Monday, June 29, 2009

A novel use for Seshweshwe?

Shwe what? you ask! Seshweshwe (se-shwe-shwe) of just shweshwe (shwe-shwe), a "traditional" South African geometrically printed cloth/ fabric, which has an extremely rich history and background. In her article, Cottoning onto Shweshwe chic written for the website South Africa Info, Claire Fulton describes shweshwe as: "the ethnic print 'indigo cloth' synonymous with traditional black South African dress - (and) has slaves, German settlers, Basutho King Moshoeshoe and the catwalks of New York, woven into it's story."

Shweshwe has been extensively used over many, many years for making traditional African clothing, but has also recently taken on a trendy edge, possibly because of the amazingly intricate patterns, hard wearing cotton fabric and bright colour - most often in red, blue and brown, so it's now also used in shoes, and in a vast number of interior decor or home items.

I came across these vintage chairs recently, whose chair pads have been upholstered in the blue/indigo form of shweshwe fabric - suddenly, what would be considered a normal, simple vintage chair has taken on the air of a chic, African item and yet still has an edge of vintage quirkiness. Of course the room was put together very well, which truly does justice to the shweshwe fabric chair pads. Note the overall blue and white scheme, but in particular the "weathered" blue stained floorboards and the blue items on the table - all in all a fun dining area. Anyone for lunch?

For more info on shweshwe at South Africa Info, click here or at SA Fabrics Info, click here .

Photography taken by Gena at Rust in White, Cullinan, South Africa.

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