Tribal Takeover

What does “tribal” say to me? It says: I’m not afraid to take chances. I’ve been around the world and back. I know how to have fun. Playing with tribal lets us unleash our inner ferocity and take risks with color, texture, and especially pattern. So it’s no surprise that it’s been a statement-making theme in both the interior design and fashion worlds.

Just look how fierce these women look in tribal-inspired pieces from Donna Karan’s Spring 2012 collection. We all know I love Donna Karan, and one of the reasons why is that she is all about empowerment. Not everybody would turn to such bold patterns in their design, but she’s all about risk-taking. (And so am I!)

What makes tribal cool is that when you mix it in with contemporary and modern home décor elements, it gives it that certain edgy quality. It doesn’t have to be taken literally to give you an ethnic, bohemian look. The animal and geometric prints in tribal pieces add a hint of the unexpected. They open up a bigger world in terms of being able to accessorize, be playful, and infuse color into your life. Versatility is key. With touches of inspiration from all over the globe, the possibilities for tribal are limitless.

The bold prints and earthy tones are seriously statement-making. Throw an ikat rug into a neutral space and suddenly your room packs a punch! A little truly goes a long way with this look. And those details…beadwork, embroidery, clay and wood materials, frayed edges…what’s not to love!

Design companies have been quick to jump on board the tribal bandwagon.  Schumacher (top left) revealed their Spring 2012 collection to feature an exotic mix of paisleys, ikats and ornamental designs while upholstered pieces at Manglam Arts (bottom left) and Patrick Charles (right) added a touch of global glamour at this year’s New York International Gift Show.

Even the mass marketed products have begun leaning toward a one-of-a-kind flair, which enables people to feel as if their home was handmade by exotic artisans (but without the huge price tag — don’t worry, we won’t tell!). There is certainly a tribal influence in Anthropologie’s latest arrivals. A variety of furniture, rugs, pillows and decorative accessories are displayed in graphic ikat prints, bold zig-zags and earthy tones while Jonathan Adler recently released several kilim rugs in his summer line.

The term “tribal” can be widely interpreted, from bold prints to African masks, geometric motifs to wooden accessories. That’s why I love it! It allows you to tailor it to your own personal tastes. As I always say, we all have our own version of fabulous. For me, it’s all about being bold, adding a flair of the unexpected, and most of all, having fun!