Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016

10.07.2008

African Patterns


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.

12 comments:

Mrs. Blandings said...

Can't wait to get my mitts on that book. A great post as always and the baskets are so graphic and strong.

Style Court said...

I think the red-and-white would look so cool on a coffee table or in the right kitchen.

Thanks as always Patricia -- you are going to LOVE the book!

Paul Pincus said...

these patterned baskets are stunning. i'm in love with the first image...wow!

that book does sound wonderful. thanks, courtney : )

Style Court said...

Paul, so glad you like the baskets!

Karena said...

Beautiful graphics and weaves on these baskets, love the lidded ones!

Style Court said...

Hi Karena -- the lidded ones would be great on a bookshelf, maybe in a group :)

dwellings and decor said...

That photo with the orange and white bowl with the leaf background is so cool!

Style Court said...

dwellings -- it is a great image!

AphroChic said...

Courtney, I just wanted to share with you that the Macy's Shop for a Better World is indeed a wonderful cause. I'm proud to say that one of my dear friends developed the partnership between Macy's and the women of Rwanda, and that this project is truly impacting these women's live in the most positive ways, and helping them to build economic self sufficiency. When I got married two years ago, the women of Rwanda were wonderful enough to make small pink and white baskets for my wedding. We shared them with everyone who attended, told them the stories of these women, and how they were building their own path to peace. Not only are these baskets beautiful, but every purchase really does make a great difference in this world.

Style Court said...

Jeanine -- I'm so happy to hear this from you!

It's wonderful to get your perspective and I know everyone appreciates it. Also your wedding baskets sound beautiful!

I'm very impressed with what I've seen offered at Macy's.

Amisha said...

These are beautiful things. Thank you for sharing them. I really enjoy visiting your blog. I blogged about your blog today. I wanted my friends to see your blog too.

Style Court said...

Oh thanks so much Amisha! I appreciate it.