“My wish is inspiration from the City of New York,” Hamed Ouattara approached us via email in summer 2019, “and to surprise myself with the objects and creations that emerge. I would like to rub shoulders with my Brooklyn surroundings!”
BURKINA FASO TO BROOKLYN
Hamed — from Studio Hamed Ouattara in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in West Africa — suggested a barter: a month-long working residency in New York in exchange for the furniture he would create.
In early November 2019, Hamed and I scouted Brooklyn for reclaimed materials. At Smith & 9th streets, in a packed salvage yard shoved under the rusting, elevated Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, we found our diamonds in the rough.
Hamed zeroed in on used green metal barrels (that originally held cooking ingredients); old green file drawers (originally from a library or office); and tossed-out radiator screens.
Hamed set to work at MakerSpace NYC at the converted Brooklyn Army Terminal, cutting metal, shaping and welding furniture.
“The influence of the great New York metropolis on my work was immediate,” reflected Hamed. “The
rusting elevated Brooklyn highway and iron subway lines clicked as my next inspired piece: a mix of train
and bridge shapes.”
“The doors of the trains racing in the tunnels stayed with me throughout my stay, he
continued. “The subways, lines made of metal, the screech of the friction of the wheels at
each stop — none was foreign to me. It reminded me of my work at home in the workshop.”
Rooted in Burkina Faso, Hamed’s artisanry embeds deep convictions. “Art has a role to play in the development of Africa,” he believes, “and my work reflects this conviction.” Hamed continued: “One of my aims is design that exposes the realities of modern Africa, to provide authenticity in a continent which suffers from imports and all kinds of imitation furniture…”
OBJECTS THAT EMERGE
We were thrilled that Hamed reached out to partner with us in “rubbing shoulders” with New York, mebl was able to support an extraordinarily imaginative artisan in taking the risk to see what beautifully reimagined furniture would emerge when welding his philosophy into found objects from Brooklyn.
Explore Hamed’s spectacular pieces on this page of our site.