Cathy and Stephanie are a great mother-daughter duo at the helm of Mokuna Home, a handcrafted home furnishings collection imported by them from Malawi, a country in Southeast Africa sandwiched between Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique.
Each Mokuna Home piece is a true work of art. Interview in a garden.
How was the Mokuna Home brand born?
C: I’ve always been a lover of decorating. For several years I have been the head of a company that imports exotic woods for decking. I travel a lot, especially in Africa. During one of these trips, I spotted these Malawi chairs, and it was a real coup de coeur. That’s how my daughter Stephanie and I came up with the idea of importing them to France.
S: During the first containment, we said to ourselves that it would be nice to bring this furniture, so we launched our first order, which as you can imagine, took some time to arrive in France.
Why this choice of Malawi craftsmanship ?
C: As I said, I am passionate about decoration. I lived for 15 years in Belgium, on the Flemish side, where the reputation in terms of decoration is well known. Indeed, Flemish Belgium has seen the birth and survival of many emblematic decoration brands. At home, I like to mix different inspirations from here and elsewhere. Natural materials are a very strong trend in recent years. Malawian craftsmanship uses rattan cane, eucalyptus and bamboo. It allows a whole population not only to transmit an authentic and precious know-how but also to maintain in a sustainable way a whole economy.
In each village, the Malawi create chairs, the fruit of the work of one person for 8 days. No chair is exactly the same as another, it is the result of a know-how transmitted by the parents, from generation to generation. Different steps are necessary to make them, from the collection of the cane to the caning through the cooking and removal of the first skin, the cane is then put to dry in the sun and finally comes the last step, the caning. Then the first part of the expedition is done… by bicycle, up to 9 chairs can be strapped and stacked on a bicycle!
So, what kind of furniture can you find on the Mokuna Home website?
S: We find these famous Malawi chairs, in natural, white or black. But also benches, sofas, swings one or two places and suspensions, all solid and durable and made in an artisanal way in these villages of Malawi. This furniture is treated, it matches very well with more contemporary pieces, inside or outside.
C: It is possible to discover all our furniture made in Malawi, by making an appointment to come and see our entire line in Jacou (South of France).
Photo credit @stefanpinto.