Africa & Beyond: Ethnic Design

Ethnic design can encompass many different styles and regions.  With so many diverse cultures around the world it can include Asian, Moroccan, African, Polynesian, Middle Eastern, even Mexican.  Every one of these styles has unique elements that define it.

African design

African design incorporates the colors of nature-brown, beige, green and blue-with folk art, rustic artifacts and unique fabrics.  If you are lucky enough to have traveled to this part of the world you undoubtedly picked up a few “trinkets” such as masks, carvings and maybe even some bolts of fabric. 

African fabrics feature patterns and weaving techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation and include mudcloth, tie dye and batik.  These fabrics can be used to upholster an occasional chair, as window treatments or throw pillows.  The geometric patterns and rich colors will add interest and texture to any space.

Moroccan Design

This rich and lively design style has been popular for many years.  It features intricately carved furniture, jewel like colors, lanterns and brass accents with paisley being a popular motif in fabrics.  Many people enjoy using this style in the bedroom as it can be very mysterious and romantic.

Mexican Design

Mexican design is rich in tradition and features bright primary colors, colorful carved furniture and accessories with a religious overtone.  Punched or hammered metal is used to make lanterns, candle holders and beautiful frames for mirrors and artwork.  Handwoven baskets and beaded animal figurines will add a touch of world travel to your home.  Brightly striped woven blankets are perfect for those chilly nights or to add a pop of color to a neutral room.

Asian Design

This design style covers many different parts of Asia that includes Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Polynesia.  Design elements differ with each region.  Japan is known for a serene and minimalist style with soothing colors and lots of greenery while China favors bold black, red and gold with intricate embroidery. Polynesian style is relaxed and laid back with woven batik and ikat fabric.

In other countries even American design could be considered ethnic since the real definition of the word is to represent a culture from a distant land.  You can decorate an entire room in a “theme” such as moroccan or african or you can choose to add touches of each design that appeal to you.  The best way to achieve this look is to travel and incorporate your own personal items from your trips into your design.  Bon voyage!