One thing that really caught my eye when I first leafed through Michael S. Smith Houses was the designer's use of African textiles. The pillows in the foreground in both images above are just a few examples, representing Smith's affinity for cross-cultural decorating.
Coincidentally, currently on view at the Met is the exhibition, The Essential Art of African Textiles: Design Without End. Above is a piece from the show, a 19th-century Kente prestige cloth from Ghana. The Met explains that in this example, "the vertical stripes present rhythms of repetition that are not immediately discernable. To vary the pattern further, the colorful asymmetrical strips are set in opposite directions so that they mirror each other."
And Macy's just expanded the offerings in its Shop for a Better World collection. Many of the hand-crafted wares come from Rwanda. The patterned baskets are among my favorites.
Macys has been working with the women of Rwanda for several years selling their handmade products in stores and online to directly help genocide survivors. According to the department store, the venture is all about fair trade not aid.
Offered in neutrals and vibrant colors, the baskets work with traditional or modern interiors, and they are reasonably priced -- ranging from about $12 to $75. So this endeavor benefits a U.S. based business as well as the women of Rwanda.
Also available in the Shop for a Better World are Rwandan textiles -- chic napkins and other linens -- and one of a kind gifts handmade by artisans in other countries including Indonesia and Cambodia (countries that continue to recover from disaster.)
Visit Macy's to learn more. To see how the rhythmic geometrics of Africa inspired David Hicks, click here.
The two images at top are from ©Michael S. Smith Houses by Michael Smith and Christine Pittel, Rizzoli New York, 2008.
Afterthought: For a while I've been admiring these hand-carved African stools designed by Philippe Stark for the Hotel Mondrian on Sunset Boulverd in Los Angeles. Seems like a nice time to incorporate them into a post. Currently they are available through Hollywood at Home.