Chrissa Amuah designs upholstery textiles inspired by her Ghanaian heritage for Bernhardt Design

Bernhardt Design unveils its collaboration with Chrissa Amuah: titled Duality, the collection of upholstery fabrics features six patterns and 56 colourways, inspired by the British-Ghanaian designer's heritage

The 'Sella' textile covers the wall in yellow, blue and red, with line and circle patterns on it. In from of the wall are the traditional Ghanaian asesegua seats made out of wood.
Traditional Ghanaian asesegua seats stand in front of a series of panels covered in the ‘Sella’ textile, for Bernhardt Design and inspired by the stools
(Image credit: Chrissa Amuah)

Bernhardt Design unveils the Duality collection, a series of upholstery textiles designed by British-Ghanaian designer Chrissa Amuah and featuring a palette of 56 colours over six different patterns.

The collection, Amuah explains, was inspired by Ghanaian heritage, including symbolism, textures, colours and traditional patterns. ‘On trips to Ghana, I would see these symbols etched in the surfaces of everyday life, from jewellery to architecture,’ says the designer.

‘Therefore, my design vision developed naturally. I saw that Ghanaian symbology offered the chance to establish a design blueprint that is contemporary and beautiful, but also has an underlying meaning – one that consciously or subconsciously sends empowering messages.’

A portrait of Chrissa Amuah looking at the textiles.

Chrissa Amuah at the Bernhardt Design HQ, reviewing her collection of upholstery fabrics

(Image credit: Chrissa Amuah)

Among the collection’s six designs is the patterned ‘Aya’ fabric, inspired by the West African Adinkra symbol for fern: ‘The fern is a symbol of endurance and resourcefulness, which is a very hopeful message,’ says Amuah. ‘I used a super-fine chenille yarn to float above the abstracted fern symbols to create an overlay effect.’ She imagined the ‘Aya’ pattern in combination with another from the collection, ‘Still’, a monochromatic textured fabric available in a rich palette of 18 colours.

‘Ink’, meanwhile, is a design Amuah created by drizzling ink on pieces of walnut veneer and letting it bleed into the wood grain. ‘It was wonderful because I had limited control of the outcome. The ink spread to form unique lines, creating an abstract pattern,’ she says. These patterns were then replicated on thick, textured chenille and printed in four hues. As with the pairing of ‘Aya’ and ‘Still’, ‘Ink’ is imagined in combination with another design, a textured bouclé called ‘Snug’.

I saw that Ghanaian symbology offered the chance to establish a design blueprint that is contemporary and beautiful, but also sends empowering messages

Chrissa Amuahere

More Ghanaian inspiration can be found in the ‘Sella’ textile, whose name references the Latin for ‘stool’ and whose design nods to the country’s traditional asesegua seat. Explains Amuah: ‘The asesegua has a long history and takes many forms, from a commonly used wooden stool to elaborate versions created for royalty.’ The design for this fabric was sketched by Amuah by hand, abstractly replicating the familiar forms of the asesegua. 

A blue armchair with a black pattern on it. Next to it is a cylinder-shaped wooden side table with a mug on it.

An armchair upholstered in Amuah’s ‘Ink’ upholstery fabric for Bernhardt Design in dusk

(Image credit: Chrissa Amuah)

The final material in the collection is called ‘Touch’, a finely textured fabric created using two complementary yarns in contrasting shades, creating a fine pattern that has vibrancy and depth.

Alongside her heritage, Amuah also explored colour and its symbolic meanings when putting together the collection’s palette. ‘Colours offer their own visual indicators and work with patterns to form a complete picture,’ she notes. ‘The meanings of different colours can change based on context, which may include: intended message, occasion, status, or even age.’

A gray and beige upholstered bench, with a darker gray pattern on it. Behind the bench are fabrics leaning on the wall.

A bench upholstered in a combination of ‘Aya’ in fawn and ‘Snug’ in mushroom, from the Duality collection

(Image credit: Chrissa Amuah)

‘Chrissa is an amazing artist because she captures ideas that have very personal meaning, and she transforms them into an accessible design form,’ says Jerry Helling, president of Bernhardt Design. ‘She was able to abstract these inspirations to create sophisticated and modern fabrics beautifully.’


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.