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Rare + Fibrous

Colorful side tables built from an Amazonian root

by Graham Hiemstra in Design on 26 September 2012

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Using Kufa, an aerial root fiber native to the Amazon rain forest, John-Michael Ekeblad builds furniture by hand using a variety of techniques unique to the region. Ekeblad works with local Amazonian craftsman in Georgetown, Guyana to harvest the nomadic plant, then collaborates with them throughout the design process. His latest project, Rare + Fibrous—which is operated by strategic design consultancy, Daytime NYC—presents a series of accent tables in an array of bright colors inspired by traditional Guyanese interiors.

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Renewable, non-timber Kufa was chosen as a material for its pliability and natural abundance in the region—it grows, climbs and lives in the forests' canopies, hosting off the trees that harbor it. Traditionally used in basketry and furniture-making, the fast-growing fiber is considered an essential element to indigenous communities for being lightweight, strong and durable once dried. During harvesting, the raw Kufa is inspected and selected based on composition, with the best plants going to Ekeblad for his furniture. In turn, the designer takes a playful approach to the design and presentation of his colorful, tropical-vibe side tables.

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The laid-back character of his own wares compliments Ekeblad's positive humanitarian agenda, which finds him spending most of his spare time in the Amazon forest giving design workshops to local Guyanese craftsmen.

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To stay up to date on Ekeblad's ever-expanding projects in Guyana and elsewhere, or to find information on purchasing his pieces, visit Daytime NYC online.

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