Inside an artisan’s modern design world

At his workshop, Olivier Mbarushimana carefully displays his beautiful cache of wood work. 

These are mostly lampshades, furniture, lamps, mirrors, as well as sculptures.

 

With a chisel and carving knife, Mbarushimana cuts, moulds and laminates his pieces into finished products. 

 

He scraps all of his artwork from wood—this is the main material for his epic pieces. 

 

Production of every product starts from processing dried timber which is later sawn into different pieces that are then assembled into a particular product.

“We take some dried timber, we then choose the design we want and after that we choose hand tools or the machines we can use. After, we work on the product, we do its finishing in different stages, but this all depends on the products we choose or our client chooses,” he explains.

Along with his team, the artisan works hard to ensure maximisation of the wood’s value and strength and to give the customer a stable product that will last for years.

Inspiration

Venturing into this form of art and design, was more of a revelation that drove him into the broad arc of wood working, and since then he has never looked back.

When he was starting his workshop, Isubyo House of Arts, two years ago, Mbarushimana aimed at integrating art with the knack of modern wood design.

His inspiration, however, comes from his admiration for exquisite wooden products, especially those that are moulded with stunning creativity.

This is why for him, design and style trends play an important part in the choice of his production. 

However, the customer’s choice plays a greater part when it comes to choosing the form of art to make, he says.

”At Isubyo House of Arts we are a team of artistes with a talent of creating anything made out of wood according to a client’s wish. We focus on how our clients prefer their designs and from these products, we get even more inspiration and designs,” the artisan says.

When it comes to pricing, the cost of each product depends on the kind of art work and design that the client chooses, he notes.

With a number of similar ventures in the picture, Mbarushimana says upholding the business doesn’t come easy, however, what makes him stand out is the quality of his products. 

Challenges 

Making a living as a custom crafts maker has come with a number of perks for Mbarushimana, but there have been challenges as well, he says.

He mentions the issue of lack of labour, which he says is hard to find or calls for more training, and that this means added expenses. 

“We are faced with the challenge of lack of labour because in most cases when we hire, we have to first train workers for them to reach a certain standard,” he says. 

He also adds that they do not have enough hand tools and machines, among other materials, and this limits their work and output.

Nonetheless, he is proud of the work he has been able to accomplish. What keeps him going is the determination and passion he has for his work. 

Among his best pieces is the affordable wooden house he constructed. This, he says, was accentuated with unique interior designing that clearly brought up his innovativeness.

Though he is doing all he can to survive in this field, Mbarushimana says, as youth, they need more support and sponsors that will help them financially.

“This will help us reach very far and also reach out to teach other young people who want to join this venture.”

To increase his visibility as an artisan on the market, Mbarushimana does intensive marketing, especially on social media platforms. 

“We make marketing through our social media like our Instagram page called isubyoart250, our website called www.isubyo.com and through WhatsApp. When we stabilise ourselves financially, we will also use other media platforms like television, radio among others,” he says. 

Going by the current pace of accomplishments from his workshop, Mbarushimana believes that his work will indeed reach far and wide.

“Our future plans include serving as many clients here in Rwanda, and most importantly, traversing the international market. We also plan on teaching many youths so that we share our skills with them.”

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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