Earning big from designing chairs

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By Christine Katende

It is always said that a creative mind is a source of gold. This does not exclude David Kiggundu, an interior designer who is making a living from carpentry.

The dream
In 2016, Kiggundu abandoned his daily house designing job and switched to making unique furniture.
He uses a material called rattan that he weaves on metal designed frames.
Rattan, which is now available on the Ugandan market, is composed of plastic, rubber and ultraviolet rays cannot be destroyed by rats.
“During the time I did interior designing, many clients would inquire about the perfect furniture for their porch garden,” he notes, adding, “I had no idea what to recommend until I researched and discovered ratten-weaved chairs. However these weren’t readily available in the country and the few you could find in furniture shops were very expensive.”

Starting
He did not start the innovation out of the blue. Kiggundu first established contacts with a leading Chinese online furniture store.
After grasping their wearing style, he decided to bring the technology here in Uganda. In a small tent placed in Nsambya with Shs1.5m as capital, he started importing the material which he had to weave on wooden frames.
That time he only managed to produce a six-seaterr set that he sold at about Shs1.5m.

Training
However after realising that the wooden frames would not earn him much, Kiggundu conceived a plan to travel to China in August 2017 for more training.
He trained for a month in advanced weaving. He not only went for training but as well as gained skills on how to change the minds of those who perceive locally made items low quality product.
He termed his initiative ‘buy Uganda promote Uganda’.
“I went to China to acquire knowledge on how I could perfect what I had already started. Putting something durable and of quality on the Ugandan market was my dream,” he reveals.

Hands on
After returning from China, Kiggundu started implementing the knowledge and he is currently producing furniture at his Chrome Outdoor Furniture workshop which is located at Luwaffu along Salaama road.
“After the training, I developed an idea to train and employ some youthbecause I could not achieve it while in a squeezed place in Nsambya, I relocated to Luwaffu zone along Salaama road where I managed to get a specious facility. Here I pay rent of Shs400,000 per month,” he reveals.
This furniture he makes is quite different from the usual as it applies both indoor and outdoor.

Durability
Above the durability of his furniture the innovator says this new metallic woven rattan furniture can last upto 15 years. He makes the chairs in a raised format making it hard for rodents to hide in.
“There is nothing like timber waste that is stuffed inside these chairs to bring out the shape or make them soft. We design the metal frames then weave to a finished chair,” he elucidates.
Kiggundu says many people have always bought beautiful sofas but with less or no knowledge on how durable the timber used is.
But the metal on which the rattan material is weaved is strong enough to last long.

Uniqueness
The art of weaving and the material used makes the furniture exceptional and beautiful.
Although Kiggundu has a team he works with, he never sits back to watch them do the work. The speed at which he weaves the rattan on these frames is fascinating. He orders the different coloured material from China, three to four times a month. The welding team is responsible for making frames in different designs as well as painting them.
This is use fast dry paint to avoid dust from settling on them before the weaving is done.
“We look at the finished piece and workout a frame on which we perfectly weave,” he notes.
The ratten material comes in different colours such as ash grey, black, cream, white, coffee brown and green.
Kiggundu is open to client’s ideas but that does not stop him from advising the client to pick ideas from the catalogues that are readily available at the workshop.
He does not only stop at working on selected sets but goes ahead to visit the client’s home to measure the size of the room.
This helps him ascertain the kind of set that will fit in a given space. Unlike sofas, the rattan furniture can be custom designed according to the client’s desires.
“In case you have one set indoors but feel like having a natural breeze, just remove the cushions and carry the chairs outside since they are light,” he confirms.
Unlike bulky sofas, ratten chairs can easily be transferred from one place to another. However, depending on the design, Kiggundu can make what is fit for outdoor or indoor and depending on the house wall paint. The colour of the cushions can easily be blended with other things such as curtains and centre carpet.
The chairs are designed in different shapes like L-shaped, box- shaped and basket shaped plus stools. After the centre tables and dining tables are weaved, a 2×3 fit mm glass is fixed on top to give the table a smooth surface.

Production
From November last year, Kiggundu has produced and sold more than 30 sets. He says the cost is very affordable depending on the size of furniture.
He sells a four-seater (two singles and a double) at Shs3m, five-seater (three-seater and two singles) cost Shs4m, six-seater (two doubles and two singles) at Shs5.5m. Garden set costs between Shs1.6m and Shs2.5m while a dining set ranges between Shs1.6 and Shs7m depending on the design and number of chairs.
Kiggundu now employs 10 workers at his workshop of whom he pays a monthly salary between Shs250,000 to Shs300,000.

Challenges
The shop has had its share of challenges such as frequent power blackouts, compelling employees to work overtime when there is power.

Monitor.co.ug

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