We are starting this week with a round up of links to past articles entirely dedicated to African design and interiors.
In fact, I decided to start two years ago on IB a column entirely dedicated to African design and style, as I have always been fascinated by this culture so far from ours and as I did not know so much about it. I was lucky enough to meet Alice, an Italian living in Dakar, who since then every month is writing about a different topic always related to African design, decor and lifestyle.
I strongly believe that the first way to fight against racism is being curious and knowing about different cultures and traditions, in order to appreciate them. In our small, hope that sharing about the value African culture in our industry can help in spreading the voice against black disparities and injustices.
Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Learning more about African Design and Interior Style
African décor ideas
Surprisingly, deciding to go for an African look is less difficult and audacious than what it seems. It doesn’t require neither to revolution your place nor to end up surrounded by ebony masks and other eccentric ornaments. Two simple rules shall guide you, though:
Continuing to explore the wood carving tradition, today let me introduce another striking and visually powerful object of the African craftsmanship: simple in the regular and geometric development of their decorative patterns, strong in their tribal evocative power, have a closer look at the beautiful Sun Masks from the Bwa people of Burkina Faso and see how they can easily become an original accent point among your walls.
Africa is an endless source of inspiration; a beautiful, charming and exotic place where an extremely rich cultural heritage merges with a natural and extraordinary talent for art; a magic huge land where creativity and skills abound, originating an impressive variety of décor items, each one representative of a specific tribal identity, with a unique story and function.
What is also very inspirational about Africa is the typical colours’ scheme in use, a rich and warm palette inspired by nature and raw materials, an ensemble of earthy, natural and warm tones capable to revive and enhance every room and space.
Today more than ever it is paramount to perceive our space as a place of calm, an oasis in the middle of this hectic world. And if readjusting our whole place might sounds like a mission impossible right now, let’s at least set aside a special corner for us, a niche just devoted to get rid of stress and negative emotions. A cozy reading corner is the perfect place for this.
Living in Africa and being a big fan of local handcrafts, it won’t surprise you to know that this part of my house has a clear and evident African touch. An ensemble of hand made pieces and decors that, properly mixed with other more western style items, contributes to recreate that classic, timeless and earthy atmosphere that I love so much.
If you too are an African Interiors enthusiast and on the look out for some fabulous inspirations to style or refresh your bedroom, keep reading and get charmed by these 10 amazing African style ideas to decorate with style.
Needless to say, for the decoration, I have deeply drawn on the rich African art and craftsmanship so easy to find here. The result is a cosy green open air space filled with local objects such as rattan chairs, wooden tables, tribal masks, braziers and terracotta vases, a homey corner where I love to snuggle to enjoy the nice warm breeze Dakar is delighting us with lately.
If you are a fan of the outdoor too, get inspired here and see how the ethno-chic style is versatile and equally capable to decor your outdoor and make it spectacular.
African traditional textiles
The proper Bambara (spoken language in Mali) term to refer to these kind of fabrics is Bogolanfini. The term is composed of three words: Bogo, meaning “earth” or “mud”, –lan, meaning “with” and –fini, meaning “cloth”. Hence, the translation currently in use, mud cloth.
In fact, Bogolan textiles are the result of a hand dyeing and painting process through fermented mud and leaves, a technique the ancient tribes of Mali use since the 12th century . The amazing fact is that the technique hasn’t changed since then.
West Africa is actually one of the few world areas where the Indigo dyeing has remained a fully natural and hand made process, while mostly everywhere else such an ancient technique has been replaced by chemical dyes and mechanical procedures.
The dyeing process is long and articulated: leaves and seeds of the Indigo plants are at first boiled, then brewed. Fabrics – strong quality hand woven cotton cloths – are then dipped into the dye and lifted into the air where, for a chemical reaction, they gradually turn blue; in most cases, many soaks are necessary to attain the intense hue of Indigo. Several dye resist techniques are applied before the soaking, such as tie dye, stitched and folded resist, wax batik, and starch resist, resulting in a variety of beautiful patterns.
Their name comes from the Kuba tribes who between the 17th and early 20th centuries established in what is today the south-eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of Africa’s largest and most powerful kingdom. Besides their great commercial abilities – which led them to control for centuries the trade of ivory and rubber – Kuba people were also renowned for their artistry to carve beautiful sculptures and masks, assemble meticulous bead-works and create elaborated textiles; in this last case, their talent and skills are particularity evident, as you will read, with the whole making process taking up to a year for the more complex patterns.
Referred to as African wax prints, or more commonly as wax, due to their production process that includes a wax-resist dyeing applied to the whole cloth, they are traditionally used by African women to sew their amazing dresses and foulards. But they are so beautiful, needless to say, original and versatile that lately they have gone global, becoming protagonists of both the international clothing fashion and of the home décor scenario.
It is easy to recognize that unique ethnic touch in the bold patterns and vivid colors, as well as in the raw materials and earthy tones that populate the current aesthetic vogues. Even big and popular names, like IKEA, have launched collections that feature creations inspired to the beauty and suggestions of the Black Continent; and according to the experts, the role of Africa in future trends will be more and more predominant.
And yet, it is mostly hard to give a name to the talented African designers behind the scenes; those brilliant minds whose work is leaving a mark, inspiring and innovating the international interior design scene. Let’s then meet some of them! Here are 5 African designers and creatives you should definitely know.
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.
African travels & lifestyle
Imagine being waked up slowly by a peaceful silence broken only by a delicate water sloshing, an harmonious birds chirping and other wildlife’s calls. Imagine peeking out on a labyrinth expanse of waterways, swampy islands and thick mangroves; all around you, as an idyllic framework, majestic baobabs and tall palms trees. The sky is clear and the temperature is perfectly mild; a soft breeze gently caresses you.
Magic, isn’t it? Well, you would be happy to know that this dream place really exists. It is located in Senegal, south east of Dakar, between the Petite Côte and the north of the Gambia.
Attention is raising on Senegal as a top tourist destination. So far, the beauties of this land have remained mostly undiscovered, especially to the non-French speaking people, but in the last few years, lights are on this vibrant country.
This is more than deserved! With its impressive natural and historical sights, mild climate, political stability, great facilities and flight connections, Senegal can’t just miss in your next holidays’ plans. Get inspired reading the top 10 things to do in Senegal.
What I am enjoying, as a fan of natural and chemical free products, is testing local organic ingredients as part of my beauty routine. There is such an abundance of high quality natural products here in Africa. And while some of them are pretty much famous, others totally proved to be a nice and unexpected surprise.
Curious about them? Keep reading then to discover 5 African natural beauty products you should definitely know!