“In a world increasingly lived through screens, our urge to connect with nature is becoming more visceral,” explains Carla Buzasi, the global chief content officer for World Global Style Network (WGSN). The international name in trend forecasting – and with clients that include Nike, Samsung, H&M and Starbucks – WGSN recently launched for the first time in South Africa and Buzasi was in Cape Town to share on the macro trends emerging worldwide.
Driven by the need to experience nature first-hand, and even to see the world through the eyes of animals, humanity will tap into something wilder, according to WGSN’s expert team of forecasters. We’ll see design that is grown, not manufactured, and move from a world in which everything is overly sanitised to one in which bacteria is celebrated (kefir, kombucha and kimchi, anyone?). Even waste becomes luxurious. So what will we crave when it comes to design? “Irregular, abstracted patterns and natural materials, ingredients and textures,” says Buzasi. We want to be surrounded by objects that are real – design that is grown, not made.
It’s to this innate craving that the Bamileke stool speaks so powerfully. Created by Cameroon’s Bamileke craftsmen – known for their woodcarving skills – the hardwood stools feature openwork designs and are done entirely by hand in a variety of sizes and patterns. Carved from individual tree stumps, they bring the real, raw power of grown matter into your home. Traditionally, the wood is first thrown into the river to be softened. If a break in the wood occurs during the carving process, the piece is abandoned as it’s viewed as a break in the continuity of life. The stools, sometimes referred to as bird’s nests or donuts, were traditionally used only for special ceremonial seating by the Bamileke tribe in Cameroon. The tribe’s woodworkers would craft the seats for important occasions, with the biggest and best reserved strictly for the king’s use. The woven patterns carved intricately into the wood represent the web of the earth spider, a symbol of wisdom. The Bamileke people believe that the web of the earth spider is a link between this world and the spirit world.
When it comes to patterning in textiles and elsewhere, look for leaves and foliage making a strong appearance. A plant-inspired laser-cut screen embodies this progression, as does a vibrant green wax-print cushion with a sophisticated leaf motif. Rich, dense printed mixed yarns with an artisan, hand-loomed look will also feature in home textiles and beyond. An array of Asa Oke, Kuba cloth (woven from the fibre of the Raphia Vinifera Palm) or Mud cloth cushions, with irregular patterning in earthen tones, or the feel of an Nguni hide underfoot, will offer the comfort of nature experienced firsthand.
‘Earthed’ is the outdoors coming in; it’s the natural world invading the manufactured world, bringing our sense to life. It’s about our humanity meeting the raw elements in our very own homes.