Thursday, January 26, 2012


I am drawn to the African aesthetic,

whether in architecture,
contemporary art and craft,
interior design,
or fashion.

I am stirred by the colours,
the organic textures, shapes and patterns,
the earthiness
and the African Make-Do perspective.

"Africa is great at improvisation, at making
something astonishing from
whatever is at hand.
It does not need expensive materials.
Africa has a genius for recycling.
It has taught me to discard nothing
as I can find a use for it later.
"African Make-Do" is the name
I have given this aesthetic." - Andrew Verster, Artist

"It's the startling use of colour that
we get so right. You see fearless
combinations because there are no rules,
even though we do have cultural traditions.
Sometimes the beauty of African colour can make
you uncomfortable - and yet stimulated."
- Karen Roos, Editor, Elle Decoration South Africa

"It inspires with its colors.
The tones may be subtle,
as if bleached
by the intense heat, or the colours
supersaturated like an explosion
of wild flowers in twilight.
The real beauty is how these colours go together...."
- Quotations from the book Africanismo


  1. What an exciting group of photos. I love the rhythm, texture and colors.

  2. Kim this fantastic your love of art in Africa and connection to what you do is outstanding.

  3. Robyn, these are lovely, no time tonight to explore the blogs and websites but I will, as always thank you.

  4. All of these descriptions of African aesthetic are spot on. I am always drawn to the textures and colors.

  5. I am besotted from afar Robyn... what life there is in all these colours and forms... so earthy and magnificent!

  6. l'art et l'artisanat africain s'intègre parfaitement dans nos intérieurs modernes et donne une ambiance , une en même temps..une sobriété..c'est beau!

  7. beautiful vignettes and those frames are fab, rich and vibrant... everything... x

  8. African decorating styles are not something that I have much exposure to, but I always like what I see here on your blog. I especially like the blend of colors.

  9. I love the colours and the designs Robyn. I am going over to take a look at some of the things you suggest.

  10. Robyn, I love it all! The baskets are stunning and I think my favorite. There is much to check out here and it will keep me busy tonight. Thank you.
    Kisses to D&B and you too, I hope all is lightness.

  11. Robyn....what an amazing collection of beautiful work. I do love those baskets above the fireplace. I'm following all your pinterest boards....started to pick and choose and then just figured why not follow them all, it was too difficult to select as they were all wonderful....what an amazing eye you have and I don't know how in the world you have the time to find such greatness!! Thank You, thank you!!!

  12. you knock my sox off---again! I wish I had a book of all your pics so I could look at them wherever I might be. thanks for making my day!

  13. I too am besotted
    and have been
    since my 4 years in Ivory Coast
    I have some of those lovely black and cream textiles made near Korhogo where I lived and various sculptures and bowls - the spice bowls at the top filled me with joy - remembering visits to the market for brown paper wrapped spices, henna... and the women walking long distances with 3 foot tall stacks of fruit and vegetables, babies wrapped around their backs - and the Fulani - their gorgeous dresses and decorated bicycles...
    oh the images whirl in my head and I sigh...
    thank you Robyn for yet another visual feast - love that you have shown African Art in luscious interiors - showing the warmth and richness the textiles, sculpture, etc. bring to any environment...

    you have certainly warmed my icy world up here...

    thank you so much!

    xox - eb.

  14. Robyn, you've given me an afternoon's worth of websites to visit! Thank you.

  15. I love these!! African art so influences my own work.

  16. The creative urge allows unique use of discards - from bottle caps to telephone wires, all of which I admire. But its that big bowl of ostrich eggs (?) that really gets me going!And the art in the Matsika Interiors shot too.
    Thank you, thank you!

  17. Oh I love these colours and textures. Thankyou.

    The Alchemist is going to South Africa for work in a couple of months and has asked what he sould bring back for me. I shall send him this post to get an idea of the african aesthetic!

  18. Absolutely gorgeous works. I'm all for recycling what one can and making it beautiful. I'm reminded of an evening spent in a Chicago museum years ago where the group had use of the gallery for the evening. Dinner was served throughout the rooms in which a huge collection of African weaving were on display. The colors were incredible, sort of like that quilt. I don't remember the food or the company but the textiles will forever be in my mind.

  19. I love the sophistication and simplicity of your photos--really exciting! I get the feeling that those who are lucky enough to know Africa intimately are hooked for life.

    Thanks for coming by my blog and saying hi!

    I have two lengths of African fabric from the 80's that I love-so intricate yet simple.

  20. R-quite an eclectic post - taking us on quite a journey. So loved the initial image; and the curved wooden recliner at the retreat. Go well and be inspired.B

  21. Robyn all just gorgeous and stunning. The owners of our apartment in NY run an African art gallery and we shall definitely visit before we leave. Go well F

  22. Fab - all of it! I love to look at interiors and interesting pieces to put in them! Now I'll have some fun exploring these links - thank you!

  23. incredible uses of materials, creating textures and color combinations to be 'besotted' over for certain.
    it's lovely to see these pieces from the hand, from the earth, in the Masika interiors.....they are showcased perfectly to me.

  24. I also love African aesthetics Robyn, and am always so inspired by their inventiveness as well. I LOVE the corro frames, one of those "wish I'd thought of it" moments

  25. Fabulous photos. I have a set of the three pots in your top photo and wondered what they were used for, now I know.

  26. yum.

    I could eat that yoruba quilt right up...

  27. i don't know what it is: pattern, color, texture, reuse, whatever it is, it's amazing.

  28. I've been lost in links for quite some time after this post. Thanks Robyn, "Be Clever" was an impressive studio/retreat.

  29. I love african colours and textures ..thank you ..

  30. The spices, I will please take the spices. And, ooh, to have a cuddly-spiked power fetish to guard the champagne while it chills, much understanding there. ;)

    The bowls are wonderful, and so the links. Hope you're energy is rising and you're singing a bit.


  31. Kim, glad you enjoyed the images.

    Thanks Edward.

    Penny, hope your weather has cooled down. It's rather pleasant here today.

    Lisa at Greenbow, enjoy!

    Sophie .... besotted from afar... I like that :-)

    Elfi, it is wonderful how the African aesthetic has become so popular in modern interiors.

    Cat, if you follow the frame link you will find a range of corrugated iron products.

    Stevie, I suppose the style is different and yet I notice many overseas designers bringing the African accents into their decor.

    Weaver, I'm wondering if you are snowed in yet.

    Annie, there is such a huge variety of baskets here, from the naturals to the brights, simple to intricate.

    Thank you Patti .... as for Pinterest, I knew I shouldn't have wandered over there :-)

    Lyle, I enjoy knocking your sox off :-)

    eb, so glad this post bought back such a whirl of delicious memories. I loved reading about them.Hope you find a little ray of sunshine today.

    Thanks Art.

    Carole, enjoy!

    Lori, I'm wondering if you've started the 3rd and 4th mosaics in your commissioned series. Will pop over to see later.

  32. Leslie, ostrich eggs have become quite the decor statement. In my Pinterest link, Lion Sands Game Reserve uses them as light shades.

    HHnB, he's bound to find many telephone wire baskets and beaded animals. I'm wondering if he is going to the Cape?

    Jo Reimer, I think I would be the same .... eyes on the display and giving less attention to the food.

    Deborah, I think once it's in your system Africa is very difficult to forget. So many people who left to live overseas have come back.

    Barry, you must be enjoying your own journey, basking in all the art and the buzz of New York.

    Fiona, I would love to hear about the art gallery when you get back.

    Caroline, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Neva, the Masika interiors are almost like a blank canvas to showcase the African art.

    Kim, follow that frame link to see the other range of corrugated items.

    Ro, how wonderful! I love those pots!

    Grrl, yes I imagine you could eat the quilt. Your handmade creatures would look quite at home on that bed.

    Velma, glad you feel it!

    Shayla, Marzia's home must be amazing too.

    Bernaerozkan, I'm so pleased you enjoyed the post.

    Mansuetude, lol..... yes, the champagne must be guarded by a cuddly fetish :-)
    Beginning to sing .... Thanda.

    Valerianna, enjoy!


  33. So rich with colors and textures and patterns....would love to visit Africa to see all the wonderful art and design in person...fabulous photos Robyn!

  34. The inspiration just shines out of your work missus! Beautiful collection, I adore the baskets and quilts
    Hope you are kicking 2012 off to a fabulous start missus, much love to you and the gang xxx

  35. I, too love the African aesthetic. Wonderful collection. Those baskets! whoa.
    How you find time to put these collections of visual delight together is a mystery to me. I'm glad you do.

  36. Picasso went through a period where he was inspired by African aesthetic... as were many artists. I have always loved the bold colors and organic, earthy shapes. Just gorgeous!

  37. Your posts are so dense with images, moods, and avenues...they sometimes overwhelm me. telephone wire baskets, the Kuba bag, had me excited..then I saw the interiors...what a feats, Robyn!

  38. All kinds of inspiration going on here. And now I feel as if I've traveled the world a bit and had tea at my foreign friend's house.


  39. Robyn--thanks for this window into African design and aesthetic. I've long admired the "make-do" approach--and I love seeing how interior designers incorporate the strong forms and evocative colors of African sculpture and textiles. Loved the interior of Allan Donovan's house--I'd like to be invited over for tea!

  40. And what a proe it is! I love how you showed this aesthetic across so many different aspects of art and design.

  41. What lovely things, I could quite happily spend time in Alan Donovan's house & curl up under that wonderful quilt. Such a distinctive aesthetic.

    I wish someone had said 'Lightly child, lightly' to me! I hope I've said it to my children.

  42. It is amazing and wonderful to see how the African culture has reached deep into your soul and affected your have connected with the surroundings and the life and culture around you.. because you know you can not separate the two..your life and your art.

  43. Hi Robyn, have just read yr reply to my comment. Yes, he is going to the Cape.

  44. Your blog is always top shelf! So much great design to look at. Thanks for sharing (and visiting my blog).

  45. Cynthia, sometimes we take the colour and richness of our surroundings for granted but writing this post has reminded me just how lucky I am.

    Mimi, can you believe it's February already?? Time flies but the good thing is Autumn will be here soon.

    Karine, the summer heat is keeping me indoors so I have more time to spend looking for images. When Autumn arrives I will cut down on my computer time.

    The Painted Lady, there was a sudden awakening to African art during Picasso's time. Reading about it, one can sense the excitement as it spread through the art community. It quietened down for a while but now it's back in full force.

    Maggie, glad you enjoyed the feast!

    Lisa Graham, blogging has made the world seem smaller hasn't it?!

    Hannah, tea in Allan Donovan's house ..... What a good idea !

    Seth, it's exciting to see tribal art looking so comfortable in all types of interiors.

    Emma, I think if it was possible we would all end up at Alan's house for tea :-)

    Donna, you are so right. It would be very difficult to separate African culture from my art and my life. I see the Japanese aesthetic in your blog and know you feel the same way.

    HHnB, the Cape is so beautiful and it has an amazing vibe. I wish it wasn't so far away.

    Robin, thanks so much!