In IKEA's new product line, West Elm's new catalog, and a few other places, we've noticed a trend towards Kuba-style pillows, rugs, and wall art. This classic African fabric has long been a favorite of decorators, but it seems to be flooding mainstream retailers this year.
Also known as raffia cloth, Kuba cloth is woven into geometric interlocking patterns. It's a traditional craft of the Kuba tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it's been appropriated many times by designers — everyone from high-end designers like Charles and Ray Eames to mass-market retailers like World Market.
The current crop of Kuba-style textiles evoke the diamond patterns, black-and-white or neutral color schemes, and hand-woven look of this traditional African fabric. The difference between contemporary Kuba-style fabrics and the real thing is visible in the details. Newer styles are machine-made (not hand-woven) and the pattern is often silkscreened or printed on the fabric, rather than embedded into it. A few photos above (including numbers 7, 9, and 10) show traditional Kuba fabric, and the difference is visible — even in photos — compared to contemporary versions (like photos 1, 2, and 5).
- Vilmie Figur Pillow from IKEA
- Living Room from West Elm
- Bedroom from West Elm
- Kuba Cloth Pillows from Pfieffer Studio
- Kuba Cloth Pillows from Wisteria
- Kuba Bedding from Bed, Bath, and Beyond
- Interior from Veranda Magazine
- Wayfair Wall Art
- Kuba Cloth Pillow from Jayson Home & Garden
- Lucite Chair Upholstered in Kuba Cloth from 1st Dibs
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