What is Barkcloth?

Barkcloth is a versatile textile made from the inner bark of certain trees.


Barkcloth, a fabric steeped in history, is precisely what its name suggests: a textile derived from the inner bark of specific types of trees, most notably the Mutuba tree (Ficus natalensis) found in Uganda and other tropical countries. The process of making barkcloth involves harvesting the bark, soaking it, and then beating it with mallets until it becomes soft and fabric-like. This traditional craft dates back centuries and is recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

The texture of barkcloth is unique and unmistakably earthy. Its surface can range from smooth to rough, with variations in texture adding to its natural charm. Although traditionally used for clothing and ceremonial purposes in various cultures, in the realm of interior design, barkcloth has found a new lease on life. Designers value it for its organic texture, durability, and sustainable credentials, making it an excellent choice for textiles and upholstery, wall treatments and finishes, and home accessories.

In contemporary settings, barkcloth is often used to add a touch of organic sophistication to interiors. Its versatility allows it to be dyed in various colors or printed with designs, making it adaptable to a wide range of decorating principles and elements. Whether featured in furniture types as upholstery or used in decorative objects, barkcloth brings a distinct tactile and visual interest to any space, blending beautifully with both modern and traditional decor.


In modern interior design, barkcloth can be seen as upholstery on furniture types|furniture, including sofas and chairs, lending a unique, tactile quality to the piece. It's also commonly used in home accessories such as cushions, lampshades, and wall art, where its organic texture and aesthetic appeal add depth and warmth to a room. Additionally, designers may choose barkcloth for window treatments and wall treatments and finishes, creating a focal point that celebrates the beauty of natural materials.


  • How is barkcloth made?

    Barkcloth is made by harvesting the inner bark of certain trees, soaking it in water, and then beating it with mallets until it reaches a soft, fabric-like texture.

  • Is barkcloth sustainable?

    Yes, barkcloth is considered a sustainable textile. It is a natural, renewable resource, and its traditional harvesting and production processes have a low environmental impact.

  • Can barkcloth be dyed or printed?

    Absolutely, barkcloth can be dyed in various colors or printed with designs, making it a versatile material for interior design projects.

Practical Application

When incorporating barkcloth into your interior design projects, consider its unique texture and natural variations as part of its appeal. Use it to add warmth and organic sophistication to a space. It can be particularly striking when used in large pieces, such as curtains or as a feature wall covering, where its texture can be fully appreciated. Combining barkcloth with other natural materials like wood, stone, or leather can enhance its earthy aesthetic, while contrasting it with metal or glass elements can create an interesting interplay of textures.