Mention African design, and mud cloth, batik prints, animal skin, scary masks and clay pots come to mind. But there is a whole new style of African design emerging, one that plays more on our natural strengths and materials than on the blatantly obvious. The whole world is moving back to natural on the one side and in super-contrast, to high-tech on the other. And with Africa as the cradle of humankind, it is only natural that designers are coming back to the African continent for their inspiration – whether it is high or low tech. Alternative African design is going to be big in 2017 because there is a new wave of creativity coming from the continent in unexpected and original ways.
Where tropical greens and birds of paradise were very trendy for the last couple of years, Pantone has hinted that its colour of the year for 2017 may just be a more subdued kale, hinting of a subtropical landscape. Other colours in the Pantone spring palette are sky blues, deep orange and yellow, and pops of pale and bright pink – reminiscent of an African landscape and sunset. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate this growing trend for all things alternative African in your home.
These beauties are from Hellooow Handmade. They are made by a group of women affected by HIV so besides being lovely to look at, they also play an important role in empowering a community in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Hand-rolled from recycled paper clay, kiln-fired and then strung onto a wrought iron frame, these chandeliers will become an amazing feature in any room in your home. Colours and designs are both customizable, so let your imagination run wild!
Do a bit of peacocking with this feathery Juju hat from Cameroon. Handmade with raffia, feathers and twine, this unique and delicately hand made head piece is sure to make a statement on your head or wall. Available online from Etsy.
Here are a few other inspiring local pieces that celebrate the vast collection of patterns, flora, techniques, materials and innovation that Africa has to offer.
- Acacia Thorn Umbrella – Kudu
- Choctaw Cushion by Hertex – Superbalist
- Cotton Hand Woven Quill Blanket – Mungo
- Die Swart Hings floor lamp – Jan Douglas
- Short Indigo Jar by Love Milo – Nonna
- Delphine Bar Stool – Superbalist
- X Table – Superbalist
I look forward to exploring this trend further in 2017 – watch this space!