The many cultures and nations of Africa are responsible for inspiring an abundance of style ideas, artwork, sculptures, photographs, and patterns. Ranging from the north of the continent, with sophisticated Arab calligraphy and Muslim architecture, to the eastern Horn, with Ethiopian Rastafari influences, there is such a diversity of aesthetics in Africa. For those looking to add vivacity and worldliness to their living room, African art decor provide more than enough opportunities to branch out.
The Yoruba people are an ethnic group living mainly from the North of Nigeria to the South of Benin – an area known as Yorubaland. More than 200,000 U.S. inhabitants belong to this ethnicity, with over 43 million currently identifying as Yoruba around the world. Their history, according to the records, starts in the 8th century BCE. Yoruba art fills museums all over the globe, from architectural objects carved in wood to naturalistic sculptures in bronze, terracotta, and stone. Yoruba royal courts strongly influenced their art, with the queen being worshipped as highly as the king.
Although you may not be able to acquire some of the older, larger pieces of art and décor, contemporary Yoruba masks are more available. These masks were made to worship divinities and they represent the many facets of the spirits of nature.
Play with Fabrics and Colors
Playing with fabrics and colors is a clever way to design African art décor. African textiles are incredibly fashionable and multi-purpose. Be creative with draping and hanging the pieces, mix and match color schemes according to your taste, and draw inspiration from natural African tones. Be bold with burnt oranges and yellows, bright reds, and the many shades of green.
If you think this could only work in homes with walls in neutral tones because of the potential clash of colors, don’t worry! African art décor often makes use of black and white print patterns. For those looking to decorate environments that are already filled with color, just keep your focus on black & whites and earth tones.
Traditional West African textiles are printed in wax and come in striking patterns (some traditional, others can be more contemporary), along with bright colors. Another fabric that came into global focus recently is Kitenge, which has been worn by celebrities like Beyoncé and her sister, Solange. Hailing from East Africa, Kitenge is made of cotton and it is also printed in wax, but the technique specifically sets darker patterns against a lighter background, creating a bold contrast.
Do you have a special connection to one of the African countries? Show your pride and put your flag on display. The flags of Muslim nations like Mauritania show the beautiful crescent moon and star of Islam, while Angola’s keeps it simple with a symbol of struggle and independence against a red-and-black background.
Another way to show where your passions lie is hanging beautifully detailed maps of the lands you love. You can grab some of these basic geography textbook maps, but you are probably better off with something more stylish or vintage. Just steer away from colonial maps, you don’t want your wall to turn out tone-deaf.
Africa is home to many scenic landscapes: the Sahara, the Nile, the Pyramids of Giza, the Victoria Falls, the Savannah, and so on. For those more interested in urban settings, African countries also host a number of stunning, burgeoning metropolis like Cape Town in South Africa and Lagos in Nigeria. You may be captured by sunrises and sunsets, or by a bright skyline touched by the moon. Find a photograph that livens up the room and shows the place of your dreams.
Accessories are another great option for African wall décor. For centuries, the many different tribes of Africa were known worldwide for their sophisticated, hand-made and expertly-crafted tool and accessories made of stone, wood, brass, bronze, silver, and gold. From musical instruments to knives and jewelry, there are many African wall décor options.
High-quality wall decals have many benefits: they are self-adherent, removable, and look like stencil. You can design your own or buy a pre-made design. You can have a decal displaying words, images, a combination of both, graphic patterns… anything you can imagine! The safer bet with decals is placing them against a white (or very light) wall, but you can certainly have them over your brighter accent walls. Just make sure that the design comes across visually as you wish. Test it out before sticking the decal to your wall.
Do you have shelves? If you want to draw joie de vivre and inspiration from stunning African visuals, why not also learn from African history, culture, literature, and philosophy? Read up on the intricacies of this fascinating continent and its many nations.