Mashirbirya Chair and Sidetable inspired by centuries old Arabic-Bantu architecture

Saba studio founder Moran Munyuthe, collaborated with Swahili carpenters on Lamu Island to design a chair and side table inspired by centuries old mashirbirya patterns as seen in Arabic-Bantu architecture.

Lamu island is an archipelago located on the northern end of Kenya’s coast. It’s position as a trading port saw it develop its own cultural and architectural language known as “Swahili” through interactions with the native Bantu and Arab merchants who travelled to Lamu by sea. As a result, Swahili architecture evolved to incorporate elements of traditional Arabic architecture such as mashirbirya - a wood lattice screen that is used to  shade the interior of buildings and decorate the exterior.

The Mashirbirya chair and Side table re-interprets the mashirbirya pattern from a building element to a domestic object. Made from local Mvule wood by Swahili carpenters, it is a symphony of solid and void, light and shadow, integrating itself into its immediate environment. The minimal, stripped back structure of the chair is intended to frame the handcrafted patterns and highlight the extra-ordinary craftsmanship of the Swahili carpenters.


The Mashirbirya Chair

43cm by 50cm by 90cm (Seat 47 cm high)

The Mashirbirya

Side table 83cm by 58cm by 58cm by 40cm high


Made from Mvule Hardwood

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Photos by Jemima Bornman