The word bohemian is everywhere in the style world these days, as traditional textiles become more and more part of designers’ palettes.
When I work on my one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture, bags and home accessories, I look to the long-standing history of textiles to help me create my own definition of bohemian style.
A world traveler, I’m inspired by the color and pattern play of indigenous cultures and costumes from Guatemala, Mexico and other parts of the world. To me, bohemian style speaks to these people’s ability to match the seemingly unmatchable, to bring together patterns, bold colors, contrasting flowers, stripes, dots and layers in ways that make their wearer look unique, regal, intricate and interesting.
There’s an art form to finding this delicate balance. Women in Guatemala, Mexico, and in many parts of the world master colors and textures like artists when it comes to their daily costumes. Their sense of style is more is more! So different than in modern societies, where elegance is often associated with less color, less pattern.
With this in mind, my Folk Project pieces freely mix geography, cultural groups, shapes and styles—a new bohemian blend that finds the perfect middle ground between minimalism and more is more. The traditional meets modern in my timeless designs. Clean mid-century furniture frames are offset by the energetic pattern play and vibrant colors I artfully arrange. A geometric ikat is matched with a floral huipil; Peruvian frazadas are accented by lush velvet; nahau fabrics and pompoms pair together in perfect harmony.
As a designer, this new bohemian style offers endless options for me. Like a puzzle, I piece my work together, layering color, texture and pattern until each one is just right. Every fragment of fabric inspires me, and the possibilities are seemingly endless. Sometimes the playful, bright color palette is refined with the simple lines of modern silhouettes. Other times I embrace excess, and go for a more intricate profile of a channel back or peacock chair. Whatever the design, I aim for a sense of controlled chaos, a harmony of pigment, pattern and form.
True personal style comes from mixing our varied interests and bringing together all the influences that inspire us. This new bohemianism recognizes the complexity of life in our modern, connected and global world. It’s a sense of wanderlust and travel to distant places, met with a comfortable and cozy, lived-in feel. It’s pairing textures, tones and materials, creating a palette that celebrates what makes us feel good and crafting a living space that’s representative of our own unique style and life story.
Bohemian, and all it refers to, is a world where everything can be mixed but in an interesting, non-conventional way. It allows more freedom and isn’t ruled by trends. It’s a genre where personal taste, experiences and objects mix. It allows someone to weave stories together just like I do. It brings together worlds that would never meet in real life. It brings together past and future, the unique with the global.
Merijam Roelofs is the founder and creator of Folk Project. She finds inspiration in the material culture of people still living in a traditional way. Her work focuses on ancient textiles, like “boutis” from Provence, as well as recycled fabrics.