Bethan Rayner and Naeem Biviji make up the Nairobi-based Studio Propolis – set up by the husband-and-wife team in 2005.
Both Rayner and Biviji hold a Masters in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. Working across disciplines and scales, they combine their formal education as architects with an informal training as furniture designers and makers.
Studio Propolis makes hand-crafted, designed-to-order products in Nairobi. The team has worked on diverse projects involving the design and prototyping of furniture, small buildings and spaces, as well as manufacturing small runs of furniture that make up part of an on-going collection of pieces.
Rayner and Biviji's approach to design relies on their direct involvement in the process of making. Over the years, their workshop has formed the core of their studio practice. The ability continually to test ideas through prototyping and production underpins this methodology. It has given them space to innovate and experiment, building an intimate knowledge of how things are made and how to build locally.
The relationship between available materials and their own craft culture in this environment informs their practice of making and designing, grounding Studio Propolis within the challenging context of Nairobi.