Monday, 20 February 2012


I have found it very interesting researching Kente cloth. I love all the bright colours and definitely want to use more of these in my work. I also like how the cloth is made up of lots of small pieces of weaving attached together. I would like to use this technique in my work, not just with weaving but with a range of different materials. For example, rather than printing onto a large piece of fabric I could print onto lots of small pieces and then stitch them together. Another aspect of Kente cloth that I have found interesting is the symbolic meaning of the patterns and colours. It has made me consider how colours affect us and what significance they may have. It has also made me think about how clothes can symbolise status, and certain people wear certain types/styles of clothes. I think that doing this research has definitely had an effect on my work, and people who have seen my samples have said that they look very African inspired.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Contemporary African Interior Design
Phillipe Bestenheider

African textiles in general have a great influence on modern day design, Kente in particular because of its bright colours and geometric shapes. This chair by Philippe Bestenheider is an excellent example of this. He has taken a traditional Kente pattern and woven it in striking colours. This is made more contemporary by the modern minimalist shape of the chair itself. "The weaving with textile bands in contrasting colours creates a unique pattern which recalls the Kente fabrics from Ghana." (

Tord Boontje

On the right is a chair by Tord Boontje inspired by Kente cloth and traditional African weaving. The chairs are made contemporary by the use of digitally drawn patterns and woven using coloured plastic threads. The plastic thread used is the same vibrant nylon cord that is used to weave fishing nets in Senegal , a country in West Africa.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kente in Contemporary Fashion
 Blue symbolises peace, gold represents royalty. 
This pattern means duality.
 Hemma is a fashion collection created by designers Cindy Gaston and Edna Bissoon. After a trip to Ghana, where they both fell in love with African fashion and textiles, they launched a collection of luxury womenswear that incorporates the same traditional techniques that have been used to weave fabrics for African nobility for centuries. They were particularly inspired by the intricately handwoven Kente and, drawing from its rich history, they began incorporating it into their designs. The bold colours and geometric shapes are all typical of Kente cloth, but the cloth is fashioned in a more contemporary style.
Purple symbolises healing.
Yellow represents vitality. This pattern means luxury.
Yellow symbolises vitality. 
Green represents prosperity. 
Black symbolises personal growth. 
This pattern means courage.



Alex Boakye
Woven with a cotton and rayon blend, the kente motifs on this bag are underscored by bright pink, which is symbolic of the female essence of life. According to Akan beliefs, pink is associated with tenderness, pleasantness and sweetness.

Alex Boakye was born in Bonwire, a village in the Ashanti Kingdom renowned for Kente weaving. His father was a master weaver and taught him from a very young age. He now has his own workshop where he works alongside five other weavers. They specialise in handbags made from Kente cloth and thrive to create contemporary designs that still incorporate traditional patterns and processes. Historically, kente was reserved for special occasions, festive and or sacred. Now kente artistry stands as a symbol of prestige, cheerfulness and glamour.

History of Kente Cloth

 Kente is a brilliantly coloured fabric that is hand-woven by Ghanaian weavers. The origins of Kente Cloth date back to 12th century Africa, where it was worn by Kings, Queens, and important figures in Ghana's society during ceremonial events and special occasions. The word "Kente" comes from the word "kenten", which means basket. The very first Kente weavers used raffia, or palm leaf fibres, and wove them into a cloth that looked like a basket, which is why it was given this name. - accessed 04/02/12
 Ghana's weavers used looms to make four inch wide strips of Kente cloth, and wove the strips together to form larger garments.

There are more than 300 different patterns of Kente cloth, each pattern with a name and its own meaning. The meanings come from past events, religious beliefs, political ideas, and social customs. The colours used also have their own meanings, for example red represents death or bloodshed and was often worn during political rallies. - accessed 04/02/12
 This pattern is called ‘Sika Futoro’ which means “gold dust”.  Before the use of coins and paper as money, gold dust was used as a medium of exchange among the Akan peoples and was therefore considered as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. The predominant use of intricately textured patterns in yellows, orange and reds replicate the visual characteristics of gold dust. The cloth symbolises wealth, royalty, elegance, spiritual purity and honourable achievement. - accessed 15/02/12

The men wore the cloth in the same way the Toga was worn by the ancient Greeks, whereas women usually wore the cloth in 3 pieces. Each piece was about two yards long. One piece was wrapped around the waist to form a floor length skirt worn over a blouse specially sewn together in plain material. The other cloth was either used as a stole, or shawl or hung loosely over the arm.