Chrissa Amuah Explores Her Identity Through Textiles

An art teacher once suggested to Chrissa Amuah that she consider pursuing textiles, but “I couldn’t quite see how you could make a career out of it, so I parked it on the side and went off and did a degree in broadcast journalism,” recalls the London-based designer.

Years later, it dawned on her that she “was always working in creative spaces, but I was never the creative myself, and I kind of resented that,” she says. She investigated various outlets, but as her former teacher predicted, it was the textiles classes Amuah enrolled in that captivated her most. A master’s degree from the Chelsea College of Art & Design soon followed.

For some eight years now, Amuah has been charging ahead, her works catching the eye of industry folks like Jerry Helling, president and creative director of Bernhardt Design, who asked her to craft a collection. The result is Duality, an exploration of Amuah’s passion for color, texture, and optical layers as much as it is an ode to her Ghanaian roots and a country she feels tremendous pride for. “I was born and raised in the UK, but we go to Ghana every year and I’ve always lived with a sense of duality—this duality of culture and heritage,” she says.

The Sella pattern, part of Amuah’s Duality collection for Bernhardt Design, nods to Ghanaian asesegua seats

Amuah, who also co-designed the Ghana installation at this year’s London Design Biennale with architect Alice Asafu-Adjaye, drew specifically from Ghana’s complex Adinkra symbols for Duality. “They’ve existed for centuries, and their purpose and intention is to encourage our personal wellbeing and social harmony,” she explains. “The world is often fed a narrative about Africa that is so restrictive and reductive, and for me this is something positive that Africa can teach the world, this whole idea of enveloping our personal living spaces with symbology that makes us feel better, whether it’s on a conscious or subconscious level.”

Duality’s six patterns—Aya, Still, Ink, Snug, Sella, and Touch—have sprung to life from Amuah’s sketches and ink drizzles, embracing materials including chenille yarn and recycled polyester to portray such themes as endurance and peace. “How powerful it is,” says Amuah, “to create a design that isn’t just beautiful on the surface but has meaning.”

Ink’s design was created by drizzling ink on pieces of walnut veneer and letting it bleed onto the wood grain

This article originally appeared in HD’s 2021 Product Marketplace issue.

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