South African Exam Project by Tor Palm and Mattias Rask

July 26, 2010

Design students Tor Palm and Mattias Rask have sent us the results of their exam project they completed as part of the Carl Malmsten furniture studies program in Stockholm, Sweden.

Full description after the photos….


South African Exam Project by Tor Palm and Mattias Rask

Before starting our exam project, we had long discussions about what we felt was important to us and about the ways we want to work. Since we are both very fond of handicraft and do a lot of woodwork ourselves, it felt natural to make handicraft the point of departure for our project. Our discussions revealed that we are more or less fed up with tha tpart of today’s designworld which is all about conceptualizing and creating products for a consumer society without involvement at a deeper level. In order to justify ourselves as designers we felt a need for our work to mean more than just that.

This led us on to the idea of co-operating with craftsmen in poorer parts of the world, thus highlighting their handicraft and their cultural tradition and perhaps, in the long run, contribute to creating more work for the local craftsmen. When design and craftsmanship meet, we hope to create more attractive products for which you can charge more reasonable prices so that the local craftsmen get a fairer share than what is often the case.

We established contact with Furntech – South Africa’s Centre of Excellence for the furniture industry – where they accepted working with us in our exam project. At Furntech they focus on skills development in furniture manufacturing to improve quality in South African wood and furniture industry. The offer accredited training programmes as well as support/incubation for small and micro enterprises.

Before going to South Africa, we studied their wealth of handicraft and even established contact to a ceramics studio called Potters Workshop, whose work we found highly inspiring. We also found different metal workers who wanted to work with us in our project.

When we finally came to Cape Town at the beginning of May, we experienced four very intensive weeks working together with the people that we had establised contact to. The final outcome was a number of prototypes: a stool and a sideboard, both knock-down, and a number of hand-decorated ceramic lamps.

All along we had the European market in mind, but to show an explicit sender, we wanted the products to carry a clear South African feeling. Therefore we combined materials and worked with colours in the details in ways similar to those of the South African craftsmen.

Turned seat with milled grooves underneath for easy mounting of the metal legs. No need for screws and fittings.

Painted drawer with massive wooden front. Milled groves underneath for easy mounting of the steel base, which makes the sideboard stable.

Floor Lamp
Adjustable hand-decorated ceramic shade with massive wooden rear. Turned post and foot with milled groove for “cordstitching”.

Ceiling Lamp
Hand-decorated ceramic shade with colourful, turned pearls fitted on the cord.


Visit the PalmRask website – here.