Let's Talk: Malene B.

Oh boy, it's interview time and today I have the wonderful Malene B. sharing a bit of her time with us. For those of you who don't already know, Malene is an African-American carpet designer based in Brooklyn, New York. As you can easy see from the carpet designs in this post and throughout her site, Malene's work is very much inspired by her world travels but especially by her time spent in various countries throughout Africa and her overall passion for the continent. Her experiences on the continent not only play a role in her textile designs, but clearly make their way into her home as greatly captured by The Selby a few months ago.

What are the first five words that come to mind when you think about Africa?

Colorful, Diverse, History, Beautiful, Strong

What is one of your favorite memories of time spent on the continent?

Going to Ghana in 1995 and experiencing the Ashanti King Otumfuo Nana Opuko Ware II celebrating his silver jubilee and his 75th birthday. The Ashanti King ruled for 25 years and this was a once in a lifetime event. The stadium was brimming with so many people that they appear to be a sea of colorful dots. I was also lucky enough to have the opportunity to walk to visit and take pictures of the Chiefs and Queen Mothers from around Ghana and neighboring countries in the stadium before the festivities.

What first led you to visit Africa and how did you know that it would become a major inspiration for your work?

During my last year of high school I became culturally aware of my African heritage; I discovered through the arts of Africans and in the Diaspora that art is spiritual, cultural, functional and meaningful. I wanted to stay true to my cultural traditions, so I incorporated my heritage into my work; creating functional works of art.

After reading numerous books about the continent, I of course wanted to visit. Nothing beats experience you gain from having first hand knowledge of a place or culture to complete your experience.

What country on the continent would you most like to visit and why?

I have a few places in mind: Mali because I love their textiles, wood carvings and architecture. I would to see their largest mosque that’s made out of mud in Djenne, Mali. And Dogon Country where there is amazing stone architecture within the cliffs of the mountains, and weavers and painters making Mudcloth. Ndebele in South Africa who paint their houses in amazing colors and graphic patterns; it’s been very influential in my work. Also, Morocco to see their amazing tile work, experience the food and to explore the markets; Tanzania to check out their potato print fabrics and lastly Seychelles, Madagascar and Cape Verde Islands.

When you are not traveling and designing carpets, what do you like to do?

I like to go to cultural events, restaurants with an international flair and I also enjoy cooking and entertaining at home.

Where is your favorite hang out spot?

No particular spot. I love walking the streets of New York; you can discover so much.

What is your personal soundtrack of the moment?

Lost in Love by Jonathan Butler, I just keep playing the song over and over

Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?

All of the people I surround myself with continue to encourage and support my endeavors

What has been your proudest achievement?

Maintaining a career in the arts

What is the best lesson you've learned so far?

No matter what you do in life someone will always have something to say about your decision. The key is to make your decisions based on what’s going to make you happy rather than others.

What dream do you still want to fulfill?

Learn a second language; I was really good in French back in the day. Hopefully one day I will really be able to become fluent. Also to have a second home in a warm climate country, so I can leave the states when it’s cold and return for the spring and summer.

What book and/or magazine are your reading right now?

House Beautiful, Uptown Magazine and Write it Down Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser.

Clearly this is a woman after my own heart! Not only do I love her designs but my obsession with color and open, cheerful spaces mean that she would literally have to get kicked out of her home! I honestly can't wait to see how both she and her business evolve with time!

Thanks Malene!

{Photos: Malene B. & The Selby}


Concrete Jungle said...

What a wonderful talent she has....thank you for a great introduction and interview!

rainbowlens said...

Brandi, this was an AWESOME interview! I first saw Malene on Get Togetha and I fell in love with her home! The lighting, the colors! My home inspiration file is filled with images from her. I loved reading about her experiences in Africa; I wish she would blog or write a book.


rainbowlens said...

Whoops! Mis-spelled your name. I meant Brandie. :-)


rainbowlens said...

Ooh she does have a blog, btw. Subscribing!


kelly jo said...

totally impressed by the interviewer and the interviewee. thanks again!