Born in Kitale, Carlos Nathwani was an oilman before he started Quinn Peaks Furniture with his wife Minal. When Carlos moved to Nairobi 16 years ago, he wasn’t keen on continuing to work in this field so when he saw an advert in the newspaper—woodworking machinery for sale—he bought the machinery, rented a godown on Mombasa Road and got to work.
When I asked Carlos whether he had any furniture-making experience he answered in the negative and shrugged off this seemingly rash decision with a laugh, and stated simply: "I am very innovative”. And evidently so, because fast forward to 2016, not only is Quinn Peaks still in business, it is flourishing. The company's showroom in Viking House, Westlands is well worth a visit.
In the intervening years Quinn Peaks has worked on large-scale projects, conceptualising and developing custom furniture for several lodges in the Maasai Mara and Amboseli as well as holiday homes on the Kenyan coast.
For Afrika Handmade 2016, Carlos designed a high table with options for completely wooden high stools or height-adjustable stools with a wooden top and metal base. The rationale for this design, Carlos says, is that his customers increasingly find it more comfortable to sit on high tables. And not just in restaurants, as you would imagine, but also in their own homes. This trend was reinforced by the multiple enquiries Quinn Peaks received about this design during Afrika Handmade 2016.
On Sunday 2 October, 2016 Craft Afrika opened the third installation of the Afrika Handmade Gallery to exhibit work from regional artisans and designers. The two-week event at Alliance Française, Nairobi, presented designs from home décor and textile companies; a prefabricated living pod from Two by Four; and a selection of artwork from the One Off Contemporary Art Gallery. Maridadi.co partnered with photographer Brian Siambi (better known on social media as @urbanskript) to feature a selection of designs from the exhibition.