Now Trending: Modern African-Inspired Interior Design

Atlanta-based designers Tavia Forbes and Monet Masters of Forbes + Masters spotlight a growing trend on their radar: contemporary interior design inspired by the artwork, fabrics and spirit of Africa.

October 14, 2020
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Photo By: Ilya Zabanov

Photo By: Ilya Zabanov

Photo By: Ilya Zabanov

Photo By: Ilya Zabanov

Photo By: Ilya Zabanov

Photo By: Ilya Zabanov

Photo By: Ilya Zabanov

Photo By: Kimberly Murray

Photo By: Kimberly Murray

Photo By: Kimberly Murray

Photo By: Kimberly Murray

Photo By: Kimberly Murray

Contemporary, Trending Africa-Inspired Interior Design

Modern Afro-inspired style has seen a recent explosion across the globe, especially in the luxury interior design industry. African-inspired products and decor elements are in increasing demand, in a sort of “from-Africa-to-the-world” movement. This is often characterized by bold geometric patterns, distinct textures and a versatile use of earthy and vibrant colors such as shades of ocher. At the forefront of this movement are designers like Ethiopia’s Hana Getachew and Nigeria’s Eva Sonaike, who fuel the global interest in Afrocentric decor by infusing the “African” aesthetic in their lines of high-end decor accessories and handwoven fabrics. Much like them, Forbes + Masters strives to include this authentic design element into their interior designs. Following are illustrations of how you can identify the distinct character of this modern African-centric decor style and ways to introduce this look into your own home.

Learn More : Atlanta Designers Forbes + Masters Dish About Design

The Centrality of Mud Cloth

A common trend in the high-end industry is the use of mud-cloth on statement pieces in an Afrocentric interior. Mud cloth is made in Mali through a traditional technique that involves dying cotton fabric with fermented mud, creating strong ethnic patterns that embolden furniture pieces. The use of this fabric allows you to incorporate non-traditional patterns into your design scheme. It can be used to upholster furniture or in drapery to create bold statement pieces for your home.

Learn More : 8 Ways to Bring African Pattern Home

Travel Mementos as Decor

A good way to introduce a simplified Afrocentric look is in the use of figurines and small elements of African origin like these giraffes and talking drum. Pieces such as those shown, often picked up during travels, add an element of authenticity to the space and can pay homage to your travels or culture.

Small, Significant Details Make the Difference

Here, Afrocentric vibes are infused in this luxurious living area through adire fabric throw pillows. Adire is produced by a special tie-dye technique commonly used in southwestern Nigeria by Yoruba women, from as far back as the early 20th century. An element like the adire fabric not only adds an Afrocentric vibe but also texture and depth to the living space.

Vibrant Textures

This space shows us how bold color and organic lines create texture and depth.

The Power of the Pillow

Afrocentric vibes are subtly introduced through the use of vibrantly colored paintings, textured surfaces, and select accent throw pillow pieces to crown it all. In recent years, throw pillows as accent decor pieces have become an increasingly popular Afrocentric decor infusion.

Honoring Culture

In contrast to the older African decor style characterized by safari elements, the modern Afro-inspired decor style is much more minimalist with bold statement pieces that exude a lot of character. What started off as an over-use of prints and faux wild fur has now graduated into the more exquisite design and material choices that reflect the years of tradition and culture from diverse cultures in Africa.

Afro-Chic Dining Space

In keeping with the idea of elevating Afrocentric design, this room illustrates the power of a bold patterned print paired with sleek contemporary design. African-inspired decor pieces can be added to different interior decor styles, creating a highly desired eclectic and exotic feel. Here we see a highly sophisticated breakfast banquette that gives nod to Afrocentric style.

Of the Earth

The materials that define Afrocentric decor style are simple: wood and clay authentic to Africa. These natural elements lend themselves to the culture of native Africans. Living off the land, using the earth's natural gifts to their full capacity and then taking those elements and incorporating them into a space adds depth and interest to a room.

Global Design

Here we see a few elements of African-inspired design incorporated into this on-trend bedroom. This bright space is elevated by the use of mixed textures and color. The use of rope as art lends itself to a rough, raw feel and the art piece adds color while paying homage to the cultures of Africa.

Learn More : A Design-Savvy Duo's Enviable NYC Digs

Fiber Art

Here we see the use of traditionally dyed fabric used as pillows on this bed. This mixed with the textured throw, and wood wall, subtly evoke African inspiration. The woven wicker baskets used in a non-traditional way add to the overall design and provide an unexpected touch.

The Design Community Is Embracing African and Global Design

The high-end design industry is progressively embracing the Afrocentric decor movement. You can incorporate this growing trend into your space as well. Here we see a beautifully styled cozy living space with mixed materials — leather, grasscloth, mud cloth and wood. When designing to incorporate an African feel, look to African designers and fabric makers and consider using leather, wood, clay and artworks sourced from African countries.

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