Kuni: Handcrafted Natural Perfection

Kuni‘s sustainable sourced raw materials are made with master craftsmanship and passion – honouring the natural elements of each individual piece. As the countdown to the Sanlam Handmade Contemporary Fair begins, we asked the team to give us a little bit information about their craft.

What we do: We are creators of unique, handcrafted wooden furniture to natural perfection

Why we do it: For Kuni, Craftsmanship is an exchange, a love relationship between the maker and the wood. The joy comes from the process of using your hands, applying your mind and honouring nature, intimately shaping the wooden slab for one single ideal use. It is a language of patience, perfection and determination, of visualising the potential in the grain and lovingly moulding it to result in a masterpiece.

Our story: Founder Gys’s passion for wood and wood-crafting began as a young boy. His tenacity and entrepreneurial spirit motivated his father to present him with his first combination woodwork machine on his 14th birthday. This was the start of Gys’s life-long relationship with wood-crafting. He started hand-making wooden pencil boxes and sold them to his school friends. His range soon expanded to include lamps, bookshelves and little side-tables. Today, Gys has his dream workshop where he is able to focus on his true passion, working with his hands – and with wood! Part of the legacy Gys wants to leave behind is to share his knowledge, passion and love for wood. Darren Myburgh, a qualified industrial designer, has joined Gys in Kuni as apprentice woodcrafter, and together they patiently design and create masterpieces. Read more about our story on our website

What handmade and ‘a return to making’ means to Kuni? Each perfectly crafted furniture piece is as functional as it is beautiful. It is not about the extent or number of items produced, but about the passion and pride of producing a single, unique, handcrafted work of art, a natural object of lasting beauty. Each piece is uniquely created, lovingly crafted and distinctive. Kuni offers a rare opportunity to possess an exclusive furniture creation that is one of a kind. If woodwork brings to mind awkward, clumsy tables and yellow or orange varnish, we are proud to introduce a fresh perspective.

How important is materiality in our process? For Kuni, woodwork is still based on the old ways – traditional, skilled and fine work paying attention to the grain, joinery and functionality. Kuni creations come with a contemporary twist – shapes or materials that keep the furniture edgy rather than oldfashioned. Benches and tables are designed in modern outline, with simple detail, but above all, a respect for the wooden slab and the particular grain. Reassuringly old school, while pushing modern boundaries to create timelessness.

Trends currently impacting our industry? The Kuni Atelier embraces sustainable design as a guiding principle in the production of all our wooden furniture. Foremost, all the wood featured in the Kuni collections have been ethically sourced and the furniture, responsibly produced. We take pride in using traditional hand-methods as much as possible in the shaping of our creations. We have great respect for protected tree species in South Africa. All of our designs made from these trees are sourced from fallen slabs. We take immense care to create works of art from these wooden slabs to ensure that they are treasured in households for years to come.

Our advice for other creative entrepreneurs? Don’t give up on your dreams. Know that there will be hurdles in life, understand that it is part of the journey. Be different, be inspired.