As a child in Ghana, I could never have predicted the path of my future. Today, I know that the only way to understand who we are is to connect the dots backward to the events that made us. Every item I design carries pieces of my cultural history, skills and techniques of my education, and the passion I carry for promoting social justice. They are meant to remind us to remain open to every experience life brings us – they each have significance in who we become.
I’ve always been fascinated with the power of lines, symbols, and designs. My father was an architect, and knew the importance of education. I will never forget him telling me, “The only legacy i can give you is your education. If I give you a car, you can crash it. If I give you a house, it can burn down. But with education, you can go anywhere and you can do anything.” In school, I was encouraged to explore the way things were made, fixed, and created out of nothing. I was intent on following in my father’s footsteps; however, he had other plans for me: I was to become a jewelry designer. Skeptical, I followed the advice of my father, who turned out to be right. With components of line design, small scale building, and calculations involving math and chemistry, my apprenticeship for a local goldsmith and jewelry designer solidified my love of the craft.
That was only the beginning of a long path that has led me to places – both geographical and educational – I never could have anticipated. In Florence, Italy, I received a formal education in design and stone setting at Le Arti Orafe, where I learned the importance of symbols in paying homage to our history and culture. At the Maine College of Art, I earned my Bachelors of Fine Arts in metalsmithing and jewelry, and was challenged to work in new mediums and expand my artistic range to fields of drawing and sculpture. Earning a degree in Internet Technology gave me confidence I could master the role of technology in modern design. And at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I earned my Masters of Fine Art in Industrial Design, I strengthened my conviction that art can be used to solve many of the problems of the world.
Design can often be interpreted as a luxury for the wealthy. But it is my mission to use design as a tool to solve problems. The creation of the Akakpo line has allowed me to combine my multi-faceted educational experiences with this desire to affect positive change. I am able to use the traditional designs of my Ghanaian heritage to create pieces of art that carry personal and cultural power. After designing a portable filtration system with B9 Plastics to purify water for the people of my native Ghana,
I decided to commit 70% of the proceeds from my Emekor Collection to continue to support the Better Water Maker project I helped them launch.
I am in a very unique place because of the many directions my path has pointed me in, and I count myself blessed every day that my path has led me here. It is only in looking back that we can appreciate how the many experiences of our lives created the people we have become. Years ago, I was given some advice by a mentor that I carry with me every day: “You never know where each experience is going to lead, and either you free your mind or you miss out on where they can take you. Let go and take on the experiences, otherwise you’ll learn nothing.”