Comb through Simon Skinner’s afropicks

We revisit Simon Skinner's Wallpaper* Design Awards 2020-nominated afropicks

A range of afropicks on a dark grey background
Each of the eight picks is named after a person of African heritage whom the designer spent time with during the research phase
(Image credit: TBC)

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

(Image credit: TBC)

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.’

Harriet Lloyd-Smith was the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.