I am always amazed at where the inspiration for room design comes from, as we try to recreate a space that reflects our fundamental tenets of African-inspired design. The notion that it takes us to our interpretation of deco was initially somewhat of a surprise.
Of course many famous artists, the likes of Picasso, used the impression of the Shona stone sculptures of Zimbabwe to define an overall approach to his art. Similarly furniture designers from the Harlem Renaissance period combined the shapes and exotic textiles for a contemporary ethnic look.
Following that lead we incorporated these shapes and patterns with a intriguing palette of blue, black sea foam, and pink in an attempt to break away from the dated safari image. The use of traditional African wax fabrics reinforces the light and airy feel we were looking to achieve.
Another counterpoint that works is the generous use of floral arrangements of plant material pulled from the mood board expands and fills the room with color and intriguing forms.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of a designer’s contribution to the project is helping define the style of the space. While words such as “contemporary,” “traditional,” “western,” “shabby chic,” “Paris flea market” are often used, seldom does the description “African modern” enter the conversation. Typically defined in small chunks, the notion of an entire room or even an entire home is seldom placed in the client’s consciousness.
Stephen Burks of Readmade Projects of Brooklyn hopes to change this with his M’Afrique exhibition, featuring the work of furniture designer Moroso along with photographers and textile and product designers present a dramatic, tangible impression of modern African inspired design.
The reefs that lie in the turquoise and azure waters of Africa’s tropical west coast are among the richest environments on earth. These gloried places provide us the inspiration to create the essence of our dining room. Reaching for a concept that would combine both functional and aesthetic components, we chose a palette drawn from the sea with a backdrop of wood-and-stone artifact images.
The room is anchored by the dining presentation that consists of a custom table top along with table linens that set the stage. With images by American photographer Ron Tarver, the room has takes on a contemporary attitude.
In order to unify the space we have created a custom buffet and cabinet collection that allows us to bring the color statement around the room in a substantial way.
In keeping with the objective of simplicity, the widow treatment consists of a pair of custom screens and window panels. We have featured in this room, as part of our love of African textiles, coordinated wax prints.
The feature wall is anchored by wax fabric and a buffet. This allows for a dramatic backdrop for a personal collection of family treasures.
The ethniciti brand represents a new way of thinking about the design of personal spaces. No longer are we bound by earth tones and skins, but we are free to reflect the energy and stylings of modern Africa. We will explore together the possibilities.
It has always been ethniciti’s belief that African-inspired textiles are perhaps the most visual interpretation of the culture. While apparel designers have most recently begun to show African textiles in their fashion design, there have been few examples in comprehensive home fashion collections.
As designers we have always been attracted to African wax fabric for its amazing patterns and colors. Just recently ethniciti has been offered the opportunity to develop a show home for a developer of high-end condos. The strategy is to create spaces based on ethniciti design concepts, featuring African wax textiles as the center of a marketing program directed at prospective buyers who would be attracted to modern African-inspired home fashions.
Over the next few weeks we will share with you our process that with culminate in the opening of the show home in late January, 2011. We are hopeful that you find our process informative and inspiring.
The basis of the design concept is the creation of a unifying palette that holds the approach together while offering a series of coordinated palettes for individual rooms.
The show home is designed to distinguish the property by offering a memorable experience and tangible ideas to prospective buyers.
The rooms are essentially a collection of vignettes that easily transfer to any home makeover project.
Visit us at ethniciti essentials for a preview of a series of home fashion collections that we are debuting in the first quarter of 2011.
We are sometimes intimated by the artful use of artifacts in our design ideas. I think mainly because we regard them as museum pieces and not in the way they were created: to be used.
These images from “Global Style” by Leslie Dilcock offer stunning examples of how the designers have seamlessly incorporated artistic, yet functional pieces into the scheme of their room designs.
Always looking to advance the notion of the connection of apparel to home fashion, we have created a series of ethniciti Sketches that form the basis of our online interior design service.
We are interested in how you might approach the design of of African-inspired interior spaces. Send us your ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let ethniciti inspire your room makeovers in our unique, African-inspired style.
Those who collect African art are a passionate group. However, it is not difficult to become overwhelmed with a collection. Often the best way to feature important artifacts is to integrate them seamlessly into the overall theme of the room rather than building mini-museums.
These examples from South African private worlds show how dramatic the approach can be.
Interiors are from the book “South Africa – Private Worlds” by Desmond Colborne, photography by Solvi Dos Santos.
If you are looking for unique interpretations of urban African-inspired design, look to Paris – a city known for fashion has long ago embraced a cultural-fusion approach to interiors.
This apartment by Christian Louboutin highlighted in New Paris Interiors (edited by Angelika Taschen) is a great example of how to marry a traditional urban space with a personal cultural aesthetic.
It’s the little things that count. We sometimes try to hard to compose the perfect accessory look. Most times the contents will provide the direction.
Think about your personal stamp – those objects you like to look at and touch daily and organize in simple groups that make great visual statements.
The vignettes pictured here are good examples of this personal, casual approach.
See more interiors in “The Way We Live with Color,” by Stafford Cliff (photography by Gilles de Chabaneix).
I am of the opinion that color and texture are the foundation of any well designed space, setting the pace and acting as a reference point for choices as home interior projects evolve.
Traditional African textiles have always provided me with this checkpoint. A new awareness and access to artisans and suppliers open up many opportunities to be unique. I discovered, through a reference from Fatimata Ly, a company that is producing a wonderful line of textiles and furnishings.
Tensira, founded by a designer who is a native of Finland, recalls her first journey to Africa and how she was captured by the beauty of African textiles. They are fabrics of well-being, totally ecological and filled with history.