Bolé Road Takes Us on a Vivid Textile Journey Through Ethiopia

Brooklyn-based interior designer Hana Getachew brings the vitality of her native home to her ethically-sourced artisan textile brand.

Getachew stands with her new Konso collection in her Brooklyn studio. 
Getachew stands with her new Konso collection in her Brooklyn studio. 

“I’ve been on two life-altering journeys down Bolé Road,” says Hana Getachew, founder of the Brooklyn-designed, Ethiopian-made textile company that shares the street’s name. “One was the day I left Ethiopia when I was three years old, and the other was my first visit back twenty years later.” It was the latter that decidedly rooted Getachew’s already seeded passion for the rich, traditional textile culture of her birthplace, and eventually gave muse for her aforementioned textile venture, Bolé Road.

Getachew, a self-professed textile-obsessed interior designer, spent eleven years in the trade before starting her home décor brand, which is now almost a year old. Bolé Road’s singular mission is to bring ancient weaving traditions, passed down by the craft’s masters, to a modern-day conscientious consumer. All designed in her Brooklyn studio, Getachew’s range of small-batch soft goods—think embellished pillows, dreamy throws and billowy curtains—is at once whimsical and understated, featuring bold stripes, kaleidoscopic patterns, and time-tested motifs. The designer let us into her Crown Heights studio to take a peek at her newest collection, Konso—launching this May at BKLYN Designs—and talk all things textiles.   

Konso, Bolé Road’s most vibrant collection, is inspired by the pulsating hues in Southern Ethiopia. An authentic Ethiopian basket stands nearby.
Konso, Bolé Road’s most vibrant collection, is inspired by the pulsating hues in Southern Ethiopia. An authentic Ethiopian basket stands nearby.

Where did your passion for textiles come from?

I’ve always gravitated towards bold colors and vibrant patterns. I believe everyone is influenced by their surroundings in childhood—the imagery they see growing up. For me, textiles are definitely a part of that. I remember searching through my mom’s closet and seeing all these beautiful patterns and vibrating colors. I still call on those for inspiration today.

You worked at STUDIOS Architecture for nearly 11 years. What about that training prepared you for a textile launch?

I am a full soup-to-nuts interior designer. At STUDIOS, I was able to work on a broad scale of projects, ranging from small studies for cafés and boutique hotels, to site searches for major Fortune 500 companies. I was involved in all aspects of design down to picking the finishes, which was my favorite part, and became my signature—the dessert of the design process, if you will. I wanted to create something that was unique to me, but had a direct impact on other people’s lives.

Tell us about your work with traditional artisans in Ethiopia.

I begin by creating detailed design sheets with specific dimensions and color assignments in my Brooklyn studio, and then send these designs to a particular weaving collective. By the time I arrive in Ethiopia, the artisans have already crafted the first sample. Typically, they create their own interpretation of my designs, which I love. I’m continuously surprised by their approach, and the result is often better than I imagined.

A striped curtain, from Bolé Road’s newest color-laden category, mingles with the brand’s signature Sunflower Throw. On the right, an inspiration board. “I always pin up the original textile that inspired my collection,” says Getachew of the bold ribbon that served as Konso’s inspiration. “I keep it in view to remember where I started.”
A striped curtain, from Bolé Road’s newest color-laden category, mingles with the brand’s signature Sunflower Throw. On the right, an inspiration board. “I always pin up the original textile that inspired my collection,” says Getachew of the bold ribbon that served as Konso’s inspiration. “I keep it in view to remember where I started.”

Your Konso collection is full of energetic, saturated hues. Tell us about the impact of color in your creations?

The way I set up my line is to have two steady base collections bearing neutral, warm tones: the Heritage Collection and Modern Classics. But as an interior designer, I love layering on crazy amounts of bold color. My newest collection is inspired by southern Ethiopia, namely the area of Konso, and the vibrant hues I discovered there—you just can’t help but stare and grab hold of these materials. Konso is an ode to the breezy silhouettes and flowing fabrics worn by the women there.

Where do you find inspiration?

I love being able to tell a story with my collections—to share traditions of the people in Ethiopia, journeys one can take, and the lively culture present there. This is such a key part of what makes my collections meaningful and exciting. That’s why I come back to Ethiopia, to be reinvigorated by the area’s abundant inspiration.

Getachew at work in Bolé Road’s Brooklyn studio.
Getachew at work in Bolé Road’s Brooklyn studio.

 

I'm the Editor in Chief of Livingly Media (Zimbio, Lonny, StyleBistro, and Livingly). My TV boyfriend is Pacey Witter. You can reach me at jill@livingly.com. Follow me: Twitter | Google
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