1Recently I came across this beautiful recreation of the Somali hido iyo dhaqan (traditional) patterns that is unique and universally recognised by all Somalis – the traditional guntiino(a one shoulder wrap dress worn by Somali women). As I was scrolling along on my Instagram page, a beautiful design caught my eye, a photograph by Iftiin Wadag an upcoming Somali photographer had just posted a new piece. I instantly clicked to get a better look. I immediately fell in love with the richness of the reds, yellows and oranges that made up the fabric. I was familiar with the patters as the guntiino I grew with, but I had never seen it on such material, or these new drawings etch on top of the classic. Later, I was to find that the designer had hand drawn each and every line that made up this eye candy of a garment. So, after hopping over to her Instagram page and looking at what else she had created I was egger to go and meet this designer. I travelled across London (lots of train changes and getting lost) I arrived at HAFZA STUDIO. It is situated in one of the most beautiful areas in East London, at the heart of what looks like East London’s new Millennial Town. The studio faces the river Thames with a backdrop of newly built riverside luxury flats. I walk along the bank of the river and along the rows of art studios with young artists amid what I believe to be their next work of art. The millennial vibe is strong here.
The designer is a British-Somali designer who explores her love for natural forms. Each piece is printed onto beautiful luxury fabrics that makes you instantly want to get a piece. Hafza Studio creates beautifully intricate originals- each piece telling its own visual story. I knock on the door and one of Hafza’s colleagues opens the door, guiding me to where Hafza is busy working on the computer. She has a friendly smile and greets me warmly; I instantly feel at ease.
I look around and I can see on the wall samples of her work. They look even more beautify up-close. Hafsa tells me her colleagues are focused on their work and so we should go and grab a coffee to have her chat. She points at a chic looking modern café with what looks like reclaimed and upcycled furniture with modern minimalist design complete with staff with groomed beards and man buns. We order our drinks and once they arrive, we start our conversation. I’m so eager to know more about the lady behind the designs.
Assalumalykum. So, could you tell me a little about yourself, and the kind of work you do?
Assalumalykum , my name is Hafza Yusuf and I am a textiles and print designer based in London. I have my own brand, Hafza studio, and I also teach workshops to the community to engage them in arts & crats and to explore their creativity, especially minority groups in London.
What kind of work do you do specifically?
So I do textile prints. And everything is designed and made in London. So all of it is my own artwork, I like to call my work ‘a work of art’, because it is all about the design and all about the drawing, as much as it is about the final fabric. All my work is inspired by my heritage, traditional Somali fabrics and East African inspired. I just want to celebrate the beauty of Somali craft and culture and bring it back in a more, I don’t like to say modernway, I like to just say enhance its beauty.
So, on your Instagram it says you combine art and fashion, tell me more about that.
Like I said I like to call my work art and I’m an artist first. And so, it’s just making fashion artistic, I guess.
How did you come about making your work as you like? What got you to open your own studio?
I always wanted to become a textile designer and have my own studio; it’s been something of a dream of mine for a very long time. It’s not something that I just went into but something I’ve studied for a while. And I’m vey blessed to have the opportunity to live my dream, and hopefully continue to grow it. That for me, I would say my work and Hafza Studio is more than just a brand it’s my dream.
So why did you choose hido iyo dhaqan? Considering that you live in London, and there’s a huge variety of designs and contemporary fashion you could have worked on.
For me, it was really important to produce art that I am very passionate about and I want to feel connected to the work that I produce. That’s very important. Also, reviving my culture in a different way, and reintroducing [our] traditional fabric. I think the hido iyo dhaqan in our culture has beautiful textiles. And I wanted to explore it further. It’s just my love for my culture that kind of put me in this direction.
Just one more question. Where do you see yourself going? And how do you want to engage with the both the Somali community and wider community in London?
Mashallah, I’ve got many plans to grow my business. But at the same time as growing my business I want to grow in the community work that I do. I want my work to make an impact in the community. I’ll tell you some words that I really feel inspired by that I came across which were by Oprah Winfrey- to grow, you need to give back. And that’s what I hope to do with the work that I do and impact people’s lives. Inshallah, I have loads of plans in terms of connecting and working with Somalis both in London and back home.
Thank you so much for your time Hafza 😊 If you would like to find out more about Hafza Studio’s beautiful designs visit their website at hafzastudio.com or you can follow them on Instagram @hafzastudio. This is your for all it’s the one of the iron age requirement or if Mr. Morrow to