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.’

Portrait of designer Chrissa Amuah looking at fabric samples from her collection of upholstery textiles for Bernhardt
Chrissa Amuah at the Bernhardt Design HQ, reviewing her collection of upholstery fabrics

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 Amuah

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. 

Armchair upholstered in blue patterned fabric by Bernhardt Design
An armchair upholstered in Amuah’s ‘Ink’ upholstery fabric for Bernhardt Design in dusk

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 bench upholstered in light blue patterned fabric by Chrissa Amuah for Bernhardt Design
A bench upholstered in a combination of ‘Aya’ in fawn and ‘Snug’ in mushroom, from the Duality collection

‘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.’ §