I’ve always had a thing for animal print. You name it – shoes, purses, faux fur coats – I love it! But the thing about animal print is you can only wear a little bit of it at any one time or it becomes OTT and a big old mess. The same principle applies to interiors too, especially if, like me, you’re channeling the global look. Go too far and boom, you’re in ‘themed room’ territory, and let’s face it that was done to death in the 1990s by Changing Rooms and the like (ah, the memories….). But I digress. Today’s post showcases a fantastic trend – modern tribal. I have no idea if that’s what its actually called, but if not, that’s the name I’m giving it from here on in. It looks a little like this:
The photo above is from an excellent post by Elle at splendidhabitat.com, showcasing more of this trend, which you should definitely check out if you like what you see (after you’ve read my post, of course, don’t go just yet!). It sums up my take on modern tribal design – and look, no animal print in sight! What you do see are natural materials (look at the stunning detailing on the wooden bench, the antler – as seen in a number of Scandinavian interiors lately, and the rustic nightstand), lots of texture (the fluffy rug and cushion and the grey felt headboard) alongside bold textiles like the mudcloth on the end of the bed. Put together this creates a look that is simply stunning and as far from a themed room as you can get.
Modern tribal is a versatile trend that works with a range of other styles and looks. A few choice pieces can add a tribal touch to any room – you don’t have to go the whole hog. For example, wicker baskets can bring some additional natural texture and add a major tribal statement without it looking too cliche. The below shot shows Zambian Makenge baskets used as super stylish wall art and I think it looks fabulous.
Similar baskets, as well as a wide range of other traditional African wicker baskets, are available from my perennial favourite Couleur Locale. The ones below cost EUR99 and are handwoven by the Mbunda women of the Zambezi river region of South Africa, using the roots of the Makenge bush. The baskets are all unique as the women create their own natural dyes using boiled leaves and decorate them according to their own tastes and traditions. The baskets can take up to a month to complete! The ones for sale (like these below) by Couleur Locale are old baskets that have been repaired to ensure continued use (though if they’re on your wall they probably don’t need to be reinforced that much….).
Alternatively, you can opt for a major statement piece of decoration like the Juju hat (which I want, want, want – am currently having an internal battle as to whether to give in and buy one online or wait until I finally go to Cameroon despite such a trip being years away…..decisions….). Just look at how cool these are!
So, yes, Juju hats. Otherwise known as Bamileke ceremonial headdresses, Juju hats are Cameroonian in origin and are usually worn by royalty, senior politicians and local dignitaries at ceremonies and special events. The hats are made across sub-Saharan Africa by local villagers in grass, wood and feathers, often taking 2-3 days to complete. The hats have increased in popularity in recent years and have now become an interior design staple. I’ll confess that I hadn’t seen them until recently, but now that I have I am absolutely hooked. Unfortunately for me, they’re not cheap. But compared to the cost of a holiday to get one first hand – not to mention trying to stuff one in my suitcase – an online purchase may well be the most sensible option!
Luckily, I’ve spotted them for sale at one of my favourite globally inspired online stores, Rockett St George. Yippee! And there’s loads of different colours available, though my favourite is the white one shown below. I think I’ll start saving now…I mean £195 is just a few coffees and shop bought lunches right?!
My final key piece that you can introduce to your home for a subtle tribal hint is the traditional African mudcloth. Also known as Bogolanfini, this is a handmade Malian cotton fabric that is dyed using a process of fermented mud. Here is an excellent article from Design Sponge (a great source of interiors inspiration that you should totally look up – later, not now, you’re almost finished here) which explains in more detail the history of Malian mudcloth, including how its made, and what the various patterns mean. Who would have known that there could be so much of a tale behind a simple textile?
There are loads of examples of this gorgeous fabric online. I found the cushion cover below on Etsy.com (though its now sold out – boo), and I also came across a great UK store called africanfabric.co.uk which sells a huge variety of, yup, you guessed it, African fabrics, including some stunning mudcloths. If you’re crafty with a sewing machine you can make up your own cushion covers or throws for a truly unique look.
What do you think of my take on modern tribal? And are you showcasing any tribal pieces in your home? I’d love to see them in situ if you are. And if (more likely when…) I indulge in a Juju hat (ok fine, or the Makenge baskets or the mudcloth fabric – I genuinely only show things I love on here which means a high chance of me buying them!) I promise to show it off for you guys too.
Happy travels and shopping,