heritage makes for an interesting conversation about her 𝙬𝙖𝙠𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙪𝙥.
Stefania is a seasoned entrepreneur — she has seen two businesses fail and now runs multiple creative venues. As a proponent of 𝙘𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙧𝙚𝙥𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙪𝙧𝙨𝙝𝙞𝙥 her advice and my favourite of her statements is 𝙞𝙩’𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙨𝙤 𝙨𝙘𝙖𝙧𝙮, 𝙮𝙤𝙪’𝙡𝙡 𝙜𝙚𝙩 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠 𝙤𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪𝙧 𝙛𝙚𝙚𝙩. I especially appreciate the duality of the truth when she says this freeing oneself from fear goes right alongside the crying that failure summons! 😂
My impression of Stefania is as a community creative midwife of sorts — 𝙄 𝙡𝙤𝙫𝙚 𝙨𝙚𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙥𝙚𝙤𝙥𝙡𝙚’𝙨 𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙚𝙣𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙘𝙪𝙡𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙, she says of grooming the generations coming up.
She spotlights the new creative generation as 𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙚 𝙛𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙡𝙚𝙨𝙨, 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙖 𝙗𝙞𝙜𝙜𝙚𝙧 𝙘𝙖𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙩𝙤 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙢𝙨 𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙚 𝙩𝙧𝙪𝙚. She talks of the 𝙛𝙡𝙚𝙭𝙞𝙗𝙞𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙤𝙨 and how 𝙝𝙪𝙢𝙖𝙣 Ghana is and how the connective powers and scale of technology have supported its creative renaissance. She says 𝙞𝙩’𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙨𝙚 𝙨𝙥𝙖𝙘𝙚𝙨 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙝𝙖𝙫𝙚𝙣’𝙩 𝙮𝙚𝙩 𝙗𝙚𝙚𝙣 𝙧𝙚𝙜𝙪𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙖𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙘𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚𝙨 𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙥 𝙞𝙣.
𝗦𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻 𝟮, 𝗘𝗽𝗶𝘀𝗼𝗱𝗲 𝟴
𝙄𝙛 𝙞𝙩’𝙨 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙, 𝙄’𝙡𝙡 𝙢𝙖𝙠𝙚 𝙞𝙩
Born to Italian and Ghanaian parents in Accra, concept store founder, 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗳𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗮 𝗠𝗮𝗻𝗳𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗮 grew up in Ghana, before studying industrial design at Politecnico di Milano. She earned a Masters degree in Marketing and Communication for Public and Private Institutions at Lecce, Italy. Before starting Lokko House, Stefania worked as an Art Director in an advertising agency in Italy and in construction in Accra.
She enjoyed a childhood immersed in creative possibility. From her father’s mechanic yard, to her mother’s eye in fashion and a Nonna who gave her masterclasses in sewing she says she and her siblings were busy with their hands. It taught her that she could make anything, and make it herself. As she says elsewhere 𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙗𝙪𝙨𝙮 𝙞𝙨 𝙢𝙮 𝙗𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙗𝙪𝙩𝙩𝙚𝙧, 𝙢𝙤𝙨𝙩𝙡𝙮 𝙤𝙪𝙩 𝙤𝙛 𝙘𝙪𝙧𝙞𝙤𝙨𝙞𝙩𝙮.
She is the founder of 4 brands:
Lokko House @lokkohouse
Elle Lokko @ellelokko
The Container, Accra @thecontaineraccra
The Warehouse, Accra @thewarehouseaccra
The list below includes the artists she admires, that came before her or made an impact on the Accra art scene.
𝗔𝗿𝘁𝗶𝘀𝘁𝘀 𝗦𝘁𝗲𝗳𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗮 𝗮𝗱𝗺𝗶𝗿𝗲𝘀:
Victor Butler @victorbutler
Leonardo Da Vinci
𝗗𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗽𝗼𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗯𝗶𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘆:
MKOGH – Mawuli Kofi Okudzeto Designs
𝗢𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗱𝗲𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗲𝗿𝘀/𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝘀𝘁𝘀 𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻:
Chez Julie @chezjuliegh
Osei Duro @oseiduro