Tswana by Patty Johnson



Canadian designer Patty Johnson has designed Tswana, a folding chair shown last week at the Cïbone store in Tokyo as part of Design Tide Tokyo.


The chair is based upon those traditionally used by village elders in Botswana and was designed for Botswanan manufacturer Mabeo Furniture.


The following is from Mabeo Furniture:


Mabeo Furniture is a Botswana-based company committed to the production of high quality contemporary furniture.


Mabeo seeks to show that a group of local people from Botswana, Africa can, through their own skills, efforts and meaningful collaborations, create opportunities for themselves and for their communities, become meaningful participants in the global economy,and determine their own destiny.


Tswana (Setswana), is the National language of Botswana and a name that reflects the importance of the original antique chair the design is based upon as something the village elders have used during traditional court sessions, or to sit and chat with friends and neighbours. Above: Traditional Botswanan folding chair.

Patty Johnson, inspired by this commonly seen style of chair, has made a new version for Mabeo Furniture.

Patty Johnson

Patty Johnson is a Canadian designer who has been cited for synthesizing craft and mass production in her work.

Her consultancy work represents diverse international interests and includes clients such as Totem Gallery, Keilhauer, Speke Klein, Nienkamper, Sephora, the Inter-American International Development Bank, and the United States Agency for International Development.

Tswana chair

Material: White Oak

Posted on Saturday November 8th 2008 at 12:52 am by Rob Ong. Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Gabs

    Now that looks comfortable… NOT!

  • I like that chair since im using it here in Botswana,i can tell u feel like a king on it.

  • luv that chair

  • Xander

    I was raised in Botswana; I know this as a “kgotla” or chief’s chair. “Gab’s” highly structured and subtley wielded sarcasm couldn’t be further from the truth; these chairs are not only comfy, (based on aeons of instinctive ergonomics) but have evolved to use as little resources as possible, and be as portable as possible. Comfort is not a valid requirement for living in environments where food, water, and shelter are scarce at best and inaccessible at worst.

    My parents own a slightly more upmarket version, a little more reclined, and with more leather strands to the seat. It is probably my age, and despite having been transported to a colder, damper, darker climate, it shows no signs of breaking yet.

    I was going to flame this post with a high-horse rant about how Canadian Designer Patty Jonhson would better be described as a Canadian Plagiarist, seeing as her design differs little, if at all, from the traditional design. However, as the company supports local, sustainable processes, I’ll curb my tongue. Suffice to say that I’d rather buy the traditional chair than the contemporary “re-design”.

  • Mrs V

    This is what a true motswana would identify herself with. This chair is a symbol of our culture and pure Motswana pride. It is a symbol of respect if given to an elder as a gift. It has been charished for so many and non would beat its comfort while at the cattle post under a tree