Look! Incorporating Traditional African Prints

Look! Incorporating Traditional African Prints

Keehnan Konyha
Oct 8, 2008

The lobby of our building in Brooklyn occasionally serves as a sort of free bin, with stacks of old records and pieces of furniture (what's up with all the alarm clocks, guys?) piled in the corner. As we were leaving yesterday, we couldn't help but notice an overstuffed Patricia Field bag filled with... the kind of fabrics one would expect to be spilling out of a Patricia Field bag.

Sorting through the glitter and neon polka dot lycra and pleather, we discovered some fantastic versions of African prints, and started to wonder what we could turn them into...

Coincidentally, we had just finished reading Style Court's post on African patterns, and immediately brought them home.

Images via the David Hicks Archive

Images via Lobel Modern

Decorators have always had a penchant for incorporating what they considered exotic; in the 70s and 80s, star designers like David Hicks and Karl Springer often commissioned their own versions of bold fabrics inspired by travel abroad. Indian and African themes worked their way into the work via pieces sourced over seas and textiles they designed themselves.

Images via Style Court

In her Style Court post, Courtney references decorator Michael S. Smith's frequent use of subdued African fabrics, as well as Macy's "Shop For A Better World" program, which highlights gorgeous textiles made by Rwandan women. Also noted is "Design Without End", a show on African textile design currently on view at the Met.

Images via Macy's

While our free prints lack in quality, they're definitely not subtle, which could be a good thing if placed appropriately. If you sew (or even if you don't), would you put these to use? How so? (Points subtracted for any "burn them" comments, if only for being predictable.)

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