[Print] Rooted in Africa: Designer Jomo Tariku on Reimagining African Furniture
Growing up in Ethiopia in the 1970s, Jomo Tariku was always surrounded by beautiful things. His father—a US-educated colonel in the Ethiopian army, designated the first military attaché to Kenya—was a consummate collector of glassware, furniture, rugs and objets d'art, acquired on his travels within Africa and beyond. “I believe that left a lasting impression on me and what I do now for a living,” says the Nairobi-born, Virginia-based industrial designer. At the behest of his father (who wanted to keep his two young sons out of trouble), a young Tariku did a summer apprenticeship programme at a local furniture builder in Addis Ababa before moving to the United States in 1987 to pursue a degree in industrial design at the University of Kansas. It was there, while he was completing his thesis on contemporary African furniture, that his design practice was born. And yet, it would take another thirty years for the world to truly sit up and take notice.