So what does an Afro-centric home look like? I would like to think it’s a combination of locally available materials and redefining it in a way that suits our style. We have to stop looking out to the west and look for what is readily available around us. The question is how can we use these local and sometimes traditional materials in the way
that can work for a contemporary home. I have highlighted a few areas below.
We are blessed with wood, bamboo, shells and raffia. We can think out of the box and create furniture, doors, wall finishes and floor finishes in our own style. I absolutely love the look of stained bamboo on doors. It creates a natural unique modern look, sees the image. Similarly, carved pieces of wood can often be overlooked as being too traditional however one can create wonderful accents to simple pieces of furniture. We can create our own style using these materials and actually make them work for us.
Fabric and Texture
There is one thing that unites Africa and Africans in our distinctive use of fabric. We love prints, we love woven fabrics, fashion has really come alive in the last few years with the use of such fabrics. Why not incorporate this into interiors, many are doing so already through beaded and plain Ankara cushions. Weaving is an age-old craft and skill which has been passed down through generations we can think of commissioning our own modern woven designs that will work for our space. Or even just framing it as a piece of art. Think of the frame and balancing it with art so they don’t compete.
Nigerian Art is gaining serious grounds as it is very much in demand. We have so many talented artists around us producing first class price pieces at affordable prices. Take your time and go to exhibitions, particularly of up and coming artists and pick up a piece. When you buy art, try and find a piece that you connect with. Sounds strange but you’ll know when you see that special piece!
Thinking about colour is also key to creating that ambience. African design has traditionally been linked with bright colours such as yellow and red. However, having a neutral background or using colours such as taupe and grey gives a great backdrop to each piece. It’s a more sophisticated way of staging those items that you have carefully chosen over time. We can also use art to bring colour to the space.
Finally, let us remember that less is better than more in Afro-centric design. Let key pieces speak your design style for you. Art and pieces are often very bold and can hold their own. Let’s open our eyes and start to imagine the possibilities of the many natural materials around us. Happy exploring!
By Tola Akerele