Mass. Made, a furniture design studio at Mass Design Group has come up with made in Rwanda furniture products that show how the right marriage of traditional technics can offer beauty, comfort while also benefiting people and their planet.
MASS (Model of Architecture Serving Society) is Rwandan architectural company which believes that architecture has a critical role to play in supporting communities to confront history, shape new narratives, collectively heal and project new possibilities for the future.
In this same perspective, on July 15, the company launched a two week exhibition of made in Rwanda furniture which shows how the effort of furniture manufacturers, craft people and artisans altogether can add value to Rwanda’s row material, including those that are neglected.
Basically, the wood, the fiber, the clay at Mass.Made, and the metal to some extent were designed and combined or used independently to showcase the importance of local materials in creating what the humanity needs at home and in public places. This does not go without giving value to the maker.
According to Christian Benimana, Senior Principal and Managing Director at MASS, the furniture products are enshrined in their ideology which seeks to change lives in every opportunity they are offered.
“In whatever opportunity we were offered, we wondered how we could positively change lives,” he said adding that this leads them to local communities who use local resources for local challenges.
“We always ask ourselves how we can value our resources,” he said mentioning the case of Rwanda Institute of Conservation Agriculture(RICA) from Bugesera district which they designed in 2018.
The university shows a true picture of how locally made resources can contribute to sustainable furniture and housing industry.
From RICA to Ellen Denegeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund and other projects, MASS created a network of 85+ furniture manufacturers, craft cooperatives, and artisans across Rwanda.
They implement the design proposals from Mass.Made studio.
“In 2018, we started with research to see what the Rwandan community has to offer,” said Christelle Muhimpundu, Senior Designer at Mass.Made.
“We brought every workmanship and we had a group of eighty people to harness entrepreneurship, the furniture community.”
The Mass.Made partners include Souzanne Murekatete of Iriza Ntako Heritage, a craftswoman who started this organisation now supporting single mothers and other marginalized groups of women who are numbered to more than one hundred today.
“With Mass, we came out of our comfort zone. We used to think that we were just able to achieve baskets for hanging and carrying food, but we are now achieving amazing things,” said Murekatete.
With Iriza Ntako Heritage, you understand that dried banana leaves are just a cooking fuel until you meet the right craft person.
At Iriza, dried banana fibres and sisal fibres come together to make the backrest of a made in Rwanda chair, now in Kayonza Lounge.
The Minister of State in charge of ICT and TVET at Ministry of Education Claudette Irere pledged partnership with Mass to advance this creativity that defies the odds of technical schools.