Designing Breakthrough Bamboo Products from Africa



Product & Industrial Design


  • sustainability, value of design


Southern African countries are blessed with abundance of rich non-wood species including bamboo.

Countries like Botswana, Zambia, Kenya and Tanzania have most resource-rich ecosystems in the continent. Previous studies have shown that, in these countries, non-wood products are among the diversity of resources that have contributed to the well being of local communities, particularly at household level where resources are used for subsistence and income generation.

The paper demonstrates how simultaneous improvement of ‘form and function’ through advances in style and technology may add the value dimension for global acceptance of the products designed and made in Africa. It is envisaged that a paradigm shift would be made by exploring the ways and means of sustainable bamboo product design, fabrication techniques, assess end-users needs for potential interventions, investigate opportunities for designing and developing low-cost efficient technologies, examine existing policies and procedures in the region and enhance profitability of alternative production
systems and worldwide marketing.

Consequently, the region is now poised to diversify the economy through industrialization with a focus on creating breakthrough products and export promotion. Little or no research has been conducted to examine the possibilities to commercialize such products for international markets. The research undertaken by the first author is based upon a research question: ‘Is it possible to create sustainable livelihood opportunities by integrated designing and manufacturing breakthrough products made from indigenous materials, e.g., bamboo?’

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