Considering this is my very first blog, I wanted to use this opportunity to introduce the subject matter. Being in the industry of selecting, marketing, buying and selling African decor over the past eight years as well travelling to the African continent annually I have placed much importance in attempting to assess our customers’ needs and cravings with regard to African design and style versus the trends and direction of the inspiration, design and production of African Decor at its source. Numerous factors come into play in both what our customers seek as well as the marketplace offerings in this vast continent. Customers, designers and decorators generally seeks a product that meets one or more of the following styles: contemporary, modern, eclectic, traditional, historic, trendy, formal, and casual. These criterion are of paramount importance during our buying trips to Africa with regard to our assessment, selection and purchasing of African decor. Coupled with this, we have to take into account other factors dealing with this vast continent. These may include: tradition, symbolism, culture, rituals, diverse societies, natural sources, logistics, and inspirations. Holistically, the diversity and differences of the peoples of Africa enable our product selection process, one that is encapsulated with choice, variety and versatility, to be a challenging yet thrilling opportunity. Our annual buying trips to the continent allows us not only to draw on the ideas and creativity of the artists but also to gain a close up perspective of the present and future trends of this niche.
With such varied options, it is often the case that we are faced with an abundance of options. I like to give our customers a varied selection, which can represent a wide array of possibilities driven by the specialities, expertise, creativity and talents of different communities and regions. Yes, these endless choices can be overwhelming but choice is fundamentally important when the styles our customers seek can be totally different. Your choices are made easier when one considers that often an African accessory, be it a carving, a figurine or a statuette, can take on many representations that it may well fulfill many styles. African style can have many faces, how it can fit into your home is often yours and your decorators biggest challenge. Our objective with these blogs is to help you get there, not by telling what product will and will not work in your home, but rather giving you some insight into the areas, from our perspective, that I believe dictate and drive African style:
3.Tribal influence and culture
No, it is not meant to resolve you home decor selection dilemma's, but to rather provide you with some inspiration and ideas.
In our next blog posting we will discuss the background, use and influence of "color" in African design and style.
African Design and Style - Session Two - Color
"Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration" (Marc Chagall)
Africa is known round the globe for its colorful culture, electrifying festivals and rich traditions. The African culture and tradition is full of vibrancy and color that is admirable and hard to miss. Each of Africa’s indigenous African ethnic group’s use of color has often significant meanings and symbolism. It has over generations, inspired artists and designers in many different forms. Subjects can include painted faces, to colorful exterior patterns and color for their homes, textiles, murals, jewelry and dress, every ethnic group across the continent has different ideas about color and the use of color. In most instances across Africa, color has meaning and serves as a form of imagination. It could represent danger, love, masculine, feminine, power, marriage, and celebration. It can often be coupled with the African landscape and richness and diversity of its people and cultures.
Color, for many African ethnic groups is a means of definition, understanding the world around them and reflecting it to their own cultural and social lifestyles.
With regard to decorating in an African style, colors can range from earth tones, to pastels, to reds, to blues. Your color selection must best fit your atmosphere and capture what and who you are. The color tones you use that are dictated by your selection of the paint color you use for your home. This is your base and your color selection is pivotal in the mood and atmosphere you wish to imbue. Looking at African inspired products can form a great way as an inspiration for the atmosphere you would like to set. Experimentation is key, and the ability to test the accents you have in mind with color of your room and visa versa is vital. Finding that right balance can be challenging, but this investment of your time before selection and commitment is a worthwhile exercise in finding that right atmosphere. African style can be so diverse and contrasting and entertain many moods, so you have endless possibilities and options. One of the wonderful opportunities you have with creating an African inspired environment is with a vast choice of color, the ability to create different moods in a particular setting.
African accents, be it a piece of textile, a mask or figurine, a wall hanging, a floor or table display, can satisfy a variety of different color scheme fulfilling different moods creating varied atmospheres. Here are some examples:
1. Browns – Brown color scheme can compliment many wood forms you already have or are considering for your home. These forms can be furniture or even hardwood floors. It is wonderful medium for covering chairs, sofas and even tables. It can also be used effectively as a wall hanging, complimenting your paint color and creating an earthy richness.
2. Reds – A popular color in many African traditions, this color can create a prominent look and form a wonderful contrast to some of the other African color schemes. Success and achievement is often associated with the color red to many African cultures. It is a color that can add vibrancy and excitement to your home style.
3. Yellows – Want to create a cheerful, airy and bright home environment?
4. Blues – Blues often add a calming and soulful look to your home. Much of African style accents tend to be in a deep blue, but with the depth of available blues, gives on flexibility in creating the look that you seek. Darker shades of blue tend to mix well with orange, gold, pink, purple and beige
5. Neutral colors – Earth tones are extremely popular with regard to African design and style. They can include touches of ivory, bone, beige, mustard and sage green. There cab also is substantial graduations in range within these colors. Neutral colors are perfect compliment for an environment that interplays between light and shadow and can form a perfect contrast. The range of accents and mediums is plentiful. Many folks use let these natural and neutral colors dictate their choice of accessories and accents. It is also a flexible range to fit any form of interior look, not just modern but also a more traditional and contemporary style.
Over the past 8 years operating our business we have experienced customers with vastly different décor ideas with regard to African Style. Some seek a small accent to compliment their established color scheme. Others seek to redecorate an entire room with an African theme. Evaluating and selecting your color scheme is your initial building block.
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Nontando, operating since 2003, has the largest and best selection of African Art, Gifts and Home Decor in Florida. www.nontando.com was launched in 2009 has attracted customers from all over the US, becoming a popular choice for designers and decorators.