LEONIE BADGER, Founder & Designer - STUDIO BADGE
It is so easy to be caught up in the reoccurring rhythm of life, quite often we shield ourselves in a protective bubble,when that bubble bursts we then can called into question what it is that we really want from life.** Our environment is a strong catalyst to introduce change in our regular routines. It’s key to seek how to either build up your environment and change it.
Ghana is brimming with world renowned talent showcased with writers, photography, art and design, and architecture and music. Ghanaian's thrive off of creativity in the most innovative way whilst showcasing their story.
Designer, Leonie Badger realised her demand to curate functional furniture and items for the home, office and commercial properties. She highlights the excellence of local arts, crafts and artisans around her which subliminally contributed to her dedication to involve culture. Through Studio Badge's minimal yet bold designed goods I can identify the importance of cultivating a taste and appreciation for products designed locally; more so for customers to have a part of the process.
GROWING UP AS AN ARTIST: I grew up in a family where art, fashion and mathematics were normal to me. My mother is an artist and I was deeply influenced by her art and my father is an engineer – meanwhile my brother is a fashion designer. My upbringing has also contributed towards loving to create! My interest for creating stemmed from their nurturing and I am grateful for the immeasurable lengths they have gone through to support my business right from the very beginning.
ON HER TIME AT UNIVERSITY: In 2012 I finished my undergrad at MIT with Architecture major & Management minor and it was a great experience but as I ventured to start my masters which is another three years and I completed one year at University of Pennsylvania and run-away! Just because I felt that I needed to take time off and figure out my exact career path so I opted for a change of environment. I actually thought I was divorcing design, but design was not done with me yet.
WHY SHE MADE DESIGN A PERMANENT PART OF HER CAREER: With my design background affirmed it will be implemented into my career; it’s now my livelihood and a crucial art of my everyday life. I design, source materials, mix concrete with aggregate, cast it just to name a few things my team and I do at the studio. So after leaving the masters program I worked with my dad as in-house design consultant. I was strongly influenced by the day-to-day construction challenges, focusing on how to resolve design issues. Additionally, the skills I’ve acquired over the years stimulated me because I was able to express and witness how design was being perceived in the African market hence my reasoning to strongly cement my position in Ghana, and hopefully stand tall in the design industry as a whole.
ON HER JOURNEY TO LAUNCHING THE BUSINESS: Prior to launching Studio Badge, I visited a concept store in Nigeria called Alara Lagos, I had worked on it whilst interning 1 year at Adjaye Associates. The store inspired me hugely because of their unique furniture pieces. From that experience I researched hard, it opened up to a whole different world of design which strongly inspired me. I was then inundated with a demand for my spatial design input and bespoke furniture. For example fashion designer, Christie Brown needed my aesthetic input for her studio space as well as family and friends who I made bespoke furniture for their homes. It definitely was challenging for myself to learn from scratch and then build a team because clients depend on my designs and so do my team of carpenters. I rely on them as we have to figure out realistic production times which can take longer than expected. However, my typical day is not the same as I have to create the bespoke pieces for clients; sometimes we spend some time producing new products through trial and error. As for business aspects it still is a learning curve for me because it’s bigger than upkeeping our social media, calculating the numbers etc but more so it’s also about nurturing the community through design.
ON IMPACTING THE CREATIVE CULTURE OF GHANA: I love that there is an infectious rise of young, African creatives more specifically based in Ghana. It aids me to collaborate with innovative people and that keep me on my toes. I think my impact has been steadily necessary but I love that my designs are in demand. I really want Ghanaians to progress by owning the “Made In Africa” perception because everything Africa has the world wants! More specifically Ghana is a resourceful country and I choose to use what I have around me – In essence I hope this will inspire the next generation.
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF USING LOCAL RESOURCES: The Financial Times Africa Rising Star feature proved that design in Africa is becoming a necessity, a recognised profession. Our mantra is that we are deeply interested in “expressing form, texture and spatial qualities in design.” With that being said using local materials is imperative because it is a strong ethos for our brand. We want to remain integral with our clients and stay true to our ethos. It’s very important to use local materials and workmanship because in a sense the local people do not have the most expensive tools but their fundamental knowledge is unmatched. With that knowledge we have to produce much with little, I always look to broaden my perspective and appreciate the details when we cast and seal the concrete on site. We have to use what is readily available here so that means going back to the basics - which is a beautiful process.
HOW 2016 WAS A GROWTH LESSON: After a few setbacks in regards to production I couldn’t just sit there and wait around for things to be ready; that’s how the concrete &wooden platters came about because we weren’t just focused on the shelving units we decided to expand with the materials we have. Although, sometimes the production work rate is slow I choose to pride myself on showcasing quality over the time taken. I take quality seriously so I am upfront with the expected timelines with all clients – So far I have been blessed with patient clients!
HOW SHE DOES NOT GET DISTRACTED: I like to manage my deadlines as efficiently as possible and stick to the task at hand. I believe that with balancing the important things I am forcing myself to have dedicated time for creativity, meaning time to play with my ideas and develop it. One of the reasons why I stepped away from architectural profession was because of the details surrounding practicing it – It felt too boxed in as it can curve your curiosity narrowly when there is a wider world out there to think in one way. Since I’ve experienced this I am clearer on the path I want go down so I try not to get side-tracked by other things.
INSPIRING WOMEN IN BUSINESS: I look up to many women in business but particularly the African women in fashion here; for example Aisha of Christie Brown, Mina Evans, Pistis GH. But more so any type of business I am obsessed with, I find it intriguing and commendable.
THIS YEAR I WILL: Learn to balance my time wisely and not take the upsets so seriously. I will also have a production line of stock for the platters, Sharm vases etc so it’ll be easily accessible for customers to order online and for us to dispatch accordingly.
IN FIVES YEARS TIME: For Studio Badge furniture to be streamlined so that’ll give me a chance to design and collaborate with other businesses, spaces etc I want to explore different areas whether it be a minimal lighting fixture for a fashion store or create a product that will enhance your lifestyle.