The Tribal Trend With James Treble

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Traditional craftsmanship meets modern hues in the Tribal Trend, styled by our favourite design-guru James Treble.

It’s time to cast off the winter blues and welcome spring. We’re a little early? We like to be prepared. And we’re impatient. (So. Much. Rain.) Pairing high voltage colour with handcrafted accents, JT’s Tribal Trend is irresistible.

“The Tribal Trend exploits the playful fun of traditional prints,” James says. “It’s an explosion of pattern and colour set against an earthy, neutral backdrop.” It’s fresh and simple and vibrant – and perfectly pitched for spring.


James Treble in action – isn’t he a happy chap? His interpretation of the Tribal Trend adds vibrancy to your living space.


Before you get pattern-happy in your home, have a look at your basics. Set the stage for the drama – or establish the canvas for your colour (if you will) – with a neutral base.

The classic style and understated hue of the Zanui Anders Desert Sofa heightens the effect of the feature cushions. Organic tones are utilised throughout the room.

“The earthy colour of the timber-topped table picks up the deep neutral tones in the rattan occasional chair, the baskets and the straight timber legs of the Zanui lounge.”

From left: the Zanui Anders Desert Sofa brought to life with the Hardwick & Cesko Cut Out Cushion, the Bambury Mongolian Lambswool Cushion in seafoam and One Duck Two Twist Circle Cushion.


Ikats. Indigenous spirals. Animal hides. Ancestral fish-bones. Totemic art. And striking modern designs. The pattern infatuation is everywhere. In the Tribal Trend, JT fuses contemporary and traditional cultural motifs. The result is intoxicating.

Opt for patterns that speak to you – pick several strong designs that contrast and cross-reference one another. In our tribal living room, JT exploits diverse textures and styles to great effect.

“The interesting thing is that even though the hide rug is a striking feature and the cushions are loud, they don’t compete because the pattern is in colour and the animal print is black and white.”

Create a cosy space with floor cushions and an on-trend animal hide. From left: One Duck Two Agra Cushion, LS Collection Zulu Mimosa & Deep Sea Cushion and the NSW Leather Co Snow Tiger Printed Animal Hide Rug, available online at Zanui


Colour is one way to create a cohesive look. JT is not afraid of bouncing a bit of punchy colour around, but his palette is balanced by its repetition of base colours.

“The teal that plays through the cushions provides a foundation for the colour scheme. The yellow in the Lucco Lantern is another strong accent colour. It picks up the buttery swirl in the top basket and bounces with the lemons on the coffee table, drawing your eye back into the space.”


Don’t under-estimate the importance of open space.

“A room is like a good painting – you need some blank space…. Here the Zanui lounge provides a neutral base for all the pattern and its legs lift it off the ground. This stops the look from becoming overwhelming.”

The clean lines of the lounge, the occasional chair and the coffee table prevent the room from becoming too heavy. “This gives the room a fresh feel. And allows the rug and cushions to be the stars.”

The balance between pattern and plain is key to finessing this look. Left: One Duck Two Twist Geo Cushion and featured on the wall the Casa Uno Full Ornate Frame Wall Mirror. Right: Tango Liso Rattan Occasional Chair with DG37 Geometric Knit Throw and NF Living Lucco Lantern in yellow.


The Tribal Trend celebrates the intricacy of traditional craftsmanship. “The mirror is hand-carved, the baskets are hand-woven… they introduce organic textured appeal into the space.”

This artisanal detail adds depth and character to your interiors: the coarser textures of the hide rug contrast the carved wood of the candle holder and the appliqued design of the cushions. The braiding in the baskets is referenced in the silhouette of the lantern.

“It’s a ceramic version of the woven product which is why it works even though it’s culturally different.”


There’s a play on linear within this space – the strong vertical lines of the lamp tripod and the coffee table contrast and collude with the more fluid lines of the hide, the rattan armchair and the caged lampshade. The play of light itself is curved adding visual interest to the room.


Entertain in organic style with the Casa Uno Bamboo Round Tray with Handles.


Finally make the space your own with selection of decor accents. Here the horse sculpture and the Tribal Aqua Canvas Print‘s muted modern interpretation of “tribal” add subtle nuances to the room that support the overall scheme.

Kay is a feature, blog and copywriter. She collects empty jam jars, academic degrees and tawdry dreams in the hopes of turning them into something useful someday. Her work has been published in ACP magazines, ABC fiction, Overland, Brittle Star, Seizure, trade publications and online forums. Her creative writing has won several awards.