This interview below was completed by Sam, Founder of Unearthed
kanju: Unearthed creates African décor and homeware that is trend-forward and specially crafted. Can you speak more to what you mean by that? How does this ethos influence your design methods?
Unearthed: We are inspired by the vibrancy of African design. We are also influenced by global trends, but we always make sure we have an African flavour in our designs. All of our products are locally made by independent craftsmen across South Africa and neighboring countries. We aim to showcase local talent and creativity. By supporting local, we show that we care about the communities that we live in. This support gives the local economy a chance to thrive.
kanju: What inspired you to start Unearthed and how were you able to make that a reality?
Unearthed: We are a family business - an aunt and niece duo who love being around each other so much, we had to create a business to have an excuse to see each other more. Our skills, personalities and work ethic complement each other and make for a fierce team! Marijke has had 36 years of experience in the design and fashion world. She has a stringent eye for detail and is exceptional at design and seeing the designs through production. Sam is in the manufacturing industry making wooden kids toys and is ardent about homeware and design. Sam has also been in marketing for years.
kanju: What does African design get right that other regions or aesthetics may not? How do you bring these sensibilities into modernity?
Unearthed: Africa is as diverse as it is big and in this diversity is a mixing pot of culture, language and arts. African décor reflects harmony with nature which is reflected in its materials. The convergence of these specialist arts and crafts is where, we believe, the magic happens. An infusion of influences and being informed by the market creates a contemporary design space that showcases African décor as a lot more than just traditional artefacts. African design has a cutting edge that deserves its place within global trends. It adds texture, bold statement pieces, and pattern into modern interior #africanchic.
"African décor reflects harmony with nature which is reflected in its materials."
kanju: How do you collaborate with the artisans to build your decor designs or collections?
Unearthed: All of our products are ethically produced by artisans. They are hand crafted by masters in their craft and made with a lot of love and care, ensuring you get quality, unique and authentic products. Some of our items are designed by the artisans themselves and others we design and perfect together. We have a close relationship with our craftsmen and we work together every step of the way. Our success is their success and we grow together.
kanju: Please tell us a little bit about the materials you use. Why they are chosen?
Unearthed: Our African sculptures are made by sustainably sourced Blue Gum from tree fellers. This tree is an alien vegetation that propagates and threatens indigenous flora, it is also responsible for the loss of 16% of water resources lost to invasive plants every year. Blue gum is a very sustainable wood to be working with.
"They are hand crafted by masters in their craft and made with a lot of love and care, ensuring you get quality, unique and authentic products."
kanju: What unique techniques are used to create your pieces, and how do you choose that?
Unearthed: Our African sculptures are hand sculpted by a team of highly talented craftsman, using very basic tools but executing amazing precision and achieving mastery of their material. Our wood-turned range has been skillfully executed by an expert in his field. The head of the business has been learning the artful skill of wood-turing since he was 10 years old. Due to the growth of his business through this venture together, he has recently brought in his cousin from Joahnnesburg who has also been mastering this craft since his teenage years. You really can't find a more skillful team!
"Blue Gum is an alien vegetation that propagates and threatens indigenous flora, it is also responsible for the loss of 16% of water resources lost to invasive plants every year."
kanju: Are you seeing any trends that are starting to manifest in Unearthed, that we will see in your collections over the course of the next year?
Unearthed: Although we are still so new, we have started to see a definite trend towards being the candle kweens! We are constantly designing, testing and prototyping new designs across the board. We will definitely not be resting on our laurels. We are releasing our new catalogue in March and will continue to upgrade our designs consistently.
Unearthed: I enjoy the team! The rush we get from seeing our designs become a reality. And best of all, the feedback we get from buyers. We love seeing people enjoy our products and feel the love that has been put into making these items.
Shop our full Unearthed Collection here.