Sunday, January 13, 2013

Malene's Africa-inspired carpets

A sampling of the African-inspired collection
It's been many years since the first time I heard of Malene Barnett: and in fact, I didn't meet her myself at the time; it was my husband, Epee Ellong, whom she interviewed for African Voices magazine.
I kept in touch over the years, and Malene is now a talented carpet designer and entrepreneur. Recently I caught up with her at her studio on Brooklyn, where I went to pick up a small carpet I had purchased.


Malene B.
Photo courtesy of Malene B.
Malene's background is in textile art, painting and illustration. Having worked for many years in the textile industry, and then in the carpet industry, and  traveled to several continents, she had loaded up inspiration and made the next step by founding her own carpet company, Malene B.
For this blog, of course, the highlight is on her African-inspired designs. In the photo above, we have; bottom left: the green Adinkra, above it, Timbuktu, reminiscent of this ancient Mali city's mud architecture; bottom right and center, Wolof, center right, a cowry shell patterned Cowrie, and above that (top right) Papunya (which is not African inspired but rather by the Aborigenes in Australia.) Top left Market Women and top center: Mendhi. 
Malene's Africa travels have taken her, to date to Senegal, Gambia, and Ghana. In Ghana, she participated in a cultual exchange program sponsored by the Afrikan Poetry Theater to learn native crafts, language and dance. Ghana's bustling capital city, Accra, provided the inspiration behind Market Women. Dakar, Senegal's Wolof traditional clothing also provided inspiration for carpet designs (such as, evidently, Wolof).  
Center: Wolof, over Calabash
This month, Malene started a collaboration with the home accessory company Surya: she introduced an exclusive carpet collection called Destinations & Voyages. It was introduced at the Atlanta International Gift Show on January 10, 2012. Here's to wishing Malene continued inspiration from all over the world.
Styles from the new Surya line