Upcycled furniture from West African fishing boats
Artlantique is a Barcelona-based design studio working with local craftsmen in Dakar, Senegal to produce upcycled furniture using wood salvaged from traditional West African fishing boats. Founded by Spanish designer Ramon Llonch, Artlantique’s furniture takes inspiration from the beautifully decorated fishing vessels found all along West Africa’s coastline and the culture of recycling and repurposing everyday objects that abounds in many African societies.
Artlantique’s process starts with sourcing disused “pirogue” canoes (as they are known in Senegal) from the fisherman in Yoff, a coastal district of Dakar. Artlantique’s team of local craftsmen then expertly transform each pirogue into an individual piece of furniture – a table, a sideboard or maybe a chest – with the type of piece depending on each boat’s design and how much of its wood is in salvageable condition. None of the wood used in their furniture is treated.
At the heart of Artlantique’s design philosophy is a deep respect for the individuality of each pirogue – “each design is unique, as no two boats are ever the same.” This is as much true of the boats’ decoration – each one is a vibrant mosaic of geometric patterns, spiritual messages and traditional symbols conceived by its owner – as the story their weathered hulls tell of a life on the sea.
In reviving disused pirogues, Artlantique are doing much more than producing beautiful and unique pieces of furniture. They are also generating new economic opportunities for the craftsmen who get their hands back on the boats at the end of their useful life, reducing waste through an innovative repurposing of materials – something Artlantique recognise as “a way of life, not a fashion” for African societies – and bringing traditional African craft and design to a broader audience.
To see their furniture and to find out more about their work and vision, including where you can buy their pieces, visit www.artlantique.com.
All photos courtesy Artlantique.