Saturday, February 7, 2009


Taschen has published yet another fabulous decor book. I was lucky enough to receive African Interiors by Deidi Von Schaewen for Christmas and have been reading it at every opportunity. Almost every page is radiant with colour and pattern. Deidi spent 4 years travelling across Africa taking these magnificent photographs for the book. Ohhhhh wouldn't you love to do that? Granted, Africa is hot and there are many areas where water is as scarce as the amenities but what an amazing adventure!
The cover of the book features the brightly patterned walls inside a house in Selibadi. Just one room in each house is painted this way and this is usually the woman's domain where the focus is on daily life, cooking and daily tasks. (See the photograph at the top of the post as well).
This photograph was taken in the Bamako studio of photographer Malick Sidibe. He records the affluent side of life in Mali as well as the ritual ceremonies of hunters in the bush. His studio is filled with photographic paraphernalia, much of which is very old.

Next we have a peek into the home of Alan Donovan, an exporter of African craftwork who is stationed in Nairobi. There were many photos I wanted to show from this house because each room is filled with the most wonderful artefacts.

The African textiles decorating the house are stunning! I can see Kuba cloth, Bark cloth, Mud cloth and many textiles I don't recognize at all. Just look at the appliqued cloths in the bedroom above. The Kuba cloths originated when holes in the fabric were repaired. Patches were sewn over the holes and these developed into the traditional design motifs that are so typical of these cloths.

The image above shows a wall in the bedroom of Not Vital a Swiss sculptor who has built himself a house in Agadez. The camels, which are Vitals own handywork, fit very well with the Berber look of the house. I love this image and keep returning to it.

Susanne Wenger is an Austrian artist who has lived in Oshogbo for the last 50 years. She founded a creative school called the Mbari Mbayo Club which means "when we see it, we're happy". Her artwork whether it is carved wood or cement sculptures, batiks or paintings seem to grow like "rampant plants". She keeps on extending and enveloping her surroundings with these mythical artworks.

This image was taken in the house of Murad Grace, on the edge of Cairo. He and his wife have decorated their home with ancestral objects such as the pieces of Nile pottery you see above.

I have a penchant for weathered wooden doors like this one in a Berber house in Matmata. There is very little furniture in these homes and I must say I'm leaning toward this way of life. We just seem to have far too much "stuff". Think of how we could cut down on housework if we got rid of even half our possessions.

Last but not least this gorgeous giraffe at The Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. They peer in through windows and doors at the hotel guests.
"I'm sure there's someone at the window George."
"Don't worry dear, it's just a giraffe".


  1. these pics are terrific. but i always wonder in houses like these that dusting and cleaning must take ages and an army of domestic help. it is nice when it is someone else's house and i can enjoy the pictures.

  2. Taschen puts out the most magnificant books and this is not exception! loved these pics

  3. Robyn - those textiles are beautiful. At embroidery exhibitions in the Uk there is often a stall selling African textiles - but not a patch on the display in those photographs. Love the giraffe to.

  4. Once again, your post has transported me. Wonderful trip! Thanks.

  5. Priya, simplify, simplify is my motto this month.

    Jeane, just the name Taschen gives me a lift!

    Weaver, I bet they're quite a price too.

    Annie, glad you enjoyed the trip.

  6. Robyn, you are s lucky to be surrounded by such glorious African arts and crafts. I love that photo of the giraffe. How cool is that!!

  7. What a beautiful treat...thank you for sharing. Returning to this book, over and over must be such a gift for you.

  8. Oh R, thankyou for posting this. The colours and textures are wonderful. I think I am going to have to get this book .

  9. I remember a delightful post where elephants walked through the hotel at one place.. now giraffes. That is a hotel I'd like to stay in!

  10. Gorgeous interiors. I have a couple of raffia cloths from zaire(?) I really should display them somewhere.

  11. This book looks like it is full of inspirations. I love the Giraffe Manor picture. I hope you are doing well now that Bug has moved on.

  12. Robyn, this is an answer to your comment on my blog: You are a very perceptive woman. I love Roald Dahl's stories and I've thoroughly enjoyed Kiss Kiss!

  13. Amazing and inspiring colors and shapes. Great post as always Robyn!

  14. Thank you for the great tip, Robyn! The interiors are beautiful! Real pleasure!

  15. oh, i think it would be nice to invite a giraffe over for lunch. What would we drink and eat?

    Love the carving under the ceramic pots, its almost like bleached driftwood my mother would drag from the sea...

    do you still miss love Bug?

  16. June, blogging has made me realize just how lucky.

    Mary Ann, it's a visual feast.

    HHMN, it's worth having. Not too much text though.

    Grrl, imagine coming face to face with a giraffe on your second floor bedroom.

    Jackie I suppose it depends on whether African textiles fit in with your decor....otherwise it would be great to find a place for them.

    Chris, I'm doing well thanks....but I do miss Bug.

    Priya...I had a feeling :-)

    Thinker, glad you enjoyed the post.

    B&W, a lot of these interiors are just for admiring but there are many that inspire.

    Mansuetude, a long cold drink with a straw??
    I miss love Bug like you won't believe! After a cloudburst the other day there were earthworms everywhere which made me miss him even more.

  17. once again you have transported me through time and space and shared images I may never have happened upon ... the richness, depth and variety astound me.

    thanks again. :)

  18. Oh, I'm definitely going to put this one on my wishlist!!! Taschen do it again. :)

  19. Michelle, I'm so happy to share :-)

    Kendalee, yep, Taschen is the best :-)

  20. LOL

    Oh yes, i always always think of my loved ones when i see fat plump juicy eathworms...

    Love Bug is probably out there telling the other birds about his wonderful person adventure; you maybe made the birds trust humanity a wee bit more.

    : )

  21. I'm going to see if our local library will get this book. They have a wonderfully vast and diverse selection of art and decorating books. You've whetted my appetite. I want to see more.

    I'm hosting a creative spaces challenge this week. Pop over and see if your would like to show and tell too. Inspiration is the name of the game. You always have it in abundance.

  22. These interiors with their rich textures and colors, so of the earth.. I could live there!!! Thanks!

  23. Gorgeous, earthy colors in the photos. This is so very much up my alley. And I LOVE the giraffe photo!

  24. What a rich resource of inspiration. I love the camels too, and the textures and patterns are incredible.

  25. Simply amazing. The camel wall entices me too. I want to have floating camels on my walls too! And the Giraffe hotel.....WOW would I love to stay there for a night...well maybe a month!

  26. Marvelous book, and of course I love the camels.

  27. These are wonderful "interiors".... I especially love the bedroom of Alan Donovan's home. I think I would love this book... and I can see how textiles influence your carvings. Have a beautiful week, and thank you so much for the tag! Roxanne

  28. Mansuetude, I hope he doesn't trust humanity too much...

    Stevie, I hope they get it at the library....but don't park the car too far away if you're hefting this book around.

    Gwen, me too!

    Bindu, glad you like.

    Shayla, I wouldn't have all those camels on my walls but I love to look at them on someone else's.

    Leanne...ceramic camels would do.

    Blu, yes it's rather a delicious book.

    Roxanne, Alan Donovan's home is one of my favourites too.

  29. thanks so much for bringing this book to my attention. i love taschen, and am looking forward to taking a look at his one. cheers!