Tag Archives: African-American design

Modern African Inspired

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.


ethniciti Tablescapes

As part of an exhibition on African-inspired design at the King Arts Complex in Columbus, Ohio, we crated a series of tabletop vignettes.  The fusion of crystal, French amber, and silver settings gave us a chance to create a truly high-style African-inspired dining experience.

The Finishing Touch: The Personal Stamp of Cecil Hayes

The rise and fall of any well designed room depends upon the finishing touches. Each surface offers an opportunity to create a personal stamp. Cecil Hayes has captured dramatically how critical the accents to a room will be.

Table tops, wall groupings, artifact placement – all help tell the story and hint at the inspiration for the room.  In these spaces she has artfully fused traditional as well as contemporary furniture with African-inspired textiles and art for unique expression of her clients’ tastes. Well done Cecil.

Photos from Cecil Hayes’ book, 9 Steps to Beautiful Living.

African-Inspired Design for Your Living Room

Self-Expression from an African Perspective

Ethiopia’s Surma and Mursi tribes in the southwest Omo River valley region present a unique perspective on self-expression in the African style.  As a result of their nomadic lifestyle, location near lush vegetation, and inventive nature, tribe members have taken body painting and adornment to a new level of creativity which has inspired the color palette for ethniciti collections.

Sophisticated color palette

Colors taken directly from nature, the various strata of rock in the vast Rift Valley geologic formation, yield subtle shades of ochre, red, pure white, off white, and light gray.  Green is obtained from stone found in the riverbed.  The canvas for this sophisticated mixture of colors is the flesh of the tribe members, a reddish, copper hue, lighter in shade and more reflective of light rays compared to the darker skin of the Ugandans, Kenyans, and Sudanese to the south and west.

Natural accessorization

Flora and fauna found near the river – grass, leaves, stems, flowers, roots, shells, nuts, wild fruit, papyrus, and gourds- are accessories to this creation of natural fashion.

Shapes and forms

The amazing and aesthetically brilliant juxtapositions of color, texture, shape, and form, are not pondered and studied.  Spontaneity is key to the effects achieved with body painting done rapidly to preserve the natural colors.  Pigments created using water and stone fragments dry within a minute’s time. The result is a creative work worthy of any modern artist or fashion designer, but with the natural freedom of childhood.

The design spirit of the Surma and Mursi exemplifies ethniciti’s philosophy of organized eclecticism, freedom of self-expression, and African-inspired design.  We have organized items from our five collections – foundations, décor, bon appétit, boudoir, entre nous, into color groups based upon palettes inspired by the Omo River valley tribes.  What do you think?


Photography by Hans Silvester in his book, Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa.