September 7, 2008

Swedish Makonde: Ebony & Vinyl Toy Industry Were Together In Perfect Harmony

muunanga_makonde_toys.jpg

In 2006, when most of us were just discovering the indie vinyl toy world, Tanzania-born Swedish designer Peter Thuvander was already tired of it. In a collaboration with the Stockholm-based retailer Beneath, Thuvander and his design collective Muungano decided to "refresh the vinyl toy market" via--what else?-- an edgy collaboration. Muungano worked with woodcarvers of the Makonde tribe, whose made-for-export masks and sculptures helped fund the revolution to drive the Portuguese colonials out of Mozambique in the 1960's.

The resulting Makonde Shetani [the Swedes translate shetani as "little Satans," but looking around the Makondeweb, I think "spirits" is more accurate, also more marketing-friendly] were carved from ebony, and have cute little articulated legs and arms. As far as I can tell, they didn't made it out of the concept stage, or if they did, they didn't make it out of Sweden.

But the concept is pretty awesome, and I'd love to see more little carved wood colabos. And not just Makonde Munny dolls; why not little Makonde-style Star Wars figurines, or even Makonde Elmo? Makonde Lego Minifigs?

Makonde x Muungano, 2006 [peterthuvander.se via mocoloco]

Previously and related, Mar. 2007: Neighborwood, ltd ed. wood figure by Mike Burnett

1 Comment

The one on the left looks like a wooden Marvin the robot from Hitchiker's guide

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