Malian textile designer Boubacar Doumbia introduced Habitat's Rebecca Hoyes to the ancient technique of painting with mud or clay to create patterns on cloth. A combination of soaking the cloth in a dye made from boiled leaves, and then applying fermented mud creates the dark background colour. Iron in the mud reacts with the dye and turns it black.
The initial design process for the collection was carried out with aritsans of the technique in Senegal under Doumbia's direction, using mud brought by fishermen from the Niger river. Hoyes says, "I wanted to explore the contemporary possibilities of the technique, and we are all very happy with the results."
The cushions have been produced in Doumbia's manufacturing studio in Mali, which is run as a social enterprise training young people in textile production and developing their skills in global business.
The graphic black and white designs cost £30 each, and are to launch in Habitat's flagship London stores from September.
The cushions will be shown as part of a new exhibition, Graphic Africa, which opens at Habitat's Platform Gallery (upstairs in the King's Road store) on 14 September. As part of the London Design Festival, Graphic Africa will showcase the work of 16 leading designers from 10 African countries. The show promises to highlight some of the exciting developments in design which are currently happening across the continent.