Looking ahead to February has us thinking about African American History Month. There’s such rich cultural and artistic history to be celebrated, not the least of which are the colorful and lush textures of African art and design.
Our particular lane here at KOVI is upholstery and furniture and how to use them to lift your spaces into all that you dream they can be. So in honor of the month ahead, we thought it would be fun to spend some time exploring ways to incorporate African art and design into your home or office decor.
With textiles and artistic elements dating back well over 100,000 years, there’s a “next-level” richness and energy to the colors and textures in so much African art and decor. Those same next-level possibilities, however, at first glance often conflict with the vibe of some of the common modern decor we’re used to. That can make bringing those vibrant and deep textures and tones into your home or office a bit intimidating.
Today, we’ll make it just a bit easier. We’ll look at how to incorporate African-inspired art, colors, and textures into your space. Whether you’re wanting to go big or start small we’ll talk through how to approach it all.
Now (obviously) Africa is a large and diverse continent so forgive us the wild generalities for the purpose of our quick blog post-sized “how-to” primer. Broadly speaking, when most of us think of African-inspired fabrics and decor, we don’t think subtle. We think of bold patterns and prints, exotic-looking art pieces. It’s unapologetic and uniquely its own style — which we simply adore.
The trick is to let the rich colors and textures shine but not overwhelm a space. It’s actually not dissimilar to deciding to bring any bold color or texture into your design. This is your opportunity to feature and showcase something. Think accents.
Decor elements in African interior design are decidedly earthy. Everything is rooted in the natural. Colors are warm and rich as if pulled straight from the land itself or the hues of the deepest sunset. And art is often derived from natural elements like wood and grasses. The boldness comes in with the frequent use of heavily saturated colors and evocative patterns that contrast rather than blend.
With that in mind, consider an accent wall in your space. Take an otherwise pale or muted room and bring deep brown or burgundy tones to one wall. Take it even further with drapes flush with patterns and texture. Something like our multipurpose cotton fabric, Domino, with its abstract black and white pattern will really frame out well against that dark accent wall. Just one wall can set the energy of an entire room, pulling the eye and amping up the impact.
Besides your walls, there’s your furniture. Taking all of your furniture in a heavily patterned and/or boldly colored direction may prove to be more visual noise than harmony. But an accent chair or sofa can bring the vibe without sending the overall look sideways.
Make that sofa the undisputed anchor of your room with recycled leather in Ebony, built to call to mind the darkness of African ebony wood. Send your favorite armchair on safari with a cozy (but performance grade) microfiber like Beige Jaguar print. Make bedtime even more inviting than it already is by conjuring up the endless African skies with a subtle diamond pattern upholstery in Azure blue.
The beauty of all of this is that — unlike other design theme choices — African-inspired interior design doesn’t need to take over a room in order to set the tone and vibe for that room. Bake it into the design foundation with just a bold anchor accent.
If you’re not ready to go all-out with African decor, then try breaking the theme up. Think smaller accents. This will soften the look and make it easier for you to experiment in more subtle — but still impactful — ways. Plus, it’s fun.
We’re huge fans of the power of home accessories to shift and renew the look of your home or office whether for holidays, special events, a basic refresh, or to polish off your otherwise A+ interior design game. Thanks to the earthy tones and textures and bold patterns in African design, smaller decor choices have more power than ever to bring pop rather than clamor and really make a space sing.
Start with the basics. Stick with your crisp, smooth solids for your furniture upholstery, but dial it up to African style with some throw pillows with a pattern that jumps out like the bold geometric look of our Onyx Key. Keep the energy of your space light and airy while bringing in some whispers of nature and texture with an abstract ivory-colored fabric embroidered with feathers. Add a throw blanket with an African theme that suits your space and your fancy and — tada — you’ve accented your furniture.
Next, look to your tables and walls. Again, you don’t need a lot of African-inspired decor to make a huge impression. Scroll through this gallery of ideas to get some inspiration. Essentially, the uniqueness and natural energy of so many small pieces of African art, or even just branches and driftwood, bring such a contrast to the typical decor aesthetic that they instantly pull the eye and transform a space.
And add a bit of wall art and let it shine against an otherwise simple palette. Use a print to offer the expanse and awe of African plains. Or bring in more of the handmade feel and character with baskets, masks, or other uniquely African pieces sure to become conversation starters.
Look down. Your floor is a blank canvas. Add a woven area rug that grounds your space in natural textures and sets the vibe with a distinct pattern. Or go super authentic with an animal hide like a zebra or leopard — faux, of course. And don’t overlook that ottoman or side tables. Skip the commitment of your walls or large pieces of furniture but still get that visual oomph by adding a small piece like a coffee table, ottoman, poof, or side table in keeping with the theme — or just reupholster your old one.
It’s no surprise that a continent that’s also known as “The Cradle of Civilization,” has more than a few extraordinary offerings when it comes to art and design. Its diverse landscapes, people, and interior design themes offer colors and textures unlike anywhere else on earth.
That’s why, during African American History Month this year, we hope part of how you’ll celebrate includes spending some time gaining inspiration from African-inspired art and design and bringing those traditions into your home or office. And, as you do, we’re here to help you find just the right fabrics to truly fulfill your wildest African-inspired decor vision.