Posted by AfroElle On 2:15 AM
African fashion is seeing an unprecedented amount of exposure on haute couture runways across the globe. However, when we think of fashion, home is usually not the first place to come to mind. It is quite easy to indulge in new looks, but like any trend it takes some constraint to decide what works best for you. African inspired interiors are a bona fide style with its own design aesthetic – and lucky for us it is here to stay. The spirit of Africa can be translated into most homes ranging from subtle whispers to jubilant cheers that scream Mama Africa! Whether you are looking to achieve an eclectic, modern, or a sophisticated high-end look, all it takes is some creativity and ethnic details to see it through.
Color: When designing a room, color is the most personal choice that one can make. Fortunately, taking inspiration from the African continent spans the entire color palette. Neutral earth tones such as brown, grey, white, green, orange, and some reds provide a warm and rich backdrop. Vibrant colors such as purple, blue, red, and yellow can radiate a cheerfulness that can be both soulful and uplifting.
Texture: Texture is an important element in any design. It describes the tactile surface of an object and offers visual depth to a space. African inspired spaces takes cue from nature here. Natural elements from the porcelain like finish of cowrie shells that adorn many African items to rough fibers which are used as flooring to hand-woven baskets. Texture also breaks up the monotony of similarly shaped or colored items.
Textiles: The African continent hosts a vast world of textiles such as Mud cloth, Kuba Cloth, Indigo, Adire, and Kente Cloth. Many of the weaving and dying processes have been passed down through centuries and can be found in interpreted in contemporary rooms as pillows, curtains, table runners, tapestries, throws, and upholstery on furniture.
Patterns: Gladly, we have moved beyond the notion that zebra, lion, and giraffe prints represent the only patterns of the continent. Wax print fabrics, tribal designs, and motifs with Adinkra symbols communicate messages that give our spaces greater purpose and meaning.
Art: African art comes in diverse media’s dating from centuries ago to today. Sculptures, masks, paintings, woodwork and handicrafts all offer exquisite expressions of African life. Art gives a space more visual power and feature the innovation and creativity of the artist.
Furniture and Accessories: Utilizing traditional pieces such as an Ashanti or Bamileke stool, as an accent table is a great way to incorporate traditional pieces in your home. Accessories should be placed thoughtfully and are the perfect opportunity to display your sentimental pieces, collectables, or treasures from your travels.
I hope that I have given you some valuable information to inspire you when designing your own space. Traditionally speaking, African homes were never just decorated for the sake of doing so. Rather homes reflected tribal identifications, spiritual, and/or social messages like marriage, birth, and more. Today we have greater access than ever, much like the runaways, to choose and reclaim our history. By doing so we are able to capture both the complexity and the beauty of Africa, right in our very homes.
Amani Bush is the Founder and Creative Director of Amani at Home, an ethnic décor and home furnishings company based in Washington, DC. Amani specializes in creating African-inspired spaces she refers to “Afropolitan” home décor. Amani is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and holds a certificate in African American Studies. In addition, she is the Executive Director of Roots to Freedom, a nonprofit that promotes the study of African & African Diaspora life, history, and culture through education. In her spare time she enjoys international travel, decorating her home, and her newest pastime of cooking ethnic cuisine.
For more information on Amani's work follow her on Twitter, visit her shop or read her blog.