With its iconic wildlife, dramatic landscapes and vibrant mix of cultures, Africa is an eternally fascinating subject. It’s therefore no surprise that the continent has inspired one of the most exciting new trends in interior design: Modern African. Characterised by a combination of traditional imagery, natural materials and bright fabrics, it’s a style that’s dramatic yet comfortable – perfect for contemporary homes in need of a refurbishment.
The elements that make up the modern African design style will be recognisable to many people who’ve stayed at luxury hotels in the region, but it has now been beautifully adapted to suit residential properties. Nature should be kept at the heart of everything, with designers often choosing to use prints inspired by African animals as a recurring theme. Tribal symbols can also be effective when used in moderation – this style always stays sophisticated, following the old rule that less is more. You might see zebra print rugs juxtaposed with sleek glass coffee tables, colourful vases used to brighten up an otherwise monochrome room or carved lamps and woven baskets placed on a geometric shelving unit.
There’s a degree of Scandinavian-inspired minimalism and functionality in some modern African houses, as shown by this stunning property in Cape Town. The natural theme is evident in the stone and glass tables and kitchen units, while floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of light and create a sense of bringing the outside indoors. Large decorative plants complement the simple materials, while colourful fabrics and plush couches ensure that comfort remains a central consideration.
Another good example of African interior design can be found in this stunning game lodge in Thabazimbi. The designer has used neutral, desert-inspired tones throughout the property, adding a level of rustic charm with exposed bare-stone walls. Carved monkeys on a low table and paintings of wildlife adorning the walls provide a more direct nod to African symbolism than the Cape Town property, but combined with the clean lines of modern minimalism, the overall effect is elegant and striking.
Although natural materials are crucial to creating the right ambience, homes following the modern African style should also be welcoming and comfortable. Ornate rugs cover wooden or stone floors – if you’re not a fan of animal prints, look for a beautiful woven piece in neutral tones. Authentic tribal prints can also be used to add a touch of colour, or you can keep the focus on the natural world with a pattern representing grass, leaves or trees. Avoid any overcrowding on shelves or other surfaces, so that each piece you choose to add stands out against the simplicity of its surroundings.
Our Engel & Völkers Interiors online store is an excellent place to source modern African pieces for your home. Our carefully chosen selection includes several finishing touches that bring the warmth of the Serengeti into your home, including this understated elephant lamp and these vibrant zebra dishes. Added to an elegant room with deep leather armchairs, sleek mahogany furniture and a soft rug on the floor, they could be all you need to start creating your own modern African interior.
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