Meet the Maker: AphroChic

The Exploration of Black Design and the Black Home

This article is part of our Celebrate Black Makers content series designed to spotlight the stories and perspectives that our Black-owned supplier partners bring to the home industry. 

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In 2007, husband-and-wife team Jeanine Hays and Bryan Mason started AphroChic as a blog and personal passion for design that has since evolved into a modern design and media brand celebrating creativity across the African Diaspora. The launch of their diverse home decor blog and the product line that followed was born out of a response to the lack of representation of Black homes and home decor in both retail and modern media outlets. Jeanine would go out of her way to source pillows and fabrics for her home when she couldn’t find anything that spoke to her culturally. As their work continued to evolve, they kept asking themselves how they could not only create products that are representative of and speak to a Black audience, but also develop products and pieces that help people tell their own story at home. “Everything that we do is really around the intersection of design and culture, specifically African Diaspora culture,” shared Bryan. “And looking at design as a cultural artifact gives us a lens on so many historical, social, political, economic processes that really combine to make up our lives.” Over the last 15 years, their brand continued to expand to include wallpaper, pillows, lighting, bedding, and more.

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During that time, Jeanine and Bryan’s work to explore the Black home aesthetic has been pivotal in the development of their brand.. Certain styles of design have always been traditionally associated with specific elements — such as Scandinavian style and its emphasis on light tones, and Mediterranean design’s colorful mosaics. For Jeanine and Bryan, authors of AphroChic: Celebrating the Legacy of the Black Family Home, African American design is not rooted in a specific color palette, medium, or shape. Rather there is a particular “feel” that typifies and connects Black homes — one grounded in and reflective of the many diverse moments and experiences that have shaped African American history specifically and the African Diaspora as a whole. “Design is a reflection of culture. So when we're talking about design aesthetics, we're talking about culture. Black design really has its own sort of cultural pinpoints and it's not necessarily about aesthetic choice,” expressed Jeanine. Through their book, magazine and products, the couple documents the Black home as a place for Black Americans to tell their stories openly and freely — with a variety of colors, furnishings, and art that reflects the diverse stories and experiences that are housed within. “It’s the feel of the home. It’s an aesthetic defined, not by its constituent components but by its resulting product, and the effect — the connection — that it creates for the person that occupies the space.”

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AphroChic products are true celebrations of culture, with rich, colorful patterns and modern aesthetics that add depth and a sense of story to every room. In reflecting on the home decor industry, Jeanine and Bryan observe that because Black homes, Black designers and Black consumers are not sufficiently visible in the market, retailers’ offerings don’t fully reflect the diversity of their customers or their tastes. Jeanine and Bryan have continued to advocate for retailers to understand the importance of inclusivity and unpack what that means in action. As Bryan notes, “Design is diverse by nature because the world is diverse. So we don’t need to work to make design inclusive, we need to stop working to make the industry exclusive.”

AphroChic has partnered with Wayfair to create a space to tell their story and introduce their products to a new audience, shop their products here.