Fishing is a traditional way of life and sustenance for many people around the world, including the west coast of Africa. The distinctively colourful wooden fishing boats are a visual mainstay along the coast, each one of a kind and linking human livelihood with the sea. However, after many nautical miles on the water, the boats must be retired. Now, one Spanish design company is contracting local African carpenters to craft unique furniture using wood from these old boats, to help sustain long-held traditions by transforming the old into something new.
Seen from a distance, (the boats) form an extensive colourful mosaic. Attracted by the beauty of this scene, we asked ourselves if after their long, ocean going life, the wood could be in good enough condition to begin a new life... the question was if the wood, after being a sea going vessel, would radiate the same energy and preserve the history of the fishermen.
Due to the differences of build between these light, flat-bottomed boats or "pirogues," each piece of furniture must be custom-made by hand. The result is an adaptation of available materials and the skill of the craftsmen, a "union of fishing and carpentry in Africa," and "100% African" -- in the end, also strengthening local economies and social bonds.
Though the hodge-podge look of the furniture may not appeal to everyone, it's clear that the humble history of cultural traditions is literally weathered into the material -- a definite contrast to the glued veneers of mass-produced, IKEA-inspired furnishings.
For more information and points of sale, check out Artlantique's website.
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