Its one thing to have a beautiful accent chair. Its another thing to have a beautiful accent chair with a story. The latter is the case with CM Design Atelier’s contemporary Yoruba Aso Oke accent chair. Inspired by the Yoruba culture of gifting Aso Oke during celebrations and occasions, the idea is the brain child of Tosin Oshinowo, Principal architect of CM Design Atelier. Armed with a fairly broad selection of Aso Oke fabric acquired over the years, she began upholstering contemporary arm chairs to create a regal accent piece that showcases the pattern, colour and texture of the various iterations of cultural Yoruba fabric.
Here’s how she defines the collection,
Yoruba history is encapsulated in the Fabric of Aso Oke. Aso-Oke is the abbreviation of ‘Aso Ilu Oke’ meaning clothes from the up-country. It is the traditional wear of the Yoruba ethic group and is worn on special occasions as celebratory dress. The fabric is so important that in previous times Aso Oke ‘was’ and ‘is’ willed down generations and as such it is not uncommon to ﬁnd fabric in families over 100 years old.
The Fabric varies and is unique to different parts of Yoruba Land, traditionally clan men could be identiﬁed by the colour and pattern of the fabric. The fabric has mutated over the decades and as such, people recognize it dependent on it’s heyday popularity.
Aso Oke is made from cotton, which is woven into threads. The weaver spreads the cotton and rolls it on the loom. The Spindler would be turned, and while it is being turned, it will start rotating and thins out the cotton. This is done on a continuous basis till all the cotton has been spun. Aso Oke is a tough resilient fabric, traditionally not washed but beaten to keep clean.
So what happens to all the Aso Oke when the pageantry and pomp of the festive dress is done?
In many cases, these rich fabrics are banished to bottom of wardrobes. We found another way to celebrate our culture and history by transforming these fabrics with their beautiful tessellations into bespoke furniture.
THE ASO OKE CHAIRS.
Every chair is different as they are made from reclaimed pieces. The combination of a variety of colours and textures celebrates the uniqueness in Yoruba Culture.
THE ASHADU 1&2
LILAC ASO OKE
THE ALARI SERIES
The chairs are vibrant and energetic, portraying the richness and character of the Aso-oke fabric. Its a rare gem and certainly not as common as ankara-inspired pieces that tend to be most of what you see in terms of “African traditional design”.