The themes of loss and uncertainty might dominate the highly anticipated Black Panther sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but that has not dampened the triumphant, Afrocentric setting of the fictional kingdom. In fact, making a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo appearance are five designs from the Ethiopian-American furniture designer Jomo Tariku, who also unveiled one of them in person at Salon Art + Design 2022 in New York.
Wakanda Forever featuring Jomo Tariku furniture
For his silver-screen appearance, Tariku worked directly with set designers Lisa Morgan, Molly Ebner, and Academy Award-winner Hannah Beachler. Respected for his ability to translate his experience of Africa’s diverse culture into functional objects, Tariku has recurrently drawn from historical structures, traditional furniture, colours, artefacts, landscapes and hairstyles when creating his work.
Characterised by its modernity, Tariku’s furniture designs have won him numerous accolades, including the 2022 Maker Award from the Black Artists + Designers Guild. His work has also been featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, and most recently, the Baltimore Museum of Art.
In Wakanda Forever, a trio of Tariku’s distinctive stools can be seen on their own and stacked as shelves. Each design was inspired by traditional African motifs; the ‘Ashanti’ is a modern interpretation of the classical Akan stool from Ghana, a ceremonial seat associated with leadership and known for its curved seat and bowed legs. The triangular ‘Boraatii’ stool echoes the shape of traditional headrests found in the Oromia region of Ethiopia, which were used to help protect and preserve hairstyles and weaves while asleep, and the ‘Dogon’ stool nods to small geometric stools found in Mali. Tariku’s contemporary versions each boasts adjustable heights so they can be used either as stools or side tables, depending on needs.
This philosophy carries over to his newest work, the ‘Nyala’ chair, which Tariku unveiled exclusively with New York’s Wexler Gallery. Made from ash wood, finished in black and featuring embedded white acrylic detailing, the chair evokes the shy and elusive antelopes, native to the East African Bale Mountains, in its hand-carved armrests and sturdy legs.
jomotariku.com (opens in new tab)
Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.
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