Years ago famous Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek started making furniture by upcycling wood recovered after demolition. In our living room is a small desk made out Brazilian scrap wood. The thing I like most about this type of furniture is that every piece is unique and has it’s own graphic ‘signature’. And of course, the fact that wood is given a second chance. And now I want to show you furniture also made from used wood, but from a totally different source.

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Upcycle design shows African way of life

The furniture is designed by Artlantique. An African project founded by Spanish designer Ramon Llonch. He worked as a design consultant in many countries before he started Artlantique in Yoff, a town part of the city of Dakar, Senegal | Africa.

The raw material used in manufacturing the furniture made by Artantique comes from old fishing boats. The wood used is ‘Samba’, a tree from west Africa, and it hasn’t been treated, it is exactly as it was when used as a boat. Each piece of furniture is unique and individually made.

“The fishermen from the West coast of Africa decorate their boats with gaily coloured geometric designs. Once the fishermen return to the beach after the days fishing, the boats, seen from a distance form an extensive colourful mosaic. Attracted by the beauty of this scene, we asked ourselves if after their long, ocean going life, the wood could be in good enough condition to begin a new life.”

The beauty about this wood and therefore furniture is the graphic and colorful look. The sides of the discarded boats are covered by many layers of paint, faded, and affected by rust from the salt and sea air, giving the wood a rich texture of different tones. Attracted by its beauty and history the designer Ramón Llonch wondered whether after all the sea faring they had undergone, the wood would still be in good enough condition to begin a new life, to be upcycled into furniture. For the Africans, re-using their everyday products is a way of life, not a fashion.

“Our final question was if the wood, having become furniture would still radiate the same energy as when it was a boat. We felt sure it would. So that is how Artlantique was born. As our successive trips searching for old, abandoned boats intensified, ideas started falling into shape, and almost before we knew it, we had become members of a team of craftsmen and local artists, who, right from the start were passionate about the project. Working alongside them has been an intense learning period, and a most gratifying experience. One that only apprentices in the master’s workshop can hope to obtain.”

Photos © Artlantique

A piece of furniture by Artlantique is not only about beauty, but also about the life of the boat itself, that of it’s master and family. “The history of a livelihood: successes and failures.” Artlantique wants to keep this story in the heart of each piece of furniture even after the process is completed. “This is and will continue to be our aim.”

Design by Artlantique


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