Perspectives - A Conversation with Lulu Kitololo

This week, Perspectives talks to Lulu Kitololo of Lulu Kitololo Studio. Lulu Kitololo Studio is a creative entreprise that is inspired by nature, tropical colour and craft traditions. Lulu Kitololo is also responsible for creating Ichyulu's wonderful identity and branding.


1. How exciting is it to see the identity you created up and running?

It’s really amazing – I do an internal happy dance each time! Not only to see the identity up and running but also, to see the whole Ichyulu vision come to life. That’s perhaps the most exciting thing about what I do – meeting all kinds of passionate people with great vision, and collaborating with them to communicate their ideas and innovations to the world.


2. When we first started working on developing the identity, we had a lot of different ideas. What's your process for creating an identity?

The first step is learning as much as I can about my client – their vision, the values of their business and, what sets them apart/what's unique about them. From this exercise, ideas start to germinate and themes emerge. Next is research: I look at what their peers and competitors are doing, to see how my client can further distinguish themselves; I look at best practice design in their field; and I look for visual references for the themes that started to come to mind. 

I always insist that the process of creating an identity be a collaborative one. My client's know their business better than I ever will and so, they're going to have insights that will complement what I'm doing. We are in constant conversation – them giving feedback on what's resonating most and me using that to guide the development of original ideas. I initially present a few options and then we go through a few rounds to develop further and refine. 

What's really important is to think of an identity as a flexible kit of tools. It's not just about designing a logo. We consider colour, typography and additional, complementary graphic elements which, may include patterns, icons, a specific style of imagery or illustration etc.


3. What's your favourite part of the identity created? Personally, I love the incorporation of the stitching detail into the hills motif.

What I love most is how we managed the balance of playful and elegant. I think it reflects the work of the designers that Ichyulu stocks – exquisite, with bags of personality! I love that about what so many African fashion designers are doing right now, as diverse as their work may be. I feel it's a reflection of the diversity and "colourfulness" of our continent.


4. Over the past few years, we've seen your shift to stationery design. How is that going? What interests you about it?

I'm really excited about designing stationery and art goods. It's an opportunity for me to pursue my own ideas, develop my unique aesthetic, and share these with a bigger audience than just my clients.

It also gives me an excuse to explore subjects that interest me. Whether it's adornment traditions from one part of the continent or, plants indigenous to another. Africa is my main muse and I love being able to justify this research :).

The past year or so has been great for testing my designs and getting feedback. The response has been better than I imagined! Now, my focus is on trying out different types of products; getting stocked in more outlets; and working on a special distribution scheme of my own which, I'll be unveiling later on this year.


5. Any plans to extend your designs to fabrics, home decor?

Absolutely! Textiles, wallpaper, soft furnishings, crockery – these are all areas that I'd really like to get into, in the coming months and years. I've already got one brand collaboration in the works and I'm really excited about all I'm going to learn from the process, as well as the new groups of people I’ll get to reach!


6. Which African designers are currently in your wardrobe?

Chichia London, Bestow Elan, Nkwo, Adele Dejak, Jessica Claire Jewellery and Embody Accessories (can you tell I LOVE accesories?!). I'm looking forward to expanding my collection: there are so many beautiful pieces I'm eyeing in the Ichyulu store!


7. Which designer would like you see there?

Pichulik, Katungulu Mwendwa, Nyumbani Design, Lisa Folawiyo (Jewel by Lisa) ... and more from the ones above!


8. If you could pick 3 pieces from Ichyulu, which ones would they be and why?

This is the most difficult question to answer! Only 3?! It would have to be …

The Nkwo Kimono Jacket. This would be so versatile. Dress it down with jeans or dress it up with a sleek pencil skirt. Wear it during the daytime, carry on through until night. I never wear suits so, I can see this being an appropriate piece for more formal business occasions (I am an artist after all :).

The Chichia London Mauwa Petal Dress. I’ve loved this dress since the first time I laid eyes on it. I always think it’s so me – perhaps it’s something about the yellow (one of my favourite colours) … 

The Nyumbani Design Tabaka Necklace. I love bold, statement jewellery and how one piece can instantly elevate an outfit from unremarkable to memorable! This necklace would do just that – and it’s versatile enough to be worn for all sorts of occasions. I can picture the outfits already.


Images courtesy of Lulu Kitololo Studio

Thank you to Lulu for speaking to Ichyulu!