Southern African wood and galvanised metal combine in furniture by Mabeo

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Mabeo furniture at Milan design week

Southern African wood and galvanised metal combine in furniture by Mabeo

Botswanan brand Mabeo has launched three new collections of furniture made using wood and waste metal from the local construction industry.

The brand, which works with southern African craftspeople and materials, recruited three international designers for the new collections. Garth Roberts from Canada, Inès Bressand from France and Francesco Faccin from Italy each worked on products that would showcase local woods and galvanised metal.

Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Inès Bressand's Zezuru cabinet is fronted by a single bent sheet of metal

The resulting designs range from a towering cabinet fronted with a single bent sheet of metal to more delicate "pot plant platforms" rimmed with textured aluminium. All are manufactured in Botswana by local craftspeople, using waste metal sourced from the construction industry.

"We always try and do something special that will allow us to express the craft in a way that is really clever, contemporary and fresh," founder Peter Mabeo told Dezeen about the brand's designer collaborations. "The new material for this year is galvanised metal, which is the result of a collaboration we have with craftspeople in Botswana who work with waste material from the construction industry."

Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Each item in Zezaru contrasts smooth wood with a component made from galvanised metal

"It's not so much that we're seeking to say 'oh we're working with recycled material' so much as it's a skill that's there; people are making these things. So it's using what we have."

The collections were shown at this year's Milan design week in April. Mabeo had a shopfront at Tom Dixon's Multiplex installation, where the British designer launched his IKEA collaboration and new products, as well as showcasing the works of several handpicked international studios.

Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Garth Roberts' Seri tables are textured around the edges of their tops and legs

Mabeo showed past work alongside the three new metal and wood series at Multiplex. Bressand's take on the materials forms a collection called Zezuru, named after the ethnic group whose metalwork is featured.

The cabinet, chair and coffee table in this collection each contrast smooth wood with a component made from galvanised metal, rougher in appearance and bearing visible hammer marks.

Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Francesco Faccin's Masalela tables are topped with textured aluminium treadplate

Faccin's Masalela pieces, meanwhile, have a more lightweight appearance. The Masalela – a word meaning "leftovers" in one of the local languages – are side tables apparently intended as "pot plant platforms".

They are made entirely from metal – a base formed from smooth and brightly painted galvanised metal, and a top that uses a more industrial-looking textured aluminium treadplate.

Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
The Masalela are intended to serve as "pot plant platforms"

The final of the three new collections, Roberts' Seri, is an extension of a previous accessories series and focuses entirely on wood. It features a round dining table and side table, textured around the edges of their tops and legs.

Mabeo was founded in 1996 with the goal of producing locally in Botswana and southern Africa. Its first international designer collaboration was with Canadian Patty Johnson, who produced the Tswana folding chair and ThuThu stool for the brand in 2008.

"A lot of times the expectation is that we will focus more on the social aspect than the commercial aspect of design," said Peter Mabeo. "What we're trying to do is do something complete, that can show another way of developing commerce in Africa, that is not mutually exclusive with craft development."

The brand has previously worked with architects Claesson Koivisto Rune to provide furniture for their Nobis hotel project in Stockholm in 2010. In past years it has exhibited work during Milan design week at the gallery Rossana Orlandi.

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Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Mabeo furniture at Milan design week
Mabeo furniture at Milan design week