For as long as Swedish designer Simon Skinner can remember, he’d combed his hair with the picks his mother gave him. But when he first set out to buy his own, he found grooming products for black hair in Stockholm to be few and far between. 

Skinner went to the root of the issue, devising a playful set of ‘Afropicks’, created using laser-cutting, casting and 3D-printing to spice up the conventional form, and celebrate Sweden’s diversity and black identity. First shown in the Hemma Gone Wild exhibition by Swedish Design Moves during Milan Design Week in 2019, Skinner aspired to ‘interpret and convey complex feelings of identity into each comb.’ 

white afropick against a green background
Afropicks, by Simon Skinner

Each of the eight picks is named after a person of African heritage whom the designer spent time with during the research phase, prompting gloriously varied characteristics and functional approaches. These included ‘Jade’, which is comprised of several lengths of curved steel, secured by a white oval clasp, ‘Miliona’, which preserves strands of real human hair in cast resin, and ‘Femi’, in 3D-printed aluminium, which features an abrupt wave in its teeth. These picks rejoice in individual flair and narrate stories of migration and its effect on Swedish culture. ‘The Afro comb has a strong symbolic meaning and as an object it carries an interesting history,’ the designer explains. 

For Skinner, the Afropicks series, which was nominated for a Wallpaper* Design Award this year, is far from wrapped up. Alongside other projects that delve into ‘identity, culture and sustainability’, he plans to extend his line of picks in 2020. ‘I have received more and more requests for personalised combs, thus have decided to launch a bespoke service,’ he says. ‘I really enjoy working closely with my consumers and it inspires me further to come up with new ideas.’ §