Many in Dubai who like to furnish their home with something a bit different can sometimes struggle due to the ‘convenience factor’ of the bigger, well-known stores. People tend to stick to the same tried-and-tested alternatives, which can cause major disappointment when visiting friends who turn out to have the same rugs and ornaments.
South-African born Joscine Kelbrick, who moved to Dubai four years ago, quickly came to the same conclusion. Soon after arriving she began importing pieces of traditional African artefacts, soft furnishings, game skins and cow hides to sell from a stall at the weekend Dubai Marina Market. Word quickly spread and orders began to pile up as her reputation for selling unusual and authentic quality products grew.
Designers and motivated home birds alike were suddenly queuing to buy her wares to furnish everything from villas to hotel rooms and before long a store was the obvious solution to cater for demand. In March 2009, Joscine opened her first premises in Al Barsha and, despite the developing nature of the location; customers are catching on to the new place where they can buy items with a real ‘wow factor’. Joscine has recently been joined by new business partner and fellow South African, Margaret Clack, whose focus is now on interior design and project services.
Natural wood, animal skins, horns, ostrich eggs and feathers dominate the collection. From striking ostrich-egg lamps through to zebra and wildebeest skins and solid wooden tables, Joscine has gathered a visually appealing collection that will appeal to those with modern and individual tastes. Everything in the store is also eco-friendly as it is all sourced from government-controlled game parks.
The biggest seller in the store is the Nguni cattle cow hides. The colourful hides can be tossed on the floor as rugs (large rugs cost Dh 2,200) or used for upholstery purposes. Some of the skins have been made into cushions, rugs and floor poufs (Dh 2,200). The luxurious cowhide chaise longue would be a focal point of any room and costs Dh 6,000.
Natural Springbok skins, the national antelope of South Africa are dyed bright and eye-catching colours, from pink to lime green - the skins are an ideal size for bedroom floors, particularly those of youngsters (Dh 350). There is also Kuba cloth available, which is the traditional Raffia-style material, handmade by the Kuba tribe of Central Africa.
There are interesting handmade alternatives to the usual boring, mass produced candles and picture frames. Many indigenous crafts from various tribes have been transformed into ornaments to showcase around the home. Multi-coloured beaded collars and belts from the Kenyan Masai tribe are mounted onto modern Perspex stands and add a splash of colour and authentic ethnicity. Expect to pay around Dh 400 for each piece.
Solid wood traditional Tiv game boards (sort of carved oval egg boxes) and beads make for an ancient African game called Mancala, which is African society’s equivalent of chess. However, remember to ask for instructions from staff on how to play before you leave. The game board can be used to house tea lights if you are not the game playing type (Dh 830).
Heavy ceramic floor vases and urns will set you back Dh 3,700, but are all handmade from one of South Africa’s top ceramicists. Many pieces contain crushed ostrich eggs and this unusual material is made into mosaics covering bowl, mirrors and even champagne buckets. The small bowl, which can be displayed on its own, retails for Dh 980. If something a little more dominant is needed to fill an empty corner, the 5ft wooden hand-carved Senufo birds will do just this. The bird can even stand proudly on guard at the front door, as they do outside Hide and Seek Africa.
Funky floor lamps in various colours using half a dozen ostrich eggs, which make up the base, will certainly be a talking point (Dh 2,750). Equally as outrageous are the Zulu Mama chrome plated egg-shaped chairs designed by South Africa’s top furniture designer, Haldane Martin, that are available in pink, black, red, green and cream. These unique chairs are produced from weaved recycled plastic and then crafted by South Africa’s homeless community - and at Dh 1,950 they make for a talking point unlike anything you will find in chain stores.
Even the display furniture holding all the products is for sale and is made from reclaimed solid Oregon wood. The wood is often from recycled railway tracks, which will appeal to environmentalists. Customers can even commission their own pieces, and there is an eight-week delivery timeframe for orders to be made and shipped from Africa.
The store is currently offering a 20 per cent discount on handbags, which are made from natural and dyed Springbok and cowhide. Many different styles include cowhide with laser-cut, leopard print and python are truly unique in this part of the world having been made by hand in Cape Town.
© 2000 - 2019 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)