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In Interior inspiration

By Elke Leemans

An ethnic interior: here’s how you do it!

On 22, Jul 2020 | No Comments | In Interior inspiration | By Elke Leemans

The best description for an ethnic interior is, perhaps, having a holiday vibe, all year round. Influences from all around the world combine to create a pleasant, eclectic mix that just makes you want to stay there forever. But how do you decorate using ethnic styles without turning it into a cacophony of colours and materials?

Earthy colours: the foundation of a successful ethnic interior

When we think of an ethnic interior, we picture a bright procession of colours with cushions, hassocks, carpets, masks, and so on. Colour is fun and can bring an interior to life, but as with anything, moderation is the key. That is why it is wise to provide a quiet base. Warm, earthy tones are perfect for this. They combine easily with heavier shades and add balance.

Less is not more

In an ethnic design, less is certainly not more. The cosiness of an ethnic interior often lies in the number of accessories and variety of furniture. Tediousness is out of the question. Make sure your interior doesn’t start to look incredibly cluttered and outdated. Ethnic styling shouldn’t be an excuse to make a mess of it.

The whole world in your living room

You can unite cultures from all over the world in an ethnic interior. Matryoshka dolls from Russia on the mantelpiece, African masks on the wall, and cushions from the Middle East in the sofa.

Of course, you’ll find all those things in your favourite interior design shop, but it becomes much more fun when you go treasure hunting yourself. Search through an open-air market while on holiday or visit local craftspeople. You can give your interior your own personal touch by decorating with souvenirs that you have got yourself. What’s more, the memories attached to these things add to the holiday vibe that makes an ethnic interior so much fun.

Ethnic lighting

Unfortunately, when travelling, you usually have to take a limited amount of luggage space into account. That beautiful thatched pendant lamp or Asian lantern will often not find its way into your living room. But don’t worry, you’ll also find plenty of lamps with ethnic influences at dmlights. Unfortunately, these won’t come with holiday memories, but you’ll still have a good story.

Tom Dixon Beat Light

The best-known series of ‘ethnic lamps’ is undoubtedly the Beat Light collection by Tom Dixon. The inspiration for these lamps was found in the traditional jars and pots he saw during a visit to the city of Jaipur in India. This is also where the Beat Lights are made. For the production, Dixon collaborated with local craftspeople who beat the brass plates into shape using a mallet (hence the name ‘Beat’ Light).

Tom Dixon Beat

Shop Tom Dixon Beat


Moooi Emperor

This Moooi Emperor keeps us in Asia. Designers Neri & Hu based their design on the bamboo bird cages that emperors used to display their songbirds in the past. Each Moooi Emperor pendant lamp is hand-braided, which makes each one a unique piece.

Moooi Emperor

Shop Moooi Emperor


Ay illuminate

It wouldn’t be fair to choose just one Ay illuminate collection. This Dutch brand brings together influences and materials from all around our planet. Fishing nets from Swaziland, cashmere from Afghanistan, cotton from India, etc. Ay illuminate has set up partnerships for all these raw materials with local organisations to promote fair trade.

Ay illuminate

Shop Ay illuminate


Checklist for an ethnic interior:

  • Graphic prints
  • Striking patterns
  • Warm colours
  • Natural materials
  • Ethnic objects

Do you also have an ethnic interior? Leave us a comment to let us know which accessories and souvenirs you have combined in your home. Don’t forget to tell us the story behind your souvenirs!

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