A Closer Look at the Decor in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

props on the set of marvel studios' black panther wakanda forever photo by jomo tariku © 2022 marvel
On the Set of Black Panther: Wakanda ForeverMarvel Studios

When Marvel first approached Jomo Tariku about featuring his work in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the Ethiopian-American furniture designer and artist was in disbelief. After sharing the news with his family and watching his teenager enthusiastically explain the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tariku agreed to the one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, excited for his work and designs to be front and center. "I felt a sense of pride being able to represent Ethiopia in this wonderfully made movie—it is so deep and has so many layers," says Tariku.

Set designer Hannah Beachler included five of Tariku's designs in the award-winning film, which expertly fuses the past, present, and future to create a new narrative around the African diaspora. Similarly, with each piece that he creates, the designer desires to tell a story, adding chapters to a legacy of excellence and continuing to honor the past in the present.

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The designs in the film—the Nyala chair and Mukecha stool—were already part of Tariku's portfolio of functional art inspired by his upbringing. The names of the pieces, like Nyala (a mountain antelope from the Bale Mountains of East Africa), allude to his heritage. Tariku hopes his works also educate consumers on their journey to finding his furniture.

"This is to elevate my own culture into everyday utilitarian objects—they're not just collectibles. You can pick them up again to use the same way you would do so with your coffee pot," Tariku explains.

props on the set of marvel studios' black panther wakanda forever photo by jomo tariku © 2022 marvel
The Nyala chair—inspired by mountain antelope from the Bale Mountains of East Africa—and the Mukecha stool as seen in the film. Marvel Studios

"You set goals for yourself as a designer—targets we hope to hit. One of my goals, when I started, was to get attention to my work and that it would end up in a museum while I am alive, not when I am gone," Tariku shares.

To date, Tariku's work has been added to the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Denver Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art, with upcoming exhibitions at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. He is also a winner of the 2022 Black Artist + Designers Guild Maker Award (BADG) and is offering insights into his journey as an Ethiopian-American maker in Season 2 of Netflix’s Made By Design series.

The story for this artist is far from over. "I am leaving my footprint on this timeline and saying that we as Black people are contributing now, and have always been. We are a part of a canon," says Tariku.

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