Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted from Ghana

Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs
Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. 

– Gustave Flaubert

Over the last 18 months, I have been to Ghana, West Africa three times. It’s safe to say I’ve left half my heart in that country.  The people are so authentic… so beautiful, both inside and out.

Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

There is an infinite wealth of design inspiration to be found in other cultures. I truly believe we find beauty in the most desolate places…take the Ghanaian fabric, for example!  Driving in a van, down a red dirt road, against barren landscape, you look out the window and see street vendors clothed in the most colorful fabrics!

In a land that can appear so hopeless from the outside, the traditional Ghanaian textiles exude joy and life with bright colors and distinct patterns.

Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs
photo from afroetic

While working with Touch A Life and Connor’s Song, I teamed up with Veronica Valencia and Christian Prasch to design an art center for children rescued from slavery on Lake Volta.

We really wanted to use local materials to keep the building authentic to their culture. While sourcing fabric, we found this incredible woman, hand dying fabrics, with one arm.

Handmade Ghanian fabrics | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs Handmade Ghanian fabrics | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

Using hand carved block stamps, wax, dyes and a fire pit, she was literally creating the most beautiful fabrics right there on the side of a dirt road!  This type of textile design, called “Batik,” became popular in Africa in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  Now, THIS is craft, y’all!

Handmade Ghanian fabrics | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs Handmade Ghanian fabrics | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

We were so happy to buy from a local vendor!  Taking these fabrics, our talented friend and fellow designer, Heather Hazelwood, made pillows for the art center right there in the Ghanaian sun.

Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

We used the fabrics to add color and cheer to the reading hammock chairs. I just love how the Ghanaian prints actually have meaning as well.  The Ghanaian people are very thoughtful, spiritual and even superstitious. Black, for example, is a color reserved only for funerals. It is bad luck to wear black any other time.

Ghanian pillows | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

A symbol we saw everywhere, from fabrics to wood carvings was this image of a bird turning back to catch its egg:

Sankofa symbol | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

The symbol, called “Sankofa” is a reminder of the importance in learning from our past. Another way the Ghanaian’s interpret this image is to “go back to your roots.” Textile design in this culture truly is inspiring, and has spread messages of hope, respect, love, unity and strength for centuries.

One of our fundraising initiatives included selling handmade Ghanaian patchwork bags. We literally could not keep them in stock! One round sold out by word of mouth, before we even posted them online!

Ghanaian fabric bag | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

Ghana is probably best known for the “Kente” cloth. Before we headed back to the States, I had to stop at the market! Every design of this hand-woven, brightly colored fabric, has a proverbial meaning and story to tell.  Kente cloth is reserved for special ceremonies and events, and shows signs of wealth and significance.

Kenti fabric in Ghana | Worldly Design: Hand-Crafted with Love, from Ghana by Kim Lewis Designs

Traveling truly is part of what makes me “tick” as a designer. I know that in order to inspire others, I must find inspiration myself. I do believe there is such beauty to be seen in the roads less traveled. Next time you pick out a textile for your home, consider the meaning of the pattern, the colors and the history!

Kim Lewis

Check out this little lady with BIG ideas at www.kimlewisdesigns.com

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All photos by Kim Lewis