The Shuka Collection by Claudia Kießling

March 21st, 2012 by retail design blog

The isiZulu word “Shuka” means “to use something for a very long time and all the time”. This word reflects perfectly the requirements I had for this furniture collection, which is inspired by the indigenous people of South Africa: the collection is supposed to be of high quality and timeless design. It contains of four different pieces of furniture. They all have in common being modern, light-coloured, functional, simple and the shape of a triangle is important in their design. Moreover the idea of the Shuka Collection is that the furniture gets produced by local south african artisans and environmentally friendly.

Inkcyo is the isiXhosa word for the beaded aprons Xhosa girls wear, which were my inspiration for this lounge chair. The frame for this lounge chair is made of powdercoated steel, the seating area is woven with white wooden beads. The triangle element takes place in both the frame and the seating area. The frame‘s cross bracings at the bottom adumbrate two triangles, the seating area I livened up with blue and red beads that form a triangle pattern.

Ikghuphu is inspired by the wallpaintings of the Ndebele women. It’s a low but wide console with two doors and two drawers made of native olive wood and powdercoated steel. The console’s front looks like a typical Ndebele wallpainting with a symmetrical triangle pattern. It’s not only a pattern though, four of these triangles stick out the front 3-dimensionally and work as handles for the doors and drawers. I named the console Ikghuphu, which describes the style of the Ndebele wallpaintings in their language.

Ihlahla means in the language of the Zulu people „branch of a tree“, which is the perfect description for this piece of furniture, that is also part of „The Shuka Collection“. Inspired by the simplicity of this archetype of a hanger assembly I designed a coatrack. Contrary to the other pieces of „The Shuka Collection“ I didn‘t abstract, but add some things to it like the bases so the coatrack can be freestanding.

The bases and the V-shaped tops are made of powdercoated steel, the bar and poles are made of native olive wood. A blue rubber band around the V-shaped tops and the bar gives this wardrobe even more stability and prevents the bar from falling down. Another significant feature are the unusual hangers in the shape of a diamond which is a symbol for feminity and in the shape of a X which is a symbol for manhood in the african culture.

Tzila is the name for the metal rings around the legs of Ndebele women, which inspired me to design this coffee table and name it like this. The base of the coffee table is reminiscent of exactly these metal rings although it has the form of a triangular spiral. It is made of powdercoated steel and not only functions as the base of the coffee table but also as a rack for newspapers, magazines, books and more.

The round table top, which is also made of powdercoated steel, has a detachable bowl in the centre, that can be used amongst other things for storage, serving snacks or as a pot plant. To give this coffee table a colourful and african detail I designed a top piece for the bowl which is handpainted with blue and red triangles. This top piece also turns the bowl into a vase. All these features make this coffee table an innovative, exciting and multi-purpose piece of furniture.

Designed by Claudia Kießling

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