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Five iconic African seatings to fall in love with

African design | Five iconic African seatings to fall in love with

If you are following my column here, by now you should be familiar with the fundamentals of the African décor style as well with the basic techniques to recreate that magic ethnic atmosphere at your place.

Today, let me take you deeper and focus on one of the most common as well as important handcraft of the African tradition.  Let’s talk about seatings and specifically about 5 iconic pieces from around the Black Continent, all different in shape, composition and function but, as you will see, equally magnificent and able to embellish any interior.

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I am sure you will fall in love with them, as I did.



Local carved wood in different nuances: a must have for afro style lovers! via 


Iconic African Seatings #1 | Bamileke stools

The Kings of the Bamileke tribes of Cameroon used to sit on these stools during religious ceremonies; they are entirely hand made from a continuous piece of wood through a meticulous process: the stump is at first soaked it in the river to make it soft and workable; the hard wood is then skillfully carved to represent the earth spider, symbol of divine wisdom.  

To me, they have a really special look: the carving transmit a feeling of lightness and airy elegance, which beautifully contrasts with the earthy look of the two plates.  In different sizes and nuances, they fit well in any space, used as stools or as side tables.

Beautifully carved motives via

Bamileke stools are versatile and make great coffee or side tables via 


Iconic African Seatings #2 | Senufo stools

Meant for everyday activities, these wooden stools and benches come from the Senufo people of Ivory Coast, Mali and Burkina Faso. They are as well made from an entire piece of wood, small in size and almost close to the ground, with a concave top and thick and robust legs.

In their pure simplicity, I think they have an astonishing sculptural power and an elegant minimalism, perfect to recreate anywhere in the house a neat clean view with the addition of an ethnic chic note.


A well defined and clean shape to match any interior via 

Almost a sculpture, they are also great as a stand alone pieces via 


Iconic African Seatings #3 | Malawi chairs

Switching to a totally different concept of seating, meet the Malawian armchairs,  handwoven from local artisans using rattan strips recreating intricate patterns along the sides of the chairs and the seat. Strips are secured with knots and in order to create a curved barrel back, artisans temporarily insert in the pattern spare parts from bicycles or cars.

Malawi chairs have a natural elegance and a versatile allure that make them perfect as dining chairs or as occasional chairs, in the entranceway or in the bedroom.

Needles to say, they are just perfect for the outdoor!


Just the pureness and light of natural rattan via 

Perfect dining chairs for any outdoor space via


Iconic African Seatings #4 | West African weaved chairs

These comfortable chairs are hand woven in Senegal and in most West Africa using recycled plastic strips and round welded metal frames. They can be easily found here in Dakar, in expensive boutiques as well as in street stands, in ever possible color and many different sizes, including super cute play sets for kids’ rooms.


A splash of bright colors via

Many different sizes are available via 


With their bright and colorful patterns they are great accent chairs for the indoor as well as cozy lounge chairs for the outdoor.


Iconic African Seatings #5 | Yoruba armchairs

And finally my latest crush: Yoruba armchairs from Nigeria, made with thousands of tiny beads meticulously hand-weaved upon a background fabric. Traditionally used as thrones by the kings and queens of the Yoruba tribes, each armchair is unique and their décor tells a story of wealth, power, strength and wisdom.


Each piece is unique and tells the peculiar story of a royal family via     

Have a closer look: these are thousands of tiny beads! via


I think they are just amazing: they have a gipsy appearance without being too frilly;  they are cheekily colorful but their geometric or regular patterns manage to communicate a sober grace.  

To be set as in your room an art piece, rather than just a chair!

Curious about other cool iconic seatings from around the world and the story behind? Have a look here!