Taking a deep breath back in Cape Town, South Africa, after spending time with artisan partners in Zambia and Malawi, I am reminded, as I often am, about what Kanju Interiors IS. Yes, Kanju is a brand. Kanju is chandeliers and art and vases and cushions and beautiful things. Kanju is also a never ending series of logistical somersaults… it is ferry trips and small planes and rickety 4×4 vehicles. Kanju is remote and exotic, but also very close. It is the rusty-brown mud of southern Africa, hand rolled and baked in the sun to form strings of beautiful beads. It is the old disused milk bottle, wine bottle, window pane that finds new life and purpose as part of a rain chain, chandelier, decorative screen or wall installation. It is the petrified driftwood that transforms to a face, a fish or a new abstract emotional form. It is the copper languishing within an old water geyser, stripped, polished and brought into the light as part of a cushion or lighting structure. It is the street art that lines towns and villages across the African continent, finding new spirit through the lens of a gifted photographer of the paintbrush of young person with a fresh new eye. It is the skin of the life-giving baobab tree under your toes, woven into a deliciously textured rug. Kanju is old bike cogs and machine parts, it is snare wire reclaimed from poacher’s traps in national parks, it is paint mixed in fresh new ways in small, far away villages. It is beads and brass and cotton and wool and old boat wood and new ideas.
Most of all, Kanju is the artists across Africa who see these items, images, and histories strewn about them and see new stories and fresh starts… the artisans who take these bits and pieces, soak in the sun and rain and landscapes around them, think bigger and brighter, and transform these elements into the glistening, modern, emotional artworks that they then share with us. Kanju is their smiles, their pride and their brilliance. Kanju is a constantly evolving story woven together by each piece of material and each artist’s unique eye. Our proud mission is to be able to share these stories with you, piece by piece, artwork by artwork. The next time you see one of our works, we hope you will see the smile of the artist, the old bottle that the glass came from, the geyser rusting in the landfill before it was rediscovered, the hands carefully reshaping the elements, rolling the beads, twisting the wire just so. This is what Kanju is made of.