Lines to the Past
Indigo Arrows is a small company that looks to the past for inspiration. Destiny Seymour started the company after struggling to find interior design products that reflect her culture as an Indigenous person living in Manitoba. Motivated by her university degrees in interior design and anthropology obtained at the University of Manitoba, she paid a visit to the Manitoba Museum to learn about household items from the past.
While there, Curator of Archaeology Kevin Brownlee introduced Destiny to a collection of Indigenous pottery and bone tool fragments gathered from sites across Manitoba. Holding a 3,000-year-old pottery piece in her hands, she felt a connection to her ancestors, and the delicate patterns on the pottery made her wonder how the visual language could have evolved if still in use today.
Destiny combined a study of ancient objects with 21st-century design to create a line of screen-printed home décor products. Artefacts such as a 400-year-old elk antler tool uncovered near Birtle, Manitoba, inspired a repeating pattern of thoughtfully spaced lines and circles. Images once stamped or carved on to ancient pottery influenced other compositions of lines, angles, and pressed dots. The contemporary patterns are hand-printed on 100 percent linen using eco-friendly inks.
Anishinaabemowin words are used to name the pieces in the inaugural Indio Arrows collection, such as patterns named Bezhig (one), Niish (two), and Niswi (three). The goal is to bring a language and culture that was once threatened by the Canadian residential school system back into the lives of Canadians.
Like the pottery that inspired the creation of Indigo Arrows, the new designs demonstrate respect for local people and the environment. The products are available on the Indigo Arrows website and at select events in Manitoba. The company may be small, but the attention it draws to the emerging field of Indigenous interior design in Canada is significant.
Kelley Beaverford is the Acting Head and an Associate Professor in the Department of Interior Design at the University of Manitoba. She has published numerous articles on studio education and cross-cultural design.