The choice Nicola Hankey-Onyango made 15 years ago is a familiar one. Originally from Ottawa, Nicola moved to London to do a course at the Sotheby's Institute of Art with a view to joining the art world. She soon found that she couldn’t make enough money to sustain herself and decided to pursue a career in PR and marketing – a field she excelled in.
In London she worked for the public relations company Hill+Knowlton Strategies and then Barclays Wealth. When she moved to Kenya with her family five years ago she rejoined Hill+Knowlton, this time with a focus on Europe, The Middle East and Africa. One and a half years later, Nicola launched Silver Acacia – a brand management and communications consultancy.
Despite this career path, Nicola remained passionate about art and design. Since her move to Kenya, she has experimented with local materials. This includes designing linens for her house and cheese knives with horn handles. And this year Nicola launched Urban Artefacts.
Urban Artefacts is both an accessories label and production studio. The company has hit the ground running, releasing designs from three collections and starting work on a production order for the German brand HIITU.
Urban Artefacts bought the entire CREA Africa production house, which included brass casting equipment, tools, and even some moulds. This necklace is from Urban Artefacts’ Teardrop Collection. The collection was designed by the Italian designer Elisabetta Capolino, who was a director of the now closed jewellery brand CREA Africa.
The beaded balls are a modern take on traditional Maasai beadwork and the brass drops were made using the investment casting process.
Photograph courtesy of Urban Artefacts and by Barbara Minishi. Model: Nicola Milnes.