Amandla Baraka: A Few Of My Favourite Things
The Little Minx director takes us through a treasure trove of inspirational items, including a useful fan, a powerful scream and... a birthing stool.
Brooklyn-based Amandla Baraka's transition from fashion photographer to in-demand filmmaker displays a knack for keen observation and empowering empathy, a topic exemplfied in this selection of items from around her workplace.
From furniture with emotional history to bookshelves lined with vital texts, the Little Minx director's selection provides a thoughtful and compelling glimpse of someone who finds artistry in all forms.
The Framed Print, Poster, And Bag
A friend found this festival print at an estate sale and sent me the link. My family is from Newark so this was special to me. As I was riding away with it, the woman who sold it to me yells, “I was there!”
I said, “What?!”
“At the festival! It was a good time!”
The silver frame honors the time period. The broken glass honors my clumsiness.
This poster was made by The Nork Project for the Newark Museum. Another reminder of home.
I framed this Colette bag because it’s a piece of history. Mine and the world’s. I was still working in fashion when I went to the Paris storefront. The store is closed down now and yet I have kept this bag. It felt significant.
I call this my home corner. It reminds me of my roots and beginnings.
This is a photo I took of my good friend, Alfie.
She’s an actress and has a legendary spirit about her.
We were shooting her headshots but I decided to try and articulate my own mood with her image.
The scream and the danger in it.
I had it printed.
It inspires me to finish setting up my darkroom.
The Eames Office Bookcase
I’m a big fan of Ray and Charles Eames. In fact, I find myself looking at their short films for inspiration time and time again.
I think what I love about their pieces are the scientific, modular, simple, sleek, playfully intelligent designs.
I needed storage for my office and this modular bookshelf was at the top of my list.
This was also my first big purchase after my Blue Shield spot.
The color blocking, textures, mixed materials.
Combined, it makes me feel this high-spirited seriousness that kind of helps me to focus.
My friends bought me this cabinet for my birthday when I was in college. It's from my old job, CB2.
It was my favorite color and was all I talked about for, like, two months. It has a lot of sentimental value - 1, because my friends bought it and 2, because in college we didn't have any money and this baby had to be about one full salary check.
It has that same mid-century, playfully scientific feeling I like. This color also brings me a lot of peace. It's nice to look at.
When I started as a filmmaker, interior design was the liminal space between my graphic design degree and telling stories in the physical dimension. How things were set, where they were places, why… My very first short film featured a lot of homeware from CB2, ha!
I remember being deeply inspired by Wes Anderson and how he used color, design, and shapes to craft his stories. Now my inspirations are quite different.
Holding a magnifying glass to my initial sparks is a great reminder to keep myself inspired.
My first trip to Africa was for Lagos Fashion Week 2016 in Nigeria. I was there for ten days. In those ten days, I made deep friendships and discovered some amazing fashion and art.
I bought this fan at a market where I haggled to get a lower price. Frankly, I didn't need to do all that haggling but someone told me that's what you’re supposed to do.
There are two of them but I keep this one by my desk in case I get hot. They work very well as actual fans but for a while they were hanging on my wall.
It also reminds me of my good friend Bai who passed away recently. We played with these fans in his grandmother’s garden on the outer edges of Lagos.
I keep that memory in my heart.
Rest in Peace, Bai <3
The Birthing Stool
My grandmother gave me this birthing stool.
It was a housewarming gift that my ex and I lugged back to Brooklyn from Newark.
I love it.
It is one of those pieces that can be passed down from generation to generation.
I live in a tiny apartment above a cafe so there isn’t much space for it as an art piece but I use it in my office as sort of a magazine holder... among other things.
I have so many trinkets and books that I want to display but not enough places I am able to do that. So I decided to splat all of these different pieces of inspiration, life, art on two shelves (pending a third).
Top - Left to right:
A photo of me and my grandmother, my grandfather’s last book, The New Black Vangaurd (of course), a really cool MLK photo book I bought from a black-owned bookstore, and WEB Dubois’ Data Portraits - like an early version of infographics.
Bottom - left to right:
Books that inspire, a plush globe on a candle stand, and a framed piece of fabric from the Pyer Moss x Derrick Adams collection I swiped out of the trash when I was working there.
Below right: collage print by Poetik.