Bheki Dlamini is a self-taught carpenter who is the talent behind the chic and on trend timber furniture, interior walls and ceilings of Cape Town’s newest co-working space, Glee at Work.
The offices are owned and were designed by Glen and Fee Ainsworth in partnership Dlamini. The pay-as-you-go co-working space offers clients a flexible payment plan that works for entrepreneurs, start-ups or freelancers.
Condé Nast House & Garden caught up with Dlamini to discuss his work and the inspiration behind his craft, take a look at the short Q&A below.
What sparked your interest in carpentry?
As a teenager, I worked on a building site where I would watch the carpenters making joinery pieces for retail stores and wished I could do that. So, I approached the owner of the shop fitting company and asked him for a job, I told him I wanted to learn how to use tools and make the timber pieces.
He turned me down, but I came back the next day and asked again. When he realised that I was serious, he gave me a chance. I started with cleaning all the tools. I must have cleaned and tidied up carpentry tools for over 6 weeks, fetching, carrying and cleaning, which taught me respect for the tools.
'Look after your tools and the tools will look after you'
He then gave me a chance to build and construct and I fell in love with wood and never looked back. I think I was so hungry to learn, I wasn't just handed the opportunity, I worked hard for it. My motto is simple. ‘You have to love and respect wood, if you don’t you will never be good’.
As a self-taught carpenter, where do you draw inspiration from for your work and art?
I walk with my eyes open, I see pieces made out of other materials and plan how to make out of wood. Also, magazines, the internet and other projects that I work on.
Have you built furniture pieces for your home before?
Yes, I make many pieces in my home, from TV cabinets to tables, nothing we have has been bought from shops. My girlfriend shows me things she likes in stores and says, ‘Yes I know, you can make it better!’.
What is your favourite carpentry piece that you made for Glee at Work?
I don't have one favourite piece, there are many features that are my favourites. You have to look closely and appreciate that there are many features in Glee that are special, not everyone will appreciate the finer details. Once you start looking for them, they jump out at you.
From the ceiling mix of 10mm and 18mm, and cross grain checker-board pattern Birch plywood, to the totally concealed office door hinges!
The reception counter and slatted wall behind is beautiful, one can do so much with plywood.
I would say that my best piece is the timber diamond feature that is on the meeting room wall, I had specific instructions to make sure that each piece was exactly 2000mm long, so if one ended 1852mm on the wall ceiling junction, then 148mm returned 90 degrees on the ceiling!
In the beginning, I was not too sure, then when it was finished, I saw the joy that it gave Glen and Fee. Actually, going back to your earlier question about inspiration, I think I get my inspiration from the joy and appreciation that I get from clients, I see their joy and this makes me happy and proud.