Revolutionizing Furniture Construction in Informal Settlements
Building Furniture with Locals: A Collaborative Approach
Italian designer Giacomo Moor recently collaborated with the Italian NGO LiveInSlums to create functional furniture for a school in Mathare, one of Nairobi's oldest slums. The project, called " Design for Communities," aimed to involve the local community in the furniture-making process, ensuring they have a say in designing their own spaces.
Moor's approach was guided by simplicity and functionality. He focused on creating pieces that were easy to assemble and made use of wooden components. The resulting modular bunk beds, benches, and tables have a streamlined design, without any decorative elements, emphasizing their utilitarian nature.
Empowering Communities through Design
LiveInSlums Director Silvia Orazi emphasized the importance of actively involving the residents in the development of their environment. The goal of the NGO is to work alongside the community, ensuring change occurs on their own terms. To achieve this, Moor was invited to Kenya's capital to assemble the first prototypes with a group of eight locals.
During the assembly process, Moor provided blueprints and guidance, but the construction of each piece was primarily done by the local participants. Ensuring their ability to build autonomously was key to the project's success. The furniture's modular and interlocking design enabled the participants to construct the items themselves with relatively few basic tools.
Aesthetic Simplicity without Compromising Function
Moor's furniture series showcases clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic. Despite its modest appearance, the furniture has become a source of pride for the students at the Why Not Academy, the school it was designed for. Functionality and form were carefully balanced, with the furniture serving the community's needs while maintaining an appealing design.
Paving the Way for Sustainable Solutions
A Collaborative Effort to Improve Lives
Moor's collaboration with LiveInSlums aims to provide architectural solutions for communities facing challenges such as climate crises, natural disasters, and humanitarian emergencies. By involving local residents in the design and creation process, the project empowers communities to shape their own environment and create sustainable solutions.
Creating Practical Furniture Using Local Resources
To ensure long-term sustainability, Moor researched and selected eucalyptus wood as the main material for the furniture. Each piece was designed for scalability, and damaged or weathered components can easily be replaced. The furniture's design allows for reuse in different settings, enhancing its versatility and reducing waste.
The Beauty of Functional Design
Moor's clever and glue-free interlocking joints, inspired by traditional carpentry techniques, offer structural stability without the need for additional fasteners. The assembly process, akin to building with Lego, requires minimal tools, making it accessible even in resource-limited contexts like Mathare's.
Moreover, Moor's furniture series has found success beyond the Why Not Academy, with customers in Europe purchasing both assembled and disassembled versions. A portion of the profits goes back to the Nairobi school, supporting LiveInSlums' ongoing initiatives.
A Vision for the Future
Building Sustainable Communities, One Project at a Time
Moor's design philosophy revolves around simplification and thoughtful resource utilization. His success in Nairobi has inspired him to explore future collaborations with LiveInSlums, with his focus shifting to redesigning the school kitchen in Mathare. Moor aims to create an interconnected space that prioritizes functionality while adhering to his simplified design principles.
Looking ahead, Moor hopes his furniture series can be implemented in other communities facing similar challenges worldwide. By fostering collaboration and empowering communities, both in the design and construction processes, the possibilities for sustainable and impactful solutions are endless.