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The story behind Kipekee Studio’s unique furniture designs

Boutique woodworking company Kipekee Studio creates handcrafted furniture with a simple yet sophisticated design

By Shannon Manuel  | January 28, 2022 | Trends

‘Both of us have always had a creative side, and Kipekee studios is a family adventure,’ says Kylie Bornman, who founded the design studio in Ballito in 2017 with her husband Michael (a former teacher and quantity surveyor, respectively). ‘Our workshop is situated on the beautiful east coast of South Africa. Kipekee, meaning “unique” in Swahili, started almost exactly four years ago and is built on our passions, talents and callings.’

Picture: Kipekee Studio co-founder Kylie Bornman. Photo by Stephanie Veldman

’Together, we create original, quality furniture handcrafted with passion, care and love.’ The brand has slowly grown its collection, with clean lines and simple designs a dominant theme throughout. ‘Life and other past and present designs inspire us. We make pieces that we would want to own ourselves and accentuate our customers’ homes,’ says Michael. ‘We have a few different collections and statement pieces that have become real favourites among our customers.’ Kipekee’s general aesthetic has always been functional minimalism, emphasising natural elements and a design language heavily influenced by Scandinavian and Japanese sensibilities.

Picture: Kipekee Studio co-founder Michael Bornman. Photo by Stephanie Veldman

The collections include the chameleon range, developed around the beauty of the chameleon and its unique hands and changing colour, and the Panache and Floc ranges that focus on the materiality of cord, a traditional nordic medium. ‘We are about to launch a few new items: our ‘Luna Moon’ chair, inspired by space, and the ‘Lush’ modular sofa, designed around big families in need of a bold and luxurious statement piece,’ says Kylie.

‘We have always wanted to create functional yet unique pieces of furniture that speak for themselves when standing in a room. We like complex designs that look simple – there is a real beauty and humility in intricate work executed in a minimalist style. That said, we would love to move slowly into creating more functional art, and we think that our last launch on products shows this trend.’ The ‘Luna Moon’ chair is a good indication of the combination of very traditional eastern design and joinery with a sculptural element.

Picture: Kipekee Studio’s Luna Moon occasional chair in walnut and rose pink, R9 920. Photo by Stephanie Veldman

At Kipekee studio, each piece of furniture is handmade using traditional craftsmanship, modern technology and the highest standard of markings and materials. ‘First and foremost, we select timbers that are environmentally friendly and ethically sourced. Forested timbers from North America, parts of Europe and Australia fit this profile best. secondly, we look at structural properties and workability, and, thirdly, aesthetics,’ says Kylie. ‘as such, we have ended up narrowing our offering to American white oak and American walnut.’

Picture: Kipekee Studio Chameleon kitchen stool in white oak and Olive Green, R5 350. Photo by Stephanie Veldman

‘Handmade furniture is a craft – it draws on knowledge gained over centuries of experience. It is the same practice today as it was a century ago,’ says Michael. ‘There is something grounding when your hands are the tool – I am sure any artist or craftsman would agree. We do not aim to make products that trend with the season but rather create something that holds design integrity for many years. This extends to the support we as local designers, makers and suppliers receive, something we believe will create a better, more sustainable future.’

To learn more visit Kipekee Studio and take a look at a few more pieces from their collections in the gallery below.

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