In the spirit of that old saying, “begin as you mean to go on,” we are kicking off 2021 with our sights set on a brighter future. The feeling of energy and optimism that a new year brings is embodied by Reni Folawiyo’s collection of West African textiles on display at Alára—the David Adjaye-designed concept store she founded in Lagos in 2015. Handcrafted in Northern Nigeria, Niger and Mali, Folawiyo’s rugs and wall-hangings boast vibrant colours and intricate geometric designs that are simply joyous to look at. We are particularly smitten with the patterns of repeating squares in the Fulbe examples. Each piece is carefully planned out before narrow strips of dyed cotton or wool are meticulously stitched together. The resulting patterns evoke the exuberance of textiles crafted in the 1960s to celebrate Mali’s newfound independence.
Textile artist Adam Pogue takes the opposite approach to his patchwork designs, stitching together scraps of found fabric with only a colour palette to guide him. “I’ll start with an element, like a composition of a piece of the project, and just start building around it. I don’t figure it all out before I start,” he explains. That sense of creative optimism, believing all will turn out well in the end, has paid off for Pogue, who is now represented by Commune and has pieces installed in projects around the world. Two of those projects, an Ace Hotel in Kyoto and Callie’s, an artist’s residency in Berlin, opened in 2020 despite all odds of the global pandemic. Both feature sheer curtain panels styled after the original pair Pogue made for Commune’s co-founder, Roman Alonso. “He wanted them to look like stained-glass, so my mind immediately went to Bojagi,” says Pogue, referring to the Korean tradition of stitching together small pieces of fabric in a single layer. Like stained glass, the translucent colours have an ethereal quality that comes to life when the sun shines through. Pogue also makes opaque pieces which work brilliantly as bed coverings and wall art, along with appliquéd pillows, ottomans and more.
Next up for Pogue are curtains destined for a restaurant in a yet-to-be-announced Los Angeles museum. In the meantime, his work can be commissioned through Commune with a selection of individual pieces also available through The Future Perfect. The textiles in Folawiyo’s collection are not for sale but do check out Alára’s curated offering of African decor, including Yorùbá beaded chairs and recycled metal furniture by Senegalese designer Ousmane Mbaye. All of which would certainly bring fresh energy into a room.
Photographs © Alára; Stephen Kent Johnson; Adam Pogue