Efrem Beyene has always been fascinated by art. In 1989, his passion earned him a scholarship from the Embassy of Sweden to travel to the Scandinavian country to study art. He was selected for the scholarship based on his work that was being displayed at the Goethe Institut and Alliance Ethio-Francaise. In his youth, his passion for all things art was fostered at the Woizero Sehin School that Efrem credits for where he is in life today.
In an effort to give back to the country and community that fanned the first flames of his life’s work, Efrem recently opened an exhibit at Hilton Addis showcasing 100 years of branding in Ethiopia. The exhibit features handmade textile bags that are embroidered with some of the brands and symbols that have been significant to Ethiopian society over the last century.
The bags showcase brands and symbols ranging from the personal insignia that was designed for Empress Taytu Betul in France, to the original Ethiopian Television logo, to even the most essential Ethiopian food staple, ‘berbere’.
Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, Hilton Addis General Manager Claus Steiner affirmed that these brands are unique because many were not generated based on commercial interests alone. He also affirms the role that brands have in creating a sense of community and how many of the brands that developed in Ethiopia before the rest of the world adopted commercial branding are intrinsically tied to the culture and identity of Ethiopians.
Hilton Addis Ababa, according to Efrem, is one of the best illustrators of the significance of brands at a cultural and national level. In fact, one of the biggest motivations he had to create the exhibit was the lasting impression he had of Hilton’s brand during his many visits to Ethiopia since moving to Sweden.
Hilton’s first logotype, designed in 1969 when the hotel was first opened, is cited as a respectful gesture to the Ethiopian people from Hilton Hotel management. Besides the logo, the design and layout of the hotel is also an ode to the Lalibela Rock-Hewn Churches, one of the many artifacts that grace the World Heritage List.
The exhibition, which was attended by both private and public entities that are influential in the Ethiopian art scene, is going to be open to visitors through the 15th of February at Hilton Addis.