THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH of the Dondo Collection (profiled in Structure and Design issue 22) was held on 15th May at Queen of Hearts in Highlands. It was a unique opportunity for architects, designers and decorators, furniture traders and members of the public to be introduced to this new range and to meet with Nigel Joscelyne and Elliot Stone Beattie who collaborated to create this sophisticated selection of exclusive furniture.
The Dondo Collection consists of an ergonomically designed reading chair that’s the ultimate in comfort, and the stylish, almost understated, coffee table with a circular glass top. The chair and coffee table can be used separately but can be employed together well in a coordinated scheme. The clean simple lines of the pieces mean that they’ll work with a variety of different décor schemes from modern minimalist to safari lodge chic. Both the chair and the table are available in dark brown mukwa or in the beautiful light coloured jacaranda option.
The jacaranda timber is mostly sourced locally within Harare while the mukwa is sourced from the Forestry Commission’s Rural District Councils. There are options for the upholstery fabric for the chairs design events ISSUE 24 WINTER 85 although customers can provide their own fabric if they choose. Elliot Stone Beattie is an accomplished industrial designer who spent almost a year in the research and design phase to create the collection. He wanted to develop a product that has a distinctly Zimbabwean aesthetic yet could be reproduced in quantity without too much difficulty.
As the product was aimed at the export market it also needed to be lightweight, easy to take apart and pack, and easy to re-assemble. Production also needed to be financially viable and the materials and production processes kept to a minimum to control production costs. The other partner in the collaboration is Nigel Joscelyn. Originally trained in the UK as a joiner he now has a large, well equipped factory in Msasa with around 30 employees, creating exclusive bespoke furniture. Most of Joscelyne’s highly skilled workers have no formal training and have learnt their craft on the job.
The Dondo Collection is somewhat of a departure for Joscelyn who, up till now, has focused more on custom-made one off pieces to meet customers’ specific needs. Joscelyne’ focus has always been on creating top quality furniture using the more traditional methods like mortise and tenon joints, dovetail joints and dowels. Every piece is hand-sanded to a perfect finish. Although Joscelyne has made some products for export he has tended to concentrate more on the local market. Although not currently available in retail outlets you can see the Dondo Collection at Nigel Joscelyne’s showroom situated at 116 Citroen Road in Msasa. The Dondo Collection is available to order with delivery time being 4-6 weeks.
text: Michael Nott |
photos: Michele Fortmann