In the vibrant city of Lusaka, a treasure trove of beautiful spaces are continuously emerging, each with a delightful discovery waiting to be made. Whether it’s restaurants, pubs or art galleries, there is always something to entice the discerning crowd. And among these emerging havens, one has captured the imagination of all who seek creative inspiration.
Welcome to Atelier Camario, an artistic space nestled in the heart of Woodlands, Lusaka. With its Insta-worthy aesthetic, this haven of creativity, founded in 2021, has quickly become the talk of the town, its allure spreading like wildfire across social media. Atelier Camario is a well-thought-out, bespoke free-thinking sanctuary that attracts creatives and fashion lovers.
At first glance, Atelier Camario may appear unassuming, a humble structure blending seamlessly with its surroundings. Yet, beneath its understated facade lies a world of creative marvels waiting to be explored. Step inside, and you will discover a realm of minimalistic splendour that transcends the ordinary.
The metallic white walls of this artistic sanctuary serve as a canvas for a symphony of visual wonders. Photo prints, ornaments, paintings, and meticulously handcrafted baskets adorn every inch. Mwape Fundanga, the visionary behind Atelier Camario, guides me through the space while imparting her wisdom. “You can never have too many baskets,” she declares, a testament to her passion for the intricate craftsmanship that adorns the space. Every design choice within these walls is the result of deliberate planning. From the precise placement of furniture to the carefully selected plants and awe-inspiring artworks, every element harmoniously coexists, breathing new life into what was once a neglected structure.
Atelier, the French word for a workshop, signifies the essence of this space—a place where creativity thrives, and imagination flourishes. But what about “Camario”? Ah, that is where the essence of Mwape’s heritage intertwines with her artistic vision. Derived from her parents’ names—Caleb and Rosario—this name encapsulates inspiration and passion that permeates every corner of Atelier Camario.
Mwape’s educational journey took her from Switzerland, where she dabbled in architecture before embracing her passion for interior design. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, she ventured to Paris, immersing herself in the world of project management and interior architecture for her master’s degree. The influence of her diverse background is apparent in her attention to detail.
After graduating and returning to Zambia, Mwape defied conventional paths, opting to freelance primarily in graphic design before eventually developing her visionary space. “Being a fresh graduate, whenever I approached people to collaborate, they’d always be sceptical and often questioned my knowledge. So birthing the Atelier was the best way to achieve my goals and avoid frustrating situations. Atelier Camario became a vibrant haven where the fusion of fashion, photography, graphics, and artistry thrives. In this place, the tribe of creatives finds solace, united by a shared vision”, she added.
With every brushstroke of her university projects, Mwape knew her destiny was to shape her homeland with fresh perspectives and innovative endeavours. She added, “As an artist and a designer who has always been interested in the Zambian heritage, I always found it surprising that we didn’t value our crafts and culture enough, at least not as much as foreigners do. I aim to change that!”
Mwape’s philosophy thrives on collaboration and a shared commitment to utilizing local resources. Atelier’s devotion to this principle is evident through partnerships with brands like Kontama, Finders Keepers, and Salenipo. These brands, owned and operated by talented Zambians, embody the spirit of upcycling and thrifted fashion, showcasing the incredible potential of local materials.
Mwape’s focus remains on the store, but in the future, she envisions Atelier’s involvement in construction projects. She harbours aspirations of venturing into the realm of home and office design, carrying forward the narrative of supporting local artisans and utilising locally sourced materials and labour. “You don’t always have to import prefabricated items for building projects. Instead, I urge people to find locally made products made with indigenous resources. I want office spaces and homes to foster the same atmosphere as my store.”
Atelier Camario is open six days a week, from Monday to Saturday. It is not just a shopping and dining destination. But it’s a thriving hub for local artisans, art lovers, and creative minds who frequently visit the space for inspiration and collaboration. Items on sale include furniture, baskets, graphic design prints, artworks and clothing, both second-hand and upcycled. The versatile studio space is available for rent, perfect for fashion shoots, product photography, commercials and interviews, and more. Immerse yourself in this creative environment and connect with others looking for inspirational items to elevate their spaces.
- Atelier Camario is a free-thinking, creative space that stocks art, clothing, furniture and baskets, among other things.
- It was founded in 2021 by Mwape Fundanga, an artist, interior designer and graphic designer, and promotes the production and sale of indigenous made products and brands.
- Atelier Camario works with local artisans and local materials to bring its creative vision and products to life.
- More than just a shop, the space invites creatives to collaborate in various artistic domains.
- It is open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm.
Images by Kalichi Pictures