Finding My Roots Through Design


Excuse me while I get on my soap box real quick and open up about some of my frustrations as a designer, scratch that , as a human being. I was sitting and reflecting and contemplating about my journey as a Designer. So, I’ve been to presentation after presentation, conferences, “talks”, book signings and all I’ve been able to see are European designs through European and American Lenses. This has happened so much so that it has become the norm or default style. It has left me longing for what is the “real” and true African Design. Sure, I might see a designer that has been to Morocco and has picked up inspiration and designs influenced by them but thats about as far and “deep” as it goes.

me at speech 2

It didn’t always bother me as much as it does now. Perhaps this new found frustration can be attributed to the fact that now I have kids and I want them to understand their roots and culture. A big part of that understanding is how I represent that in a true and authentic way in my home.  I get it, Africa is a whole continent so I am fully aware that the  designs will change according to country, region, etc. Even that is frustrating, Where to start?

me at tour

So how do I process this is an African American Designer? Do I pick and choose what I like not really knowing where it’s origins began. How do I interpret the styling and selections  without ever have stepped foot on the continent. Truthfully, love it or hate it, I look through things through an American lens. I am trying to train my brain to be more global but even I catch myself slipping sometimes. So what does this have to do with Interior design, you ask? Well, Everything. If I can come home to a place that I know has some roots, thats very important to me. I l know I’m not the only one, or maybe I am. That’s OK too. I’ve also come to the realization that it’s not up to anyone to provide this perspective to me. It’s up to me to go out and seek it. So now I am on a mission to find what is African Design and how  I translate that as an African American Designer.


  1. I am so encouraged by your article. Being from East Africa and seeing how African Americans loved to borrow from the Kiswahili language but bearly know anything about the Swahili culture, frustrated me to bits. So when a friend whom I had shared my frustrations with asked me to put together “something” that would show people what I was saying, I did! It was a humble effort but very well received. This year we intend to secure sponsorship to polish it up a bit. Please have a look, I would love to hear your feedback.

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