Self-taught Ivorian designer turns used tyres into furniture
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Old, discarded tyres pile up in the streets of Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, where they often attract malaria-carrying mosquitos. A young, self-taught craftsman decided he could find a better use for these tyres. He now collects them and transforms them into stools, tables and armchairs, which he sells to both private customers and local retailers.
As rubbish regularly piles up in the streets of Abidjan, it’s become a real problem for residents. The accumulation of trash can cause diseases to spread and also worsen the effects of flooding. Amongst all this rubbish is a large number of used tyres, which a 33-year-old artist named Kamagaté has been transforming into carefully crafted, colorful furniture since 2016.
Kamagaté has been promoting his work on Facebook for some time. But in the past week, his work has really taken off on social media. He’s received hundreds of calls and messages on WhatsApp and Viber. But despite all the buzz, he says he hasn’t gotten many orders.
The frame of this mirror was made out of an old tyre.
"I get by with limited means”
I was already concerned with protecting the environment and I saw all of these tyres piling up in the streets of Abidjan. I saw their shape and I thought, you know, you could make something interesting out of that.
That was two years ago. I gathered a bunch of old tyres and bought some tools. Then, I really threw myself into turning the tyres into stools.
I had my first customer after about six months. They ran a car-washing place and bought 12 tables from me. Now, I am starting to be able to make a modest living from this furniture.
This hairdresser ordered several different pieces of furniture from Kazonature. He also bought a Christmas decoration made out of old tyres and old plastic cups.
It’s important to me to keep my prices relatively affordable -- between 20,000 and 85,000 CFA francs [Between 30 and 129 euros]. I use high-quality materials to cover the tyres – hand-carved wood as well as quality foam and textiles, which the customer can choose.
An end table made by Kazonature on display in a garden in Abidjan.
This footstool is made out of an old tyre covered by cloth.
I don’t have enough money to advertise my work, so I count on social media and my 4,500 or so friends on Facebook to spread the word. Thanks to them, I’ve gained a bit of fame as a craftsman of recycled objects. I hope, in the future, I can better develop my business.
If you want to contact Basétégé Kamagaté, then check out the Facebook page for his business, Kazonature