Lee Litumbe’s Coffee Table Book Collection immerses you in African creativity | Architecture Digest

What makes a purchase “worthwhile”? The answer is different for everyone, so we ask Some of the coolest and most savvy people we know – from small business owners to designers, artists and actorsto tell us the story behind one of her most prized possessions.

Curated with intention and care, Lee’s books focus on African culture, creativity and inspiration.

Who?

When travel influencer, photographer and cultural curator Lee Litumbe launched her travel blog Spirited Pursuit in 2014, she was just emerging from a quarter-life crisis. Lee was working a job she hated, constantly comparing herself to others her age, and struggling to find herself when she officially launched Spirited Pursuit during a trip to Costa Rica. “I was trying to decide which niche to focus on, and I was caught between travel and interior design,” she says. “I chose to travel, but I really love both!”

Where?

Lee was born in Cameroon and moved to America when he was nine. In 2017 she decided to move to West Africa and settle in Dakar, Senegal as her new home. The decision to move was a leap of faith for Lee; She quit her job and laid the groundwork to build her business, brand, and support herself as a creative entrepreneur. Her dream of breaking free from society’s expectations inspired her blog name.

what and when

Lee has been collecting illustrated books for about three years and currently has over 20. “I’m very careful to curate them,” she explains. “I’ve put a lot of time and money into them, and they’re all centered around different African artists in an ambitious way. I love being surrounded by African creativity.”

The collection began in the fall of 2019 as Lee continued to acquire photo books throughout the pandemic. “With nothing else to do at home, I was looking for more,” she adds. “I want to have my own space, and I want things around me to be a reflection of who I am.”

Why?

Photography has long been an important part of Lee’s life, both personal and professional, and she draws inspiration from various African photographers. Many of her photo books show works by photographers from all over Europe. “I love books about different African photographers and the way they photographed different African cities at the very time when most of them were on the verge of gaining independence,” she explains. “Malick Sidibé, Seydou Keïta and Sory Sanlé are all very inspirational.” The books touch on the history and culture of different cities and countries, and the aesthetic and creativity of the artists’ work makes each page a new, special experience for Lee.

“Before the internet, several creatives in Africa created in this way, which is still relevant today,” says Lee.

She is also attracted by the fact that the photographers and artists had no internet and relied on pure genius. “For me, the main reason I picked up a camera was because I was inspired by the internet and seeing what other people were creating,” she says. “I always think it’s so cool that at a time when there was no internet, there were several creatives in Africa creating in this way that is still relevant today.”

It’s at the top of Lee’s wish list Handicrafts of the Kingdom: Culture and Creativity in Saudi Arabiashe saw in the Architecture Digest Cover story about the artful home of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. “That was probably one of my favorite covers ever,” she says. “I loved how Swizz Beatz talked about his living room. And the way he collects is an ethos that I carry too – where you feel like you’re living in an interesting but relaxed place that you can actually live in.”

Lee enjoys shopping for home accessories and vintage photography at markets around the world. “I love the feeling of bringing places into my space. When I’m having a dinner party or I have people over, I love it when people are like, ‘Oh, where did you get that? I’ve never seen that before,’” she says. “I love telling a story about the things I acquire.”

Handicrafts of the Kingdom: Culture and Creativity in Saudi Arabia

Mali Twist – Malick Sidibé

Seydou Keita: Photographs, Bamako, Mali 1948 1963 (1st edition)

African style: down to the last detail

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