Fusing modern design with traditional Africa fabrics and prints, B. Dakin designer, Brian Dakin, has created a collection of products that bring together his childhood and African traditions with his western upbringing and modern aesthetic. Growing up in New York and studying Industrial design at University has aided in his modern and functional approach to design but he got his start at a much earlier age. His day-to-day life as a child, growing up in a West-African family and being immersed in the culture has influenced his approach to design and the result is a collection he describes as ‘modernising heritage’.

Can you give us a brief run down of how B. Dakin got started?
A visit to West Africa early last year is where the brand really started to take shape. I’d always experimented with different applications of Ankara fabrics but I was so inspired by the vibrant colour and the way people embraced colour and patterns while I was there. It’s such a strong part of African culture and so uplifting but I knew I needed to present it in a modernised way, a different way…and that’s how B. Dakin got started.

Can you tell us how you got your start in design?
When I was a kid my mum would give me her clothes to be altered at the tailor so it really started there. I was always interested in the way things were constructed and it wasn’t just clothes, it was everything. As a kid, I was known in my family for taking apart electronics and rebuilding them and pulling apart our furniture to see how things were built and I still to that today. When I look at how something is made, I always think about how I can do it differently, how I can do it better.

What is the philosophy behind your brand?
B. Dakin is a representation of modern African culture. We are modernising heritage through our brand and showing the world the true progressive Africa that we experienced while we were there. We’re educating people while giving them a nice handbag to carry around!

The prints and colours you use are quite unique. How do you determine which print will work best?
That happens in so many different ways. Sometimes I’lll see a print that I like and know what product I need to make in order to use it, other times I’ll get a print and sit on it for months and then someone will say “Hey have you ever thought of making this” and then BANG I know what the print is for. We’ve actually started to print our own designs now, so the process is changing a little. Rather than using prints we’ve found, I work with a graphic designer that helps to bring patterns that I’ve dreamed to life. It’s an exciting time for our brand.

What sets B. Dakin apart from other brands?
The experimentation of Ankara fabrics and prints and the way we apply them to our products. Also being able to offer great quality and great craftsmanship at a great price. That’s really important to us.

Who or what is your greatest source of inspiration?
I get inspiration from anything and everything – nature, music, an experience, travel – it all plays a part in the creative process.

If you could describe B. Dakin in five words, what would they be?
Unique, Modern, Bright, Brilliant, Inspiring.

What kind of music do you listen to when you create?
Anything from rap to blues to African beats.

Who are your style heroes?
Hussein Chalayan, Marc Jacobs, Art Comes First, Sam and Shaka, Chanel.

How would you describe the B. Dakin customer?
It’s such a large demographic that I couldn’t pin point one group of people. It’s certainly people that are attracted to vibrant colours so that can be anyone – young and old.

What is your greatest extravagance?

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife, she’s always got my back.

What do you enjoy doing most when you’re not creating?
Being in nature. It’s the way I recharge my batteries. A game or two on the basketball court also does the trick.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being able to bring B. Dakin to life is my greatest achievement so far but there’s a lot more to come. Stay tuned!

Any advice for new designers?
Get a good handle on production - know where to produce the best quality items at the best price. And do extensive market research before you launch anything new.

What is your present state of mind?

What can we expect from B. Dakin next?
We’ve got a new range of accessories in the works and a few new surprises to add to the range - brighter colours, interesting shapes, geometrics – there’s some big things coming for B. Dakin!

Shop the B. Dakin Collection here.
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