Lee Litumbe’s Coffee Table Book collection immerses her in African creativity | Architectural Summary

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What makes a purchase “worth it”? The answer is different for everyone, so we request some of the coolest, most shopping savvy people we know, from small business owners to designers, artists and actorsto tell us the story of one of their most prized possessions.

Lee’s books are curated with intention and care, focusing on African culture, creativity, and inspiration.

Who?

When travel influencer, photographer and cultural curator Lee Litumbe launched her travel blog fiery pursuit in 2014, she came out of a quarter life crisis. Lee was working a job she hated, always comparing herself to others her age and struggling to find herself when she officially started Spirited Pursuit on a trip to Costa Rica. “I was trying to decide which niche to focus on, and I was between travel and interior design,” she says. “I decided to travel, but I really like both!”

Where?

Lee was born in Cameroon and moved to America when she was nine years old. In 2017, she decided to move to West Africa, settling 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 grow her business and brand and support herself as a creative entrepreneur. His dream of breaking society’s expectations inspired the name of his blog.

What and when?

Lee collects coffee table books for about three years and currently has more than 20. “I’m very intentional about their conservation,” she explains. “I’ve spent a lot of time and money on them, and they’re all centered around different African artists in an ambitious way. I love being surrounded by African creativity.

The collection began around fall 2019 when Lee acquired more coffee table books throughout the pandemic. “As I was at home with nothing else to do, I started looking for more,” she adds. “I want to have my own space and I want the things around me to reflect who I am.”

Why?

Photography has long been an important part of Lee’s life, both personally and professionally, and she draws much inspiration from various African photographers. Many of his coffee table books feature work by photographers across the continent. “I love books about different African photographers and how they captured different African cities when most of them were on the verge of independence,” she explains. “Malick Sidibé, Seydou Keïta and Sory Sanlé all really inspire me.” The books tell about the history and culture of different cities and countries, and the aesthetics and creativity of the artists’ work make each page a special new experience for Lee.

“When there was no internet, there were several creatives in Africa creating in this way that is still happening today,” Lee explains.

The fact that photographers and artists don’t have internet and rely on sheer ingenuity also appeals to her. “For me, the reason I chose a camera was largely because I was inspired by the internet and seeing what other people would create,” she says. “I still find it so cool that at a time when there was no internet, there were several creative people in Africa creating in this way which is still happening today.”

At the top of Lee’s wish list is Kingdom Crafts: Culture and Creativity in Saudi Arabiathat she saw in the Architectural Summary cover story about the art-filled home of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz. “It was probably one of my favorite covers,” she says. “I loved the way Swizz Beatz talked about his living room. And the way he collects is a philosophy that I carry too – where you feel like you live in an interesting place, but relaxed enough where you can actually to live.

Lee’s favorite place to buy home decor and vintage photography is in markets around the world. “I like to have the impression of bringing places into my space. If I have dinner, or if I have people, I like when people say, ‘Oh, where did you get that? I’ve never seen this before,” she says. “I like to have a story to tell about the things I acquire.”

Kingdom Crafts: Culture and Creativity in Saudi Arabia

Mali Twist – Malick Sidibe

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

African style: down to the details

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