Brett Cook-Dizney is an aerosol artist. Spray paints are his materials. They are by definition commercial, by default, unsubtle and lacking in versatility of tone or value. He archives his amazing broad palette of graduations by multiple layering of colors or by affecting the tonal quality of an area by surrounding it with a contrasting tone.
As illustrated in the book Harlem Style by Rodrick N. Shade and Jorge S. Arango, the spare furnishings of Brett’s casual loft exhibit similar qualities: the colors purple, burnt orange, and blue create an eclectic style with the incorporation of La-Z-Boy recliners, multi-color chairs and African artifacts. Punctuated with his larger-than-life self-portraits, Brett’s live-work space dramatically communicates his sense of style and creative philosophy.
Like other design philosophies, African inspired offers a range of interpretations – the idea that we all look at our spaces through different lenses. When I explore the work of London-based David Champion, his interiors evoke an instinctive journey back to the South Africa where he grew up. The classic approach in the use of textures, color and textiles creates this sense of place and history.
Captured so vividly in the book Ethnic Interiors by Dinah Hall, these rooms speak not only to the cultural heritage of the classic artisans but to a sensitivity in creating warm and comforting spaces.
We sometimes get stuck in the notion that an interpretation of wild and ancient lifestyles is the only perspective possible in creating powerful African-inspired rooms. As designers we must be able, while presenting our own design philosophy to clients, to still address their personal living styles.
This collection by Khaya of South Africa is an excellent example of a contemporary approach. The lines, colors, and textures would easily complement any modern room style.
If you are as excited as I am with the increased awareness of the African essence in fashion, then you are equally frustrated with the lack of availability of value-priced, African-inspired home fashion. It is left to our creative energies to make lemonade out of lemons.
For that next party, start with traditional African wax fabric for basics such as runners, table cloths, and placemats and supplement with a wide range of complementary solid colors. For tabletop and serving wear Crate and Barrel is always a great choice no matter the season. We can do this.