As I began this blog, I wanted to share ideas beyond just fluffy, glossy lifestyle stuff all the time. I embrace my responsibility to use this platform well and with purpose.
The injustice and unrest over the past few months have ignited conversations and opened up eyes across the U.S., and in the design community at large. Many of us realized, I’m embarrassed to say, that our colleagues of color are grossly underrepresented.
There are so many incredible Black interior designers, artists, and product designers producing remarkable things — yet their stories and work often don’t get the recognition and spotlight they deserve.
I wanted to expand my understanding and highlight the amazing work that is being done by Black artists. And, I was blown away by what I found and realized I was already inspired by their work. I just didn’t realize it. So, now I can’t help but share it more intentionally. Here, I’ve curated a list of shops, designers, and products I love, though this is by no means exhaustive. Check out these 10 amazing designers below.
Mann Handmade — Ceramics
When I came across Mann Handmade’s website, I realized I’ve totally bought Sharon’s pieces before! She’s an L.A. local and her organic, earthy collections are made right here in Los Angeles with locally-sourced materials.
I’m drawn to their handmade nature — no two pieces are exactly the same! I also love that each collection is inspired by a specific ingredient or dish, be it steel-cut oats, hot chilis, or pancakes. To score your own, reach out via her website for a dinnerware collection tailor-made for you. Or, pick up a piece or two at a number of local retailers, including my personal fave Lawson-Fenning.
A huge francophile myself, I’m so excited to highlight a Parisian-born designer on this list. Marie Burgos is an interior and product designer based in NYC. She’s also a feng shui certified master, which I always find so fascinating.
Marie’s pieces have this really compelling duality to them. Her Cayenne Lounge Chair features a stocky, masculine frame with plush upholstery, balanced by sleek, feminine lacquered arms. Paired with the matching ottoman, this midcentury throwback is perfect for the corner of the living room where you settle in with your favorite glass of red and must-read novel.
Studio Lani — Furniture & Lighting
Travel plans thwarted this year? Studio Lani brings tropical elegance home. Designer Ladi Adeoye translates dynamic sculpture into functional works of art, partnering with Nigerian artisans to bring her designs to life.
I’m so drawn to Lani’s Igbako wall sconce, which features a hidden light source enclosed in solid wood, emitting warm, intimate light while highlighting the hand-carved texture within.
Lisa Hunt — Fine Art
If there’s one art period I can’t get enough of, it’s Art Deco. Lisa Hunt’s work is a nod to the period, in both shape and palette.
Her work is high contrast, juxtaposing stark black or white backgrounds with 24K gold leaf geometric shapes and patterns. Her pieces are simultaneously minimalist and glam, making them warm, bold, and wonderfully versatile.
The Ninevites — Art Textiles
Gorgeous design meets an incredible mission. The Ninevites is a design collective focused on showcasing traditional weaving methods and empowering local artisans in South Africa and Peru.
Their bold, geometric rugs are made to order in under 3 months, which is insane for custom floorcoverings. I can picture these colorful designs in a kid’s room or pool house, or even as a striking wall hanging above a bed.
Lolly Lolly — Ceramics
I was drawn to the playful shop name immediately, then completely endeared to artist Lalese Stamps when I saw she lives and creates in Columbus, OH. Being from Nebraska myself, I know that you can find inspiration anywhere, and I have a soft spot for fellow creatives who reside outside of notable design communities.
On their website, Lolly Lolly highlights a 100 Day Project — 100 iterations of a similar form, all with a unique twist. I’m in love with the whimsical shapes and rich black clay — I want to buy every single one!
Jomo — Furniture
This is the website that initially inspired this entire blog post: I knew I had to highlight craftmasters. Jomo Tariku’s work is absolutely stunning. Each piece is lovingly handcrafted, derived from an element of African culture, nature, or history.
The Nyala chair, for example, is inspired by the mountain Nyala antelope. The Ashanti I stool mimics the bowed legs and curved seat of a traditional Ghanian ceremonial seat. Any piece from Jomo’s collection would be a conversation starter and an heirloom-quality piece of art.
Studio PGRB — Lighting
Here’s another shop I didn’t realize I’d purchased from in the past. I actually have Studio PGRB’s Concentric 9 pendant in my home! It’s got this 70’s glam vibe I totally love, and the warm light perfectly highlights my salon-style gallery walls on the staircase.
I’m also in love with the Saber sconce. It’s super sexy and has such broad application. Not only is Studio PGRB’s lighting perfect for a variety of homes, but I can envision it in hospitality and commercial spaces as well.
Yaël & Valérie — Textiles & Wallpaper
Yaël & Valérie is a newer company from Haiti that I’m completely obsessed with. They reimagine familiar textile patterns in a completely new way — bringing history and culture to the forefront of their designs.
Their Passé et Connexion collection transforms traditional toile into a dynamic exploration of Black history and womanhood. Not to mention, it’s just plain gorgeous. I want to upholster a chair in this fabric, stat.
Malene Barnett — Ceramics, Painting, & Rugs
Malene Barnett is a Brooklyn-based artist and founding member of the Black Artists and Designers Guild. Her work is rooted in her ancestral heritage and pays homage to traditional makers and African craftmasters.
Her Adire collection features hand-built sculptures inspired by the Gele, a traditional Nigerian headwrap. I am so drawn to this entire collection — the movement, the texture, the free-flowing forms. I could totally see these pieces anchoring a bookcase, nestled in amongst beloved books and photographs.
Feeling inspired? I know I am.
I loved putting together this list and I hope it introduced you to some new faces and collections.
I’m so glad we’re recalibrating our thinking: that we’re stopping to consider where we shop. Who we buy from and support. As you explore and meet new artists, be sure to share their websites, get on their email lists, and support them by buying and promoting their work
Until next time,
P.S. The Black Artists and Designers Guild led me to a number of these incredible designers. BADG is a nonprofit founded in 2018 to increase the visibility of Black art, culture, and talent within the design industry. Check out their directory to meet even more makers!