Editor’s Miscellany: Tribal Treats

June 7, 2012

By Kyle Hoepner

Let’s revel in today’s easy availability of tribal looks–not just ikats and paisleys, but all sorts of curvy or geometric patterns originally hailing from North Africa right around the globe to Ayers Rock.

These evocative designs, from traditional boteh to the chintamani-pattern pillows I’ve been seeing here and there recently, can be great fun when deployed in force–and how can I not use Martyn Lawrence-Bullard as an example of this?

2010 vignette for Hollywood at Home. Photo courtesy of Martyn Lawrence-Bullard Design

Or perhaps John Robshaw‘s country house in Connecticut?

Photo from the Oct/Nov 2010 issue of lonnymag.com

But I especially love when the tribal influence shows itself more subtly, to enrich interiors in other styles. What about this library alcove in an Edwin Lutyens country house, Marshcourt, recently reworked by designer Robert Couturier? See how elegantly the curtain edging and hand-embroidered chair fabric from Robert Kime play against the rhythms of Sir Edwin’s windows.

Photo by Tim Beddow, from the September 2011 issue of Architectural Digest

Or you might appreciate the low-key way John Roch of Roch and Chase Interiors combines a North African rug with mid-century furniture in his historic Connecticut Colonial. (This house will be featured in our upcoming Summer 2012 issue of New England Home’s Connecticut.)

Photo by Bruce Buck for New England Home

Or the way Vicente Wolf will casually work one or two offhand tribal references into his characteristically spare, dramatic spaces.

This, believe it or not, is a house on Nantucket, with latticed mirrors and a Kuba-pattern pillow. Photo courtesy of Vicente Wolf Associates

This carved table sits in a house in Greenwich, Conn. Photo courtesy of Vicente Wolf Associates

Hints of a tribal look will even show up in apparently unlikely places, such as this Paris apartment by Jean-Louis Deniot.

Photo courtesy of Jean-Louis Deniot

Oh, dear. Wait a minute, these examples all come from men. Would a female designer ever do this kind of thing? Oh, yes…how about Celerie Kemble?

Connecticut bedroom by Celerie Kemble. Photo courtesy of Kemble Interiors

And Milly de Cabrol?

East Side apartment in New York by Milly de Cabrol. Photos courtesy of Milly de Cabrol

When it comes to finishes, fabrics, and other such products, I’m particularly beguiled by things that take a tribal look and give it a new spin, such as these Ula pillows from Blueprint Modern.

Photo courtesy of Blueprint Modern

Or this dotted pattern by Brooklyn- and Mérida-based textile artist Lourdes Sánchez.

Photo courtesy of Luli Sánchez

How nice to live in a time when this kind of intercontinental mingling can happen.