Design Trends

Design Trend: The New Tribal Vibe In Interiors Is Straight Out Of Africa

African inspired interior style is a leading design trend.

African Kuba cloth in library by Margaux Interiors LtdAfrican fabric inspired by Kuba cloth in library by Margaux Interiors

The world of high style interiors has embraced Africa in a big way.  Some of the world’s most influential interior designers are using traditional African textiles and patterns in homes for design inspiration.

Kuba cloth and Mudcloth are traditional African textiles that are showing up in some of the most exclusive homes.  People appreciate the specialness of Kuba cloth but probably haven’t thought about the rich history of a great and ingenious people they are adding when using it in their home.

Kuba cloth is created by the Kuba people of the Congo.  They create the cloth by taking the leaf of the Raffia tree hand cut and dye them using mud, indigo and other natural resources.  The fibers are weaved into strips to make the fabric using an embroidery technique that’s very time consuming and laborious.  Various sub-groups of the Kuba people have different ways to make the fabric using unique patterns or patches.  The arrangement of the patterns have meaning and tell a story.

 Worldly designs Ty PenningtonWorldy Designs by Ty Pennington

From YSL’s landmark collection L’ Afrik collection to Donna Karan’s wrapped skirts and jackets the colors, patterns, cultural dress and tribal motifs of Africa have been major sources of inspiration for fashion designers for decades.

Donna Karan 2014 african inspired belt and jacketDonna Karan collection African inspired wrap jacket and leather belt


YSL African beaded dressesYves Saint Laurent L’ Afrik Collection

YSL beaded african Dress detailsYves Saint Laurent Collection L’Afrik, a beaded dress

Today, Africa is inspiring home decor just as it has fashion.  Rcently, Kelly Wearstler, Nate Berkus and many other influential interior designers as well as retailers have created product lines inspired by the rich, vibrant and diverse cultures of Africa.

Kelly Wearstler - brown chairsKelly Wearstler African inspired fabric chairs

Nate Berkus African fabrics

Nate Berkus african fabricsAfrican inspired fabrics – Nate Berkus

African kuba cloth ottomansOttomans cover in Kuba and raffia cloths

Kuba cloth pillowsPillows made of Kuba cloth

African Tribal Motifs and fabrics create intricate and unique interior decor

Baskets & BW patternsBold patterns African inspired raffia lounge and baskets

Plates - African inspiredDinner plates inspired by African geometric patterns

West ELm african inspiredWest Elm African inspired collection of furniture and accessories

Mudcloth traditional chair Mudcloth traditioal chair

Mudcloth chair mid century modernMudcloth mid-century modern chair

Mudcloth bed coverBed with mudcloth cover

The natural color palette and patterns with a significant use of black and brown make these African textiles blend beautifully with neutral monochromatic tones.

Africa is a source of inspiration that elevates a modern room while infusing it with history and culture.  This trend will continue to grow and be in vogue.

Will you include it at your home?

Until next time …

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  • Sandy

    I am loving this trend! I recently decided to decorate my room in a Kate Spade-inspired look and a few touches of Kuba cloth will be a great accent

    • Elle


      Wow, I’m exciting just thinking about how awesome that’s going to look! I think adding Kuba cloth is going to take your room over the top. Also, thanks for sharing your love. BTW – Have you looked/read the Kate Spade book – What we love? You will totally love it and find some great ideas.


    • Elle


      Glad to hear you are a fan too! Thanks for taking the time to share your adoration. I’m totally with you. Hope you’ll come back soon.


    • Elle

      Yes Patricia African prints are especially beautiful. Also, I love that kuba cloth and mudcloth are so unique and handmade. I’m glod you enjoyed the post.


  • Nadeen

    I love these rooms and patterns! African sophisticated looks! My parents traveled to Africa when I was younger and we had authentic African paintings and fabrics in our house.

    • Elle


      Wonderful to hear you loved the inspiration and it reminded you of growing up. Sounds like you had very enlighted parents that were ahead of their time. That’s awesome. I still have things in my home from my 1st visit to Africa 20 years ago. Culture is timeless.


    • Elle


      Thank You!! So nice of you to let me know you enjoyed the post and were inspired by it. I appreciate you and hope you’ll visit again soon.


  • Adanna

    I love kuba cloth but I must admit that I never knew how it was made. Thanks so much for sharing. African art is very beautiful and I’m happy to see it finally appreciated.

    • Elle


      Thank so much for sharing your love of kuba cloth. It is so beautiful and rich in history. I enjoyed sharing the history with you. More and more peoplw are admitting they look to Africa for inspiration and I’m glad to promote it.

      Stay Inspired!


    • Elle

      Hello Gina,
      Thank you. I’m so glad to know you love the “groove”. You are right African patterns work excellent with modern decor. I hope you’re inspired to use them in your decor.