Modern Ethnic is a style sensibility for the modern nomad, a free spirit with a deep soulful connection to places thousands of miles away. This home brings to life visions of the warm wafting winds at a caravan serai in the far reaches of the Sahara, the drumbeats pounding out of an African village in Senegal, and the strains of an Indian flute somewhere by the river in Benares, in an eclectic mix of 'exotic meets modern' decor choices. Rich terracottas and indigo blues combine in unabashed abandon in stunning ethnic motifs on fabrics, art, and pottery. Yet, the very modern interpretations of tribal art and furniture make the style of the Modern Ethnic home imminently accessible and welcoming.
Modern Ethnic - For The 21st Century Wanderer
The Modern Ethnic style is a soulful new update on an avant garde lifestyle; perfect for a world where borders cease to matter and art and culture bring everyone together. Whether you're a nomad of the times - moving often from place to place, or someone whose travels are more of the mind and spirit - devouring music, literature, and ideas from exotic faraway lands while ensconced in the comfort of your own home, the Modern Ethnic style has a way of nudging its way into your life, effortlessly.
Turn back the pages of time to a few centuries ago, and you'll find the colonial wanderer with his zest for life and new lands. Closer to present reality, the bohemian culture of the 1960s swept up a generation, buoyed by cultural changes through the Maharishi movement that even The Beatles couldn't resist. And like the hermit-style living quarters the fab four called home during their time at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Ashram in India, the Modern Ethnic style is simultaneously in tune with present day needs and traditional vernacular design.
It's no surprise then, that those with a penchant for Modern Ethnic lean towards icons like Buddha, who committed his life to finding something bigger than himself. All it takes is a little something to spur on an insatiable thirst for travel, new experiences, the discovery of diverse cultures, and spirituality. And that spark could come from the Orient, Turkey, India, Morocco, Africa, the Middle East, or even Mexico and Latin America.
Drawing inspiration from grand edifices like the Alhambra, which was originally built to be a military fortress and later transitioned into a royal residence, the Modern Ethnic architectural and design style too can be whatever you imagine it to be - at once a new age home and ode to the past. Archways, rustic wall finishes, patterns, and carvings find their way into a home that makes the most of local architectural styles from around the world. Indian architect Nari Gandhi's(a friend of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright) organic architectural style used local earth and stone to create forms and shapes in the homes he created in and around Mumbai in India; his craftsman-like design may find its way to a Modern Ethnic home as well. Elements of this earthiness are to be found in other regions of the world too.
Like the serene Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge swathed in flora of the UNESCO World Heritage Okavango Delta in Africa. The architects and designers tasked with creating this masterpiece that brings vernacular architecture of the region into a modern context, managed to create a property that blends seamlessly into its setting while imbuing the interiors with flourishes of luxury. The piece de resistance is the main building, whose cedar shingles are designed to resemble a pangolin, a local mammal not unlike an armadillo.
It's hard to miss the color in this home, yet it is never too loud or too bright. The squash golds, turquoise, salmon, brick red, bear an uncanny resemblance to both the desert sky and its landscape. The warmth of earthy mustards and reds and greens recollect turmeric, chilli, and cardamom. All of it somehow organic and natural, the underlying philosophy of all things Modern Ethnic.
Soft fluid curves on the furniture, feather-soft cottons and pure silks in the curtains that brush against the skin, and beautiful fabrics with earthy motifs and eye-catching tribal prints envelope any visitor to the home in a cocoon of comfort, transporting them to somewhere far away, yet remaining reassuringly familiar. Just as berber tents welcomed guests, giving them the comfort they yearned in harsh lands against daunting odds. Flaps of fabric billowing in the winds, promising weary travelers a warm meal and shelter for the night.
Indulge Your Love For The Exotic
There is poetry in the conscious asymmetry of your home. The unexpected mix of objects aesthetically pleasing in a manner only someone with a Modern Ethnic leaning could have curated. No two things in a room are exactly alike - not that pair of Aztec-inspired clay artefacts a thoughtful friend brought back from Mexico, nor the bells you picked up outside a Pagoda in Burma. Quite simply, like those who live here, the decor of this home has no rigid rules, no immovable rights and wrongs. It evolves, changing with your needs, channeling your eye for vernacular design and architectural elements.
For someone with a love of the Modern Ethnic style, the world is your oyster! With mosaics for instance, you could pick from the spiritual visuals of Mayan art, the geometric patterns from Persian art, floral geometrics from Mexico, or more ornate deep hued Moroccan designs. Sculptures too find a place in your home, whether they are African bronze or wood tribal masks or terracotta horses from India.
Vintage patchwork rugs from Anatolia, or gypsy style Indian embroidered rugs shimmering with the tiniest of mirrored sequins transport the beholder to a far off land. Thoughtfully placed ottomans and swing chairs from Marrakesh present an opportunity to sit down and rest.
Metallic objects have a quiet, almost royal sheen to them, and the copper cezve artistically adorning your wooden center table brings back memories of triumphant shopping expeditions. It's hard not to love the beautifully shaped coffee pot and the plate upon which it sits, especially when it was accompanied by a dramatic tale of triumph from the shopkeeper. What a 21st century quest it is to navigate the maze of bylanes of Gaziantep in Southeastern Anatolia from where he acquired it!
Find Your Own Road
You don't need to own a Byzantine palace to have mosaics or a stunning touch of gilt in your home. While the originals in The Imperial Palace of Constantinople might have been made from 80 million little cubes of colored lime, terracotta, and glass, you can settle for a gorgeous Turkish Mosaic lamp picked up at Camden market, or Persian inspired blue-green hued tiles inlaid on a side table or a decorative tray.
The distinctive comfort of a textured dhurrie or Turkish kilim rug feels just right under your feet, contrasting against the neutral palette of the floor. Organic and natural looking light fixtures like a jute lamp make the perfect addition. If you're playful enough(some may call it brave!), you could transform a living room with floor cushions in Moroccan motifs, use saris with Indian Ikat prints as wall decor, or create what some call "story islands", with clusters of interesting objects to create a vignette.
Tread the fine line between 21st century minimalist style and ethnic flourishes rooted in cultures with centuries of history, to develop a unique look that bears the imprint of its origins with a modern familiarity. Brands like the unusual Xoologee ceramics are a match made in heaven for your love of updated ethnic decor. After all, who could resist the glossy rhinos casually wandering across a monochrome platter? Or hippos enjoying a luxurious soak in your cereal bowl? Even nordic design brands do their share of patterns and colors that echo more ethnic styles. Plus, these aren't overtly traditional, so you'll often find yourself striking it lucky in very 21st century stores too. And that works a treat for you, because you love it when things aren't too obvious.
A Reflection Of You
Flea markets and exotic bazaars are your cup of tea(a beverage you often turn to when that impossibly dark spiced caramel sweetened Kahawa coffee from Ethiopia isn't at hand!). Your shelves are lined with an eclectic mix of books, and you may be found immersed deeply in an Orhan Pamuk classic, perusing a well-thumbed copy of an Alexander Mccall Smith novel, or flipping through the pages of the latest Conde Nast Traveller on your tablet(because everyone needs technology!). Delicious smells of spices waft gently out of your indigo blue kitchen, as you rustle up an aromatic tagine in its earthen pot, or have curry night with friends. For when you're lazy, there's always Comptoir Libanais!
You delight in time spent at stores like Bert & May, which seem to understand your need for modern ethnic style tiles, throws, cushions and more! A stark graphic grey and white avant garde pattern on the tiling in your kitchen reveals its Latin American roots and Aztec inspiration on second glance. A piece of Africa finds its way into stores on local shores too, so you may be able to pick up that utterly original, eye-catching Zenzulu bowl which combines traditional bead and wire weaving techniques from South Africa, with modern materials like telephone wires.
When you aren't in your fold, you're likely to be traipsing around the globe, wandering the bylanes of exotic Fez in Morocco, visiting a tribal village in Nagaland in India, or perhaps exploring the legendary Puno market on your way to Macchu Picchu in Peru, stocking up on inspiration. Tangible inspiration like traditional handcrafted jewelry or embroidered cushion covers. And intangibles like the visions of the new room divider made from soft semi-sheer block printed muslin you'll put into your home when you get back.
You try and make time for special events like the World of Music, Arts and Dance Festival better known as WOMAD, every year. After all, you could be moved by the rhythmic drumming of an African musician, the lilting melodies from a flute player in a modern Indian music ensemble, or appreciate an exotic new string instrument you've never heard before.The festival's founder and musician Peter Gabriel came up with the idea for WOMAD back in 1980 when he chanced upon an entirely new kind of African music he hadn't been exposed to before. He'd been hunting down inspiration for a new song "Biko", that he was composing in memory of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, when he was entranced by this unusual new sound. And WOMAD was born! Which is where you're to be found every July, because it's that perfect blend of everything you love in the universe! There's no better place to discover new artists from the world over as you grow your collection of music beyond those much-treasured Cafe Del Mar playlists.
Like Buddha, whose likenesses adorn your home in interesting conversation-starter sculptures or artwork, you too are reflective. And this beautiful home of yours is the perfect backdrop for journeys both in the world outside, and within. The Modern Ethnic home is there to remind you of all the world has to offer, to help you be inspired, and to enable you to take little pieces of what you see, learn, or acquire, and make it your very own. With the Modern Ethnic home, it is easy to see how beautiful the world can be, and to be completely enchanted by something that wasn't quite yours to begin with, but somehow, with some artful and thoughtful planning has managed to become intrinsic to your life, to your world.