Ousmane Mbaye turns discarded metals into sculptural furniture

Digging through the landfills of Dakar, Ousmane Mbaye sees design materials where others see trash.

Senegalese furniture designer Ousmane Mbaye realised his passion for functional art pieces during a mid-life crisis. After spending 17 years as a repairman in Dakar, Mbaye decided to use discarded metals to create practical furniture. Now he has around 10 employees who scour landfills for design materials.

No matter where you find yourself, creativity and expertise are beyond borders and barriers. Through my work, I have this freedom and this balance.

Mbaye said his first creation was meant to respond to a personal need, but the process from inception to finished product taught him the importance of design. For Dak'Art, the 2016 Biennale of Contemporary Art in Dakar, Mbaye created simple designs in white matte. “On this occasion I realised how every piece has a story and how each piece marked me in one way or another,” he says.

The concept was developed around lines, simple enough to allow the public to view his work in a new light, says Mbaye. Where previous work centred on metal and colour, Mbaye’s sculptural pieces, title Mutations, show a progression into contemporary design.

“Love, sharing, aesthetic and cultural encounters are themes that have also guided me always,” says Mbaye. “For me you can do nothing without it, they are essential in my thoughts.”

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