A Pure obsession with a daily thought process, ” Observe – Think – Create “, constant inspirations, unrestricted intellectual curiosity, and the urge to live within & solve problems are the motives that guide us both as individuals & as a studio. Questioning the default, challenging assumptions are common phrases you hear flying over at Kuncho. This is the story of a group of young passionate architects, designers and creators from Ethiopia and France, who transformed our shared obsession towards design into a start-up company in 2016 while we were still architecture students at EiABC.
Design and Kuncho
In our architectural experience, design has always been an irreplaceable tool—perhaps a splendid opportunity —for future-casting & formulating ways on how people might live moving forward. But more often than not, we tend to forget the power design has in unconsciously forcing lifestyles and cultures to evolve. In the African context where imported products dominate local products by a landslide, societies are forced to make adjustments to their way of life, facing great difficulties in upholding the cultural identities and lifestyles they have kept for generations. This is the keystone to the formation of Kuncho, the shared frustration & grievance we had towards our impotence in determining our own destiny and how we want to live as African societies, as for so many years it has been decided for us by others in both intended and subliminal way.
The Kuncho Way
Having set a co-working & co-living environment, the lifestyle we have chosen by itself is inspiring and conducive to innovative thinking. For us, Inspiration is nothing but complaining about shit and still being pumped to do something about it.
It comes from being present in life, paying a great deal of attention to the invisible factors we always miss out on. It is just as simple as having the will to respond to life’s never-ending questions.
Our daily process, ” Observe – Think – Create “, is at the core of our creative process. Every output is taken through a thorough run of research & design phases before they become available on the market.
Our process begins with the identification of gaps in our everyday lives through ‘Observing ‘. We expose ourselves to the outside world, immersing ourselves within the everyday lives of our society where we see the cracks & gaps to be filled.
Following intensive research on users’ lifestyles, then comes the ‘Thinking’ phase where designers brainstorm & conceptualize different ideas & solutions that can possibly be a remedy to the problem we are trying to tackle. Following that we proceed to ‘Creating’, we experiment with successive prototypes till products with the needed attributes and qualities surface. Then are ergonomically tested multiple times to make sure they achieve maximum ease of interaction with users before refining & crafting them to the finest degree of precision.
Challenges, hmm. Where do we even begin? We could begin with the self-proclaimed ‘right’ to snatch someone’s idea while believing its completely righteous to do so, or the unbearable bureaucracy that consumes 25 hours of our day, and how about the incredibly ‘updated’ rules and regulations or the blood boiling restrictions of access to monopolized industries, even more, our deep-rooted nonchalant work habit, the list could go on and on but after all challenges are what we creatives live for so bring it on.
A few years back, as a society, our tendency towards change, in general, was repulsive. Our complacency had been our worst enemy, we used to dwell in history. We were often hesitant to explore new horizons. Now, we are seeing a glimpse of openness, we are showing efforts to cope up with rapid technological evolution that the rest of the world is undertaking. We are now witnessing old rough roads being cleared out for creatives to flourish. Signals of growing innovation dynamics in being seen from different sectors, that’s pretty elevating… We would like to see more of that!
Hopes & Dreams
Now our studio is building momentum in the Ethiopian design industry, we plan to expand our horizon through crossing boundaries & establishing a multi-disciplinary ecosystem where researches & designs are incubated & nurtured to create some of the most innovative products to help enhance the Ethiopian and the African way of life. In the near future, we see ourselves becoming outrageously passionate entrepreneurs & inventors who relentlessly bring about positive change to the world around them and wear a big infectious smile as they do 🙂
Consumerism and Art
Art has always been about expression, be it appreciation or criticism. It is a reflection of one’s patterns of thought, culture & identity. As product designers, we believe products, beyond their physical essence, have subliminally encrypted expressive societal values and principles that can be constructive or destructive to the consumer’s identity. Look at us, how our lifestyle is morphing & resembling more and more to the west. However, we are barely conscious of our consumption of products and how it influences our behaviour. Borrowing Jan Gehl’s words “we shape our cities; thereafter cities shape us back.” Similarly, but in a much greater scale of impact, products we design have unchallenged power in shaping us back, dictating how we behave, how we live life in general. So next time you decide to purchase some stuff, pause for a jiffy and ask yourself ‘The heck am I buying beyond into?’
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