Can mud cloth from Mali and “MCM” — also known as Mid Century style — go together? Can they live happily together in one piece? Well, let’s see. Here’s what mud cloth looks like, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about:
That’s a mudcloth I “designed” with a fun interactive feature on the Museum of Natural History’s website, where you can make your own mudcloth – check it out. As you go through it, it tells you how mud cloth is made and the meaning behind the designs.
Mud cloth is also called Bògòlanfini. It’s made with strips of cotton cloth sewed together, and then painted with patterns that have significant cultural meanings that tell a story. It’s painted with fermented mud gathered from riverbeds, thus the name mud cloth. It can take weeks of work to make one mud cloth.
I own a few pieces of mud cloth. One found this summer at Chicago’s Randolph Street Market (there’s always some there from a vendor who sells wares from Africa) and a large piece I found at the famous Mustapha Blaoui store in Marrakech last month. At that TripAdvisor link about the store, you’ll see a review by Starr Covey Perry who was with our group and I snapped photos of her buying her rug! It is indeed a beautiful rug. Now I’m kicking myself for not buying a rug. But I did get mud cloth which was one thing I wanted to find and I knew Mustapha Blaoui had it:
This might be CRAZY, but I want to replace the black vinyl on this Mid Century style chair with mud cloth:
I can’t help but think of Mid Century as a hipster style thing. But I got this chair 20 years ago when I was hipster age and went through a Mid Century stage! Unfortunately I did not treat this chair well. The white plastic was scratched and to cover that, I spray painted it with that faux stone-look paint. Like THAT’S an improvement? I thought it looked cool at the time, 20 years ago. Maybe in 20 more years I’ll look back at this mud cloth phase and wonder, what was I thinking putting mud cloth on that chair? But I’m gonna do it. So that’s a DIY post coming soon.
So has anyone else mixed mud cloth and Mid Century? (Is it too geeky to say MC²?)
Yes! Some people have …
Here’s mud cloth on a stool with Mid Century style. It’s now sold, but it was from Etsy shop ChezBoheme:
Apartment Therapy reported on a collaboration between Philadelphia design company HYM Salvage and Urban Outfitters that resulted in this version of “mud + mod”:
And they made this stool/ottoman:
And this chair, with sleek metal detail that contrasts with the handmade cloth:
A piece of mudcloth is simply draped over a bench, to add pattern and color at Design Manifest. I like how they mixed the geometric mud cloth with the pillow pattern:
Via Rent Patina, how about these two examples of chairs upholstered with mud cloth – one is a wingback, the other like Danish Modern or Mid Century:
Here’s a different view:
This is a 1970s chair with a sexy sculptural shape, paired with mud cloth. Chair now sold, but was at 1stdibs:
So it seems that yes, “mud” and “mod” can be paired together!
Watch for a DIY coming here soon where I reupholster the black vinyl on my Mid Century chair with white plastic curves reminiscent of Eero Saarinen style. The chair is a relic I still own from the days in my 20s when I worshipped Mid Century. I’m not into Mid Century now but this chair is so cute and comfortable, I could never let it go. So we’ll see if I can weave together favorite styles from the past and present!