Monthly Archives: February 2008

February 14, 2008

Exploring West Africa

Why West Africa? Our design team was enormously inspired by the extraordinary architecture,  hand-dyed textiles, and bold colors and motifs of this beautiful region of the world. Visiting Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana, we were surrounded by vivid color.  Against the minimalist backdrop of earth buildings such as the great mosque at Djenne, women went about their daily duties wearing brightly patterned swaths of cloth that kept them cool against the hot sun.  Marketplaces were a visually stimulating cacophony of scarves, head wraps, fruit, piles of fabric, and food cooking in the sun.

While there we learned a huge amount about the unique textiles that are so prevalent in this region. One printing method is to use all natural dyes made from leaves, the hand-wove cotton is colored first, followed by mud painting which is used to illustrate patterns and symbols. The cloths are laid out to dry in the sun and the dry mud is removed, exposing beautiful symbols that can represent such core West African themes as family, journeys, or fathers and mothers.

The vibrancy of these cultures traveled with us all the way back to San Francisco, where we created our West Africa collection. Enjoy!