Woodworking Projects

Inspiring heritage


Through his work, Jomu Tariku hopes to change the world's perception of African design.

Synopsis: Jomo Tariku drew inspiration for his chairs from a mountain antelope native to Ethiopia. Through his work, he hopes to change the world’s perception of African design.

The spiraling horns of the nyala, a mountain antelope native to the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia, have long fascinated furniture designer Jomo Tariku. Born in Kenya and raised in Ethiopia, Tariku studied industrial design at the University of Kansas before settling near Washington, D.C., in 2000. Somewhere along the line, those horns made their way into his sketchbook and, as he has in a range of other recent seating pieces, Tariku drew inspiration from an element of his African heritage as he designed his Nyala chairs.

This pair, in ebonized ash, were built by David Bohnhoff, Tariku’s frequent collaborator. “Through my work,” Tariku says, “I aspire to change the world’s perception of African design while exploring contemporary form. I want to continue the African tradition of creating objects with embedded meaning while maintaining their utility.” He is certainly succeeding; for more evidence of that, see Designer’s Notebook on p. 28. And you can see Nyala chairs in person at Philadelphia’s Wexler Gallery.

Inspiring Heritage

—Jonathan Binzen

Photos: Jomo Tariku.

From Fine woodworking #303

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