*It’s the weekend … we stand by the punny*
In a sea of brass designs, you can’t miss the handmade creations from Nyumbani design. The Tanzanian-based jewellery brand not only makes a statement with its distinct paradigm, but also the fact that its core material just so happens to be wood. Kerry Glanfield, a fashion production and development specialist from the Cayman Islands, started the label in 2012 and has already branched out into 10 other countries across the globe. (That’s the last pun, we promise). Here’s what you need to know about this brand with distinctively geometrical pieces of wearable art:
How it began…
After graduating with a Fashion and Textiles design degree from the University of the West of England, Bristol in 2005, Glanfield decided to get experience from fashion brands in London. Working with brands across the board that specialized in production and development – from smaller businesses to higher end titles such as London-based German designer Markus Lupfer -, she learnt the valuable skill of high quality commercial design at various price points. But her trip to Tanzania in 2009 gave her a light-bulb moment. Inspired by the culture, shapes, textiles and colours, she decided to relocate to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 2010, to begin working in the retail industry. Choosing to collaborate with local artists and designers, she was able to experiment with material to make wearable art.
Two years later, she was able to launch Nyumbani Design. Kiswahili for ‘home’, Nyumbani represents Glanfield’s past and present. Her new home in Tanzania offers inspiration through architectural shapes and curves in its built-up spaces and natural landscapes. But it also represents influences she brings forward from her past, where she was born and raised in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.
The idea to use wood as her core material came from wooden sculptures that are a common fixture in markets across East Africa. As she stated in an interview with House of Coco, “Over time I noticed that while wooden sculptures were commonplace in Tanzania there was an absence in the market for crafting indigenous woods in a more contemporary fashion.” Detecting that each indigenous tress had its own texture, colours and shapes to offer, she began experimenting with them to derive unique finishes. The choice to use locally sourced wood, like African Blackwood, pod mahogany, and jackfruit was well-received by people in Tanzania and abroad; confirming that she was onto something special with this idea. Now, with each new collection, she endeavours to introduce a new indigenous tree to the Nyumbani Design shelf.
Thus, while the linear shapes create the minimalistic external mien, the pieces derive depth from the different woods utilised. For starters, all the pieces are hand curved by local artisans, ensuring that each piece is unique in its own right. Secondly, they use different section of wood to give slight distinctions in colour. Meaning, two bracelets can be made from the same tree in the same design, but they’d have little quirks to them that make them stand uniquely alone.
Lastly, as her business grew organically, she decided to go back to experimenting with wood. This time, she wanted to discover alternative ways she could work with wood. Be it through structure or embellishments. The result has been collections of pieces that create beauty through the contrast of raw materials. In the end, all the pieces are as bold as the women they are designed for. Women who want to make statements that are powerful and deep without frills or fuss.
At first, you may be a little apprehensive at the thought of wearing wood. After all, aren’t we trying to save the forests? Nyumbani Design isn’t just sophisticated and elegant, it’s responsible as well. For every piece of jewellery that is sold, a seed is planted to restore and support the plantation of indigenous trees for the future. Glanfield has partnered with environmental and conservation organisations, Trees for the Future and Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative. Trees for the Future is a non-governmental organization that has planted trees around the world since 1989. Over the last three years, they have worked together to plant over 5,000 trees globally.
Since Nyumbani Design sources all its indigenous wood locally, it was only natural that they’d team up with a conservation organization based in Tanzania. The Mpingo Conservation & Development Initiative ‘assists communities to generate ethical and sustainable forest-based income by selling responsibility harvested FSC certified timber’.
This Tanzanian-based label isn’t just inspired by the beauty of the Swahili coast. It goes the extra mile to ensure that the indigenous roots are preserved for future generations to come. Additionally, it strong linear lines are a reminder that our resources can be used to uplift and empower people without depleting it. Nyumbani Design is a perfect example for the need to get out of your comfort zones, be observant of our surrounding and garner the courage to push the boundaries with a little experimentation. To see more of their collections, their inspirations and the individual names each piece of jewellery is given, visit any of their pages below.