The AOKO Designs
All of my designs for All Very Goods start from the belief that representation matters. I use personal illustrations, graphic design, patterns and symbols from Africa, Asia and Europe to create products that are visual metaphors for my African American history and present experience.
I'm based in Washington DC and while I have lived here most of my life, I've also traveled around the world. My bandanas are intended to be a conversation with the wearer about identity, culture and personal mythology. Essentially, how we become who we are because of and in spite of the influences around us. In particular, I am interested in this process for African American women and the push and pull between how we are perceived and considered and how we defy, embrace or evolve those perceptions to create ourselves.
I chose bandanas as a first product and entry point because of their symbolism and historical significance. Bandanas were brought from Asia to Europe and then North America via colonization. They were used during the American Revolution to spread messages of rebellion and inspire solidarity during the fight. Similarly, African Americans have adapted bandana's cultural meanings over and over again to fit our needs. They've been signifiers of identity, signs of safety and messengers of warning.
This series of bandana designs uses Adinkra symbols, colors and patterns from Ghanian textiles and Haitian art, Dutch wax print fabrics, and traditional Asian and North American bandana lay-outs. Together they create a cohesive collection that speaks to adaptation, representation, and cultural evolution.