Centuries-old Mashirbirya patterns have inspired a contemporary collection of limited edition furniture made on Kenya’s, Lamu Island. Architect, Moran Munyuthe who lives and works in Lamu, designed the collection called The Mashirbirya Collection, which comprises a table and chair. Mashirbirya patterns are seen in Arabic-Bantu architecture, usually part of a wooden lattice screen that is used to shade the interior of buildings and decorate the exterior. Mashirbirya patterns are intricate, the style reflecting the rich cultural heritage of Lamu and how the culture of the Arab traders to Africa’s East coast where assimilated into the local Bantu culture.
Crafted from a local wood called Mvule, each piece of furniture in the collection is hand carved by Swahili carpenters, highly skilled local artisans whose craft is in danger of dying out due to a younger generation unwilling to take it up. The minimalist design of the furniture is intended to frame the patterns and highlight the exceptional craftsmanship, as well as help preserve centuries-old Swahili wood-carving traditions.
The idea for the Mashirbirya Collection was borne out of an architectural project Moran undertook, constructing a house on Lamu Island for his mother, and thinking not just of how the building would look, but also what type of furniture would go in it. So he began looking at ways in which to incorporate building elements into functional objects.
For further information about Moran Munyuthe and the Mashirbirya furniture collection visit: www.munyuthe.com
[Image credits. The images were sourced via Munyuthe / Saba Studios, and are copyright Jemima Bornman. If downloaded and used elsewhere, please credit accordingly.]