Friday, March 8, 2013

Trendwatch: African Influence

One of the most talked-about design trends for 2013 is African-influenced style.  Of course this comes as music to our ears--our love for leopard print and Moroccan-inspired rugs is no secret.  What we're loving most about what we've seen for this trend so far, though, is that many designers are taking more subtle and unusual approaches.

One of our favorite African-influenced rooms is this bathroom by Martyn Lawrence Bullard.  That perfect shade of peach makes us feel like we're watching the sun set over the Sahara.  Grounding that lightness with the black-framed picture keeps the room so chic.  Pairing the traditional curtains with the African-inspired side table gives the room great balance (the challenge with rooms inspired by a continent is that an inspiration can easily become a theme (i.e.: "tribal") and then you're left with a room that's at best cheesy and at worst offensive).  And we just want to take a bath in that tub.

We also adore this living room.  Doing a zebra print in yellow makes it unexpected, as does placing it in such an eclectic space.  If you had asked us before today whether a massive painting of a nun is a good idea in a living room, we would have said no.  We would have been so wrong.

Thinking about trying an African-inspired look? We're obsessed with this African bone-inlay box from Revival Home, featured recently on One Kings Lane.
No cash for a real bone-inlaid piece?  We recently found these stencils for a DIY that gives you the feel of the real thing for the cost of a little paint!

We're also deeply in love with this antique Ewe Kente rug from Nazmiyal Collection.  We'd let it be the star of a bedroom with the metal Marquette bed from Home Decorators and the white Linblomma and Ofelia bedding from IKEA, which we talked about last week.  Remember Solange Knowles's bedroom?  Similar look.

Italian furniture designer Philippe Bestenheider has made some amazing Ghanaian-inspired outdoor furniture for Varaschin that we'd use indoors, too.  We'd pair this Kente Poltrona Lounge chair with the West Elm Parsons Desk in Chocolate:

(Speaking of West Elm parsons desks and bone inlay, their bone inlay parson's desk is to die for.)

West Elm is a great place to look for African-inspired and African-designed pieces.  We'd use the Wola Nani Trays (created by HIV-positive South African women--happy International Women's Day!) on a desk, dresser, or buffet:

The Ceramic Matters Thorn Vases would look great on a mantle or console table:

And the Senufo Bench would be an amazing statement piece in a modern home:

All this said, there's a little part of us that still believes in going big or going home.  So we always appreciate a bold statement done tastefully.  If subtle isn't your style, here are some daring uses of zebra print (which can go so tacky, so fast!) that don't fall into that cliched, ambiguously "ethnic" look.

Would you go subtle or bold in an African-inspired room?


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