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Designer Crush: Black Artists + Designers Guild's Malene Barnett

Jan 14, 2020

Malene Barnett is a NYC based multimedia artist who creates sculptures, paintings, textile works, and other art forms to express and explore her African heritage and diasporic identity. During her time as an artist-in-residence at Greenwich House Pottery, she worked on a project where she created pottery inspired by mud house designs found in West Africa. Ms. Barnett is also a renowned mixed-media painter, whose work draws on her love of custom pattern designs and rich textures. These creations tell complex stories that speak to the depth and genius of her work.

What's more, Ms. Barnett is a wonderful rug designer, and creates hand-knotted and hand-tufted carpets under her label “Malene B.” These custom rugs incorporate modern, abstract designs with traditional craftsmanship and weaving techniques to produce one of a kind carpets that resist convention.

Blue, yellow artistic, abstract rug design from Malene Barnett of BADG
Red, watercolor design for custom rug from Malene Barnett

Ms. Barnett's website states how she is “equal parts artist, anthropologist, and activist.” In 2018, Ms. Barnett founded the Black Artists + Designers Guild, a global collective of Black artists and designers, in order to combat the lack of Black representation in the design industry. BADG states in their mission statement:

“BADG is building a more equitable and inclusive creative culture by advancing a community of independent Black artists, makers and designers in creative industries. We are committed to honoring our ancestral legacy in design, by taking ownership of our narrative, and by creating spaces to celebrate Black excellence and culture in design.”

For more information...

Learn more about Malene Barnett and her artistic, anthropological, and activist work here on her website!

Malene Barnett's website

With BADG, Ms. Barnett has brought together a community to provide a resource for Black artists and designers to gain visibility and find new opportunities for their work. We are a proud supporter of the mission of the Black Artists + Designer Guild. Specifically, we believe in the education of our youth and future generations to carry the torch forward. As a result, we have invested in BADG's Education Fund which is "structured to provide scholarships, grants, and residencies for artists and designers at different stages in their careers and to support special pedagogical projects."

But don't just take it from us! If you are interested in learning more about the Black Artists + Designers Guild, we highly recommend you taking a jaunt through their website:

Black Artists and Designers Guild


Currently, BADG is working on a new project– The Obsidian Virtual Concept House. Keeping with the central principles of Barnetts work and of BADG, the Obsidian House showcases, “an enlightened way of being and dwelling... as a virtual experience for Black families.” To learn more about The Obsidian Virtual Concept House, click here: 

Obsidian House

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