Tariq Dixon isn’t fazed. While the pandemic has presented new challenges for designers, the creative polymath behind the furniture brand Trnk has been in problem-solving mode, shifting his business toward more conscious consumption and livability.
Coming from Baltimore, the Harvard alum gained a newfound appreciation for the home after moving to New York. “As I was maturing into my late twenties, I had the privilege to create a space of my own for the first time," he says, by phone from his Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, apartment, where he’s surrounded by two chairs made with the Nova Scotia–based firm Studio Anansi—part of a collaboration launching this month.
Trnk, the online vintage design shop that Dixon founded in 2013, has evolved into a curatorial platform and retailer where works—his own and others’—can be more deeply contextualized. “Introducing new points of view through people of color and other marginalized groups gives design new cultural relevance,” reflects Dixon, whose fall 2020 show “Provenanced” explored African and Indigenous contributions to Western art and design.
His Studio Anansi collaboration pushes that conversation forward. As research, designer Evan Jerry studied the modernist structures that were erected in Africa in the mid 20th century, drawing a line between African aesthetics and modernism and questioning why some ideas are only elevated when reflected through a western lens. In his collection, a sculptural sofa and ottoman nod to art objects by the Bambara people of Mali, while mohair rugs are inspired by Kifwebe masks, worn by the Songye people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“[Jerry] said it's the first time that he was able to compose a collection in this way—with a strong narrative that didn’t have to be diluted,” Dixon adds. “The industry can only serve to benefit from expanding those stories in a way that is unique.”
Still, Dixon doesn’t expect change overnight. Dismantling systems that privilege whiteness will take time and work. “The industry needs to confront how it values, validates, and rarefies ideas,” he says. “That requires a complete deconstruction of your biases, and a much more active process of interrogation. But the first step is certainly having these conversations. We’re making progress.” trnk-nyc.com
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest