The Gorgeous Africa-Inspired Furniture Designs Of Jomo Tariku
In “60 Seconds With,” ELLE Decor editor Charles Curkin chats with creatives and industry leaders, getting the scoop on their life and work in one minute or less. In this installment, he chats with Jomo Tariku, the Kenya-born, Virginia-based Ethiopian furniture designer and founder of Jomo Furniture who was featured as part of a story on the Black Artists + Designers Guild in the April 2019 issue of ELLE Decor. His beautiful wood pieces are handmade and inspired by the artisans of Sub-Saharan Africa. Tariku’s one minute starts…now.
When did you come to the United States from Ethiopia?
In 1987 to study industrial design at the University of Kansas.
What are some jobs you worked before starting your furniture studio?
I have been a janitor, a grocery night stocker, and a cashier at a convenience store. These days, I keep a day job as a data scientist at a large NGO.
Tell me about your latest collection.
All of my collections are inspired by my African cultural heritage. The two chairs are the result of my obsession with traditional three-legged stools. The Nyala chair came from a sketch I developed after seeing the beautiful horns of the male mountain antelope, and the MeQuamya chair was inspired by the T-shaped prayer staffs used in Ethiopian Orthodox church ceremonies.
And the Ashanti I and Boratii?
The Ashanti is a reinterpretation of a traditional Ghanaian stool, while the Boratii was inspired by the wooden headrest found in the Oromia region of Ethiopia.