written by:
August 27, 2012

One of the special exhibitions at Tendence was Africa Chic, a collection of objects designed and manufactured in Africa. We rarely get a chance to feature designs from the continent, and so jumped at the chance to see what the show was about. Many of the objects were expected—woven baskets, traditional jewelry, wooden vases—but the textiles stood out. While traditional, the colors and geometric patterns would not look out of place in a modern home. A neighboring series of booths featuring designs from Tunisia—a country that is now finding its footing after overthrowing its former dictator—also featured some stunning pieces, which made for a rich haptic and visual experience. The grouping was meant more to boost exports and there isn't typically a click-to-buy online shop for the products (but many designers said that they take orders via email and phone). In the following slideshow, spy the bright colors, thick weaves, and unexpected materials on view at the fair.

These bright baskets by Salem's Ethiopia echo another color trend we've seen for quite a few seasons: neon.

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A trio of rugs by Saleem's Ethiopia.

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We loved the zigzag pattern and mint-green hue of this piece, also by Salem's Ethiopia.

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Casa Anin, a company from Namibia, makes these hand-embroidered, 200-thread-count cotton duvets. Perfect for a kids' room.

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These blankets are from Kenyan company Kenana. The blankets are woven from hand-spun wool yarn. The company also produces some awfully precious stuffed animals for kids.

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Fried-egg-like rug by Ezra Innovative Design out of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The company seeks to "to create new handicrafts, to reinvent traditional materials, and to generate new and sustainable employment opportunities for women."

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Mima Ben Niled of Tunisian company Etandart exhibited these foutas, a large piece of cotton fabric traditionally used in hammams. We loved the pinstripes and colorways.

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Here's a weaver from Tunisia who uses a technique that involves weaving a north African plant called "alfa" into a fabric. Though the material is a bit rough, it looks just like a wool rug. Soon, the rugs will be distributed through bloou.com (the site is a work in progress).

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An explosion of color from Montapis.

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Onto a more subtle note with these pieces by Tunisian designer Majla Chubbeh.

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Bright oranges and blues from Majla Chubbeh.

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africa chic tendence saleem basets

These bright baskets by Salem's Ethiopia echo another color trend we've seen for quite a few seasons: neon.

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