Thursday, September 8, 2011

Inspiration: African

Interieurs Showroom: photo by Jeff Cate

I am fascinated by artists and the creative process. Is a designer an artist? not quite, I would never be conceded to the point of viewing myself as an artist. However, I feel that the source of great design comes from the core of one's creativity and emotions.

My approach to design is not a calculated one, it comes from pure instinct. Indeed, my training was in finance, I cannot draw, sketch, nor use CAD... but I have an innate sense for form, color, proportions, texture, and space.

I do not sit at a desk and start drawing a furniture collection, rather I may be reading a novel, looking at an art book, observing nature or be in a foreign land, and it suddenly hits me....this is it!
This is exactly what happened last fall. I was reading a marvelous book, Cutting for Stone, whose story took place in Ethiopia. I felt transported to a beautiful harsh world full of contrasts. I was reading in my Living Room, and started to look closely at an antique Ethiopian Tombom I had acquired years ago, and for the first time  noticed all the intricacies in its rough carvings. That was it... my next collection would be inspired by this one artifact.

Today, I cannot look at a fashion magazine without noticing that African style is in!!

Saturday, I will be flying off to Africa for close to a month. My friend Judy and I will be hiking up the African sacred mountain Kilimanjaro with a guide and a couple of porters, sleeping in tents for 10 days as we are taking the long route to the summit. My husband will then meet me for a "safari'' through various Tanzanian parks, and finally off to Zanzibar where I hope to find small interesting artifacts and furniture for my showroom Interieurs, and finally to Pemba Island for some rest and swimming. As I am reading "Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar", I feel transported to a vision of Oman and Zanzibar . I hope to capture some of the scents, traditions, architecture of these times gone by.

 Hopefully, my Interieurs team will keep the blog going with (I hope) a few guest posts.
 A few African inspired images to illustrate a classic ethnic style that has inspired designers, painters, musicians for generations.

The Ethiopian Tombon  as an inspiration for the Interieurs Amara collection

African meets Industrial

African fashion style 

Interieurs Showroom: Modern Eclectic

Morocan  Lounge for a music industry client

My Living Room and kid's playroom published by Robb Report

Hope you are inspired!
A Bientot,


  1. Oh so inspired, your taste is impeccable Francine! The trip sounds like a dream and I will look forward to gearing your accounts.

    Soon to post something very special! Will email you!


    Art by Karena

  2. Very nice images and yes Africa is indeed a big inspiration. Good luck on your trip and look forward to seeing photos from your different destinations.

  3. So beautiful!! Love the African style in combination with our contemporary design! The fabrics here are fabulous!
    Hope you are well Francine!
    Happy weekend!

  4. Bon voyage Francine! and this time I am the one wanting to trade places... Please post a lot of images on your return; I know the place a little as my father was posted to Dar es Saalam; I did not go up the Kilimanjaro but I did fly to Zanzibar. Have a great time. I am so jealous!!!

  5. i have some african stuff my sister brought for me and i love it!

  6. Francine, this trip will be powerful and adventurous. I am looking forward to read about it at your return.

  7. What an amazing trip to Africa you have planned!! I love your Morocan syle music room.. how fabulous!! The images you shared of your own home are super, what an amazing space you created:)


  8. On Francine's behalf, thank you all for your comments. As of now, she is still in the air between Amsterdam and Kilimanjaro.

    She'll be back in early October. There may be some guest posts in the interim.

    All best,


  9. Mince, I am too late! I just found this wonderful blog today via Karena and have some suggestions as Francine is embarking on one of my favorite trips in the world! I'll include them anyway in case you wish to forward them, Luke.
    --In Moshi at the base of Kili, the old-fashioned Marangu Hotel is great for a quiet dinner but they also have one of the best artisanal shops in the region.
    --For the Ngorongoro Crater, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is just so lovely and at least worth a visit (although staying there is fabulous)--they don't call it the "Massai Versailles" for nothing!
    --There is a great store in Dar es Salaam, a mixture of design and antiques but I can't remember the name but I am sure if she asks around anyone in the expat community there will know
    --It has been a few years since we covered Zanzibar so I imagine that much has changed. At the time, we did a story on Emerson&Green, now 236 Hurumzi but now it seems the new Emerson Spice is the place to be. Drinks at the Serena at sunset are still a good bet I would imagine. There were wonderful brass artisans to be found. I can't wait to see what it has become...
    Oh very jealous, I would be so happy to be embarking on this incredible trip--it is a life changer. Especially for anyone who has never been on a safari before!

  10. Great post! Blogging is actually a work and I like very much your blogging work...

  11. What a beautiful design concept! I love the fact that you have an intuition and find inspiration in the things around you. In decor, visualization becomes so important. I believe that people can and do design from pure instinct and what speaks to their emotions.

    Your photos are wonderful and while I never thought of myself liking the jewel tone colors, your photo of the Moroccan Lounge is beautiful.

    You have a great blog and I will be visiting regularly.

    Cheery Regards,


  12. Was lovely to discover your blog Francine, via Karena.
    Have a fabulous time in Africa and I look forward to hearing about your trip on your return.

    Bon voyage

  13. Francine, my Husband loved Africa. You will please take some photo's.
    I have a six foot war canoe ebony,
    must have a hundred parts. I wish some one was interested in it. I put it in the studio.
    Have a safe trip. yvonne

  14. Beautiful post. Yes - certainly inspired by the images as well as your words. Have a fabulous journey.

  15. Hi Francine
    Well I'm a little late in popping over to visit.. just got back from 5 weeks in europe and still catching up.

    Hope you trip is wonderful and look forward to seeing your inspiration on return.. thanks for visiting me whilst I was off.. ciao xxx Julie


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