A steel-mango wood combination has become something of a signature look for Nairobi-based furniture company Unity Makers. The ‘Core Desk’ is a prime example. This minimalist design has a mango wood top and slot shelf supported by a 2x1 inch steel frame.
Few furniture makers use mango wood because it is quite difficult to work with. One of the main difficulties is that the wood warps. Unity Makers have managed to work around this by ensuring the wood dries completely and by using box-type steel frames to stabilise and secure the wood.
The availability of mango wood is another issue. It is hard to find in Nairobi and while it is common at the Coast, it is not considered a high-grade timber. As a result it is often cut into thin pieces making it impractical for furniture use, Eric Engdahl of Unity Makers explains. Eric travelled to Kilifi and found a supplier that can provide “proper large beams that we can use”.
Photograph courtesy of Unity Makers.