Design Junction

Published on 3rd September, 2015 by Otago Design

We are thrilled to announce as part of the London Design Festival, Otago Design will have its own pop up retail stand at the critically acclaimed Design Junction Show from 24-27 September 2015.

As an exclusive to Design Junction, we will be launching limited edition scented candles in hand -blown glass vessels with hammered brass cuffs. The process involved a collaboration between Kenyan glass blowers and metal workers and the renowned British candle-makers Wick & Tallow. These unique and luxurious candles with their African inspired scent of frankincense give the consumer a flavour of the Otago Design experience. There will be a range of decorative glassware made by artisans from marginalised communities in Kenya as well as some horn vessels and brass ornaments.

This year Design Junction will be relocating to two new central London venues, the old site of Central Saint Martins Art & Design School and the striking event space of Victoria House both situated on Southampton Row.

You will find Otago Design at stand V60E alongside 50 other design led pop ups at Victoria House, Southampton Row, London WC1B 4DA. We hope we will see you there....

Bespoke Lighting Commission

Published on 5th June, 2015 by Otago Design

We have just completed a collaboration with The Light Corporation and two workshops based in Nairobi Kenya, CREA AFRICA & Zawadi Africa to produce the feature lighting fixtures for Parliament Street, Harrogate, Nandos restaurant. Nandos is a South African company, a restaurant chain selling portuguese inspired food, they are the biggest buyers of South African art!

The inspiration for the Maradadi Chandelier was the corsets worn by the Dinka tribe in South Sudan.

Among the Dinka, corsets, known as “Manlual” are worn by men as a form of daily attire, which primarily symbolizes a man’s age group as well as his wealth within the community. The tight beaded corsets indicate the men’s position in the age-set system of the tribe. The corsets are first sewn in place at puberty and not removed. Each group wears a color-coded corset: a red and blue corset indicates a man between fifteen and twenty-five years of age; a yellow and blue one marks someone over thirty and ready for marriage. The wealth of a Dinka is measured according to the height of the back of a corset; the higher the projection, the richer the wearer is. The females in the tribe wear the Alual, which isn't a corset and is more like a shawl. But is also worn from an early age and signifies her families wealth. The fuller the bead work, the wealthier the family. The Alual is also decorated in cowries which are believed to promote fertility.

After some initial design development done in the UK, Otago Design headed out to Kenya. The initial process was to work with a metal fundi (Swahili for tradesman) on the side of the Ngong Road, Nairobi, Kenya to make a frame for the corset bones to hang from so the dimensions of the corset and each length of beaded string could be realized and the beaders could start stringing from this point.

Each strand of the corset was meticulously strung by a team of women from the Crea workshop who primarily create beaded jewellery. Although they were familiar and highly skilled in beading, to work on one piece at such a large scale was exciting and challenging.

On the other side of town in a family run workshop three women skillfully beaded thirteen pendants. Focusing on blocks of colour and contemporary pattern. Working closely with Otago Design they spent time resolving design challenges of weight, shape and balance.

Otago Design spent three weeks in Kenya working with the two groups on the design and production process. It was incredibly rewarding to see these women who are so used to working as individual artisans work together as teams and taking ownership of a highly design driven contemporary light fixtures.

Presenting the Maradadi Chandelier and Maradadi Pendants.... if you happen to be in Harrogate make sure you pop into Nandos to check them out... oh and don't forget your peri peri chicken!!

The Maradadi Chandelier suspended above a stairwell.

The Maradadi pendant hang beautifully above the dining area.

Red Magazine June Issue

Published on 1st June, 2015 by Otago Design

We are very pleased to see us in Red Magazine Issue this week.

Heart Home Online Issue

Published on 26th May, 2015 by Otago Design

We are very pleased to see our products featured in Heart Home magazine. As part of a feature for the new online interiors community atmine, which helps design lovers to discover real life interiors from across the globe.

Celebrating Africa

Published on 7th May, 2015 by Otago Design

Anna and I were fortunate enough to attend a fabulous evening at the exclusive South Kensington Club last night hosted by Bex Rox who was showcasing some of her stunning jewellery. Some of Bex's collection is made at the same artisan workshops that make our products in Kenya.

Bex had invited some very special guests to the event, Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith who gave a talk and presentation on their latest work.

For many years Angela and Carol have travelled into deepest Africa spending time with local communities where they have documented through photography intimate tribal rites and rituals. We have had the privilege of an insight into these cultural traditions of often closed communities. Their work is not only aesthetically beautiful but socially informing, they are committed to preserving these African cultural traditions which are vulnerable to the trends of modernity. We were so saddened to discover that 40% of what they had photographed no longer exists in life.

Anna and I since our teens have been inspired and motivated by Angela and Carol which has been the reason for our pursuit of celebrating Africa and its craftspeople. To meet our heroines was a wonder and to be able to share with them our Otago Journey very special.

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