Ozwald Boateng, a Ghana-born fashion designer, mastered the art of tailoring by apprenticing in Britain’s famed Savile Row. Now, he’s dressing up furniture.
Ozwald has joined forces with the Italian furniture and lifestyle brand Poltrona Frau to bring his artisan textiles to their armchairs and accessories. The new collection, called Culture & Craft, merges cultural heritage, like Ozwald’s Ghanaian roots, with the signature craftsmanship and sustainable materials Poltrona Frau has developed.
“The opportunity to bring my menswear design expertise into the realm of furniture has always been a personal aspiration of mine,” Ozwald said in a release. “It’s been a journey to find the perfect partner who shares my vision and values. Poltrona Frau’s unwavering dedication to precision, quality, and impeccable Italian craftsmanship aligns seamlessly with my own commitment to creating pieces that transcend mere functionality.”
The collection, which debuted at London Design Week in September, covers many of Poltrona Frau’s best-sellers in Ozwald’s signature Tribal print. The fabric is inspired by Kente cloth, a geometric pattern that originated with Ghana’s Ashanti/Akan people and was worn during ceremonies and spiritual events. The design is made up of delicate points that flare out like a sunburst. They curve, link, and mesh together, evoking chainmail or a protective talisman.
Kente patterns are normally colorful, but Poltrona Frau elects to make Tribal monochrome so that the Culture & Craft collection can fit into many interior schemes. To make the fabric pop, they’ve focused instead on textures, embossing the design into their Pelle Frau® Nubuck Leather and printing it onto velvet. They are available in deep, saturated hues of red, yellow, purple, green, blue, and black.
Incidentally, this collaboration explores connections between history, globalization, and cross-pollination. Poltrona Frau swaths Ozwald’s African print over their Chester sofa, a regal piece with tufted details and dramatic, rolled and pleated armrests. The design is based on Chesterfield sofas from Britain’s Edwardian era, and during this time, Ghana was still a British colony known as the Gold Coast. Wrapped in Ozwald’s fabric, the collection feels like an attempt to decolonize design.
“This collaboration was our way of pioneering a narrative that celebrates sustainability and diversity in the world of high-end Italian design with passion, uniqueness and innovation. We named the initiative Culture and Craft which is the true essence of the partnership,” said Leonardo Allasia, director of global marketing and communications.
The collaboration also extends to the Poltrona Frau Vanity Fair armchair, a padded chair in matte velvet, and accessories in the brand’s Beautilities line. These items emphasize craftsmanship, stunning aesthetics, and impeccable functionality. Items in the Beautilities line include a wool rug, throw cushions, and wallpaper, in case one wants to make Ozwald’s print more of an accent rather than the main attraction.
Poltrona Frau also celebrates Ozwald’s heritage with a reinvention of Mancala, a board game played across Africa. In the Beautilities edition, the game pieces, traditionally seeds, are crafted from Murano glass by skilled artisans, glistening like small drops of water.
Together, Ozwald and Poltrona Frau show that blending culture reinvents and interrogates design history without sacrificing style.