MBOISA: West African patterning meets sculptural furniture design

Dokter and Misses’ Kassena Town Cabinets echo the traditional architecture and striking graphic artwork of the Kassena people.

Kassena Town Cabinets is a distinctive range of sculptural, hand-painted cabinets by Johannesburg-based product design company, Dokter and Misses. Inspired by the patterned homes of the Kassena people in West Africa, the range makes up a “village” of cabinets, featuring four different designs titled, Watchtower, Sleep, Horseman, and Home.

For South African textile designer Sindiso Khumalo, the distinctive, ornamental pieces represent an interesting combination of art, design and function. Khumalo reveals her reason for nominating the furniture collection for Design Indaba’s Most Beautiful Object in South Africa (MBOISA) 2016:

It redefines what is beautiful and what is beautiful in Africa, and what is African design now.

In this video interview, Dokter and Misses founders Adriaan Hugo and Katy Taplin reveal how their combined background in industrial and graphic design contributed in the creation of the Kassena Town Cabinets. Each eclectic piece was intricately crafted with various draws and openings, which reveal themselves unexpectedly, like hidden trap doors or secret passages. 

According to Khumalo, the cabinets’ sculptural beauty and lively patterns give the series its own identity. “Dokter and Misses have created a furniture piece that is almost a personality in its own right,” says Khumalo before adding, “it is almost like a citizen of South Africa.”

The creators believe that the Kassena Town series challenges the standard concept of furniture design because while the cabinets are functional, they have been crafted to be admired as sculptural pieces. Hugo explains that each piece was hand painted in a continuous 360-degree pattern so that the design can be shown off like sculptural artwork and not placed against a wall.

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