Drawing Design Inspiration From Southwest Native American Style

10 Jan

Drawing Design Inspiration From Southwest Native American Style

navajo native american paintingThe house of my parents, where I grew up, has always had all the walls covered with paintings. My parents are obsessed with the culture of our people, the Native American Navajo of the Southwestern United States. My mother’s job is to make frames for paintings, and one of my earliest memories was listening to the sound of the hammer beating on little nails to fix the corners of the frames between them. My mum’s workshop is on the ground floor, while our bedrooms and the kitchen are on the first floor … so for me, this noise has always been the most familiar sound in the world, from early morning to late evening. After high school I started living away from home for University, I moved to many houses and different cities, and every time I went back to my parents’ house it meant to review all the paintings engraved in my memory, all the landscapes, the photographs, colors and characters that over time had covered every inch of the walls of our rooms.

This past autumn I moved to the United States, and I returned to my family’s home in Italy in mid-December to spend Christmas holidays with them. Getting home was almost a shock. I found all the walls completely whitewashed, the paintings that were previously hung on the walls away, not even the nails on the walls. The pictures of my childhood and my drawings that had been taken away from my bedroom, the paintings that over the years had bought my mother hidden somewhere, and in the air only a strong smell of fresh paint. I know there are problems in my parents’ relationship, and perhaps for my father to know that I was so far away meant having permission to enter my room and decide to take away all my memories. Whatever his intentions and motivations were, I do not even want to think about this, and I do not even want to feel anger or resentment towards him. Whatever his intentions and motivations were, he is my father, and he is the only father I have. But all this did not stop me from feeling the pain, and not feeling deeply hurt as if someone had hurt me until reaching the surface of my bones.


If you remove the paintings from the walls of these rooms, you are removing a part of our soul from our home. You are stealing our story, hiding our memories and all the familiar things we have welcomed and loved during our lives. So, without even trying to hang up the nails, we simply supported all the paintings we found on every type of wall, from tables, windows, bookcases, chairs. And it worked to make us feel the warmth of the characters of our travels, our postcards, and the pictures of our childhood again.


For a long time, I ran from the heritage of my family. I had no interest in my Native American roots and I couldn’t understand my parent’s fascination with it, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realize that so much of who we are is made up of where we come from. Who my ancestors were and what they did makes up the fabric of my character just as much as what I choose to wear or devote my time to today. So my parent’s obsession with Southwestern culture was their way of paying homage to the part of themselves made up of those that came before them. And I’ve now realized that that’s a beautiful thing. And now I also look to that same style when drawing inspiration for my own design aesthetic. I look to the clothing, art, fabrics, and area rugs of the Southwestern United States to direct my own design style and personal relationship with art.