Earlier this year when I launched the ethniciti blog, I noted that during my over 30-year-long career devoted to understanding consumer needs and designing environments to make their lives easier and more fulfilling, not once have I been called upon to create a design or merchandise strategy directed to the modern African-American consumer.
I started my business, ethniciti, to fill the unmet needs of African-American consumers and enable them to acquire quality home fashion goods that truly reflect their lifestyle, culture, knowledge, and sense of fashion.
ethniciti offers a new way of thinking, a feeling of organized ecleccticism. Our exciting, African-inspired collections embody a new vision of the African-American style – how African-Americans see themselves and how they want others to see them
Now I am pleased to announce the launch of the ethniciti online catalog. Take a look at the collections which we have carefully drawn from throughout the Diaspora, featuring works of Pan-African artisans and their representatives.
As designers we begin each assignment with a high expectations in creating an exciting and memorable living space for our clients. As we move through the discovery, then the creative phases, we begin to visualize the end game, what will it look like what will it feel like. What we do know is our clients expect a space that reflects who they are and how they want people to see them.
I am always inspired by Jessica Harris, noted African-American author and educator whose writings weave a masterful web of food and places of the Diaspora. I see an opportunity to help our clients celebrate the completion of a new space with a gathering that ties together the notion of African-inspired interior design with tangible expressions of styles and tastes.
Here are a few of our approaches. Let me know about yours.
This week I’ll be speaking in Houston and San Antonio as part of the Design Arts Seminars program.
As I’ve emphasized in the ethniciti blog, dramatic changes in demographics and lifestyles have created a heightened interest in African-influenced design. Manufacturers of home fashion goods must understand the need to develop collections inspired by regional artistic styles: East African, sub-Saharan, West African, etc. During my seminar presentations, I define African styles to help designers grasp the modern African-American consumer’s fundamental preferences.
I go beyond the traditional to consider an organized eclecticism that best matches today’s African-American’s purchasing motivations in home fashion. I explore contemporary, modern interpretations of African cultural influences, as well as the impact of Cuban, Brazilian, Caribbean, and regional U.S. inspiration. I emphasize the necessity to avoid the trite and cliché by creating authentic design solutions that speak to the modern African-American’s ancestry.
Designers must surpass standard classifications to develop a unique interpretation of Classic, Contemporary, and Casual through a prism of ethnic-inspired design.
Take a look at the overview video and let me know what you think.
At a recent furniture show, I attended one of the countless breakout sessions on diversity. The speaker droned on about the need for diversity in the workplace. As a designer I was looking (perhaps praying) for insight on more diversity in product development in the marketplace. Clearly increasing the numbers of participants around the conference tables might result in products that are more desirable to an increasingly diverse customer base.
At the heart of trend and product decisions is “who gets to decide” – what comes to market and how and if products meet the needs of the modern African-American consumer.
Different from the idealized notion of “what does it look like when we live elegantly in the bush,” (often subscribed to by Ralph Lauren) today’s African Americans are sophisticated consumers who make purchase decisions on the basis of their personal styles.
Concepts for collections, such as “classic,” “contemporary,” and casual” can be touch points for African Americans as well as for the general public, but manufactures and retailers must begin with the understanding that THERE IS an African-American style as it relates to home fashion.
This style is driven by ancient inspirations and modern interpretations defined by a unique sense of style and fashion leadership, but equally as important, accented by a new sense of pride and accomplishment.
Tell me what you’re thinking.