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Wooden Furniture in South Africa

Apr 24

Wooden Furniture

by Mukango Africa

The process of furnishing your home is a personal one. It involves cultivating a living space that is simultaneously one that brings you comfort and joy and one that is an expression of yourself and your aesthetic.

Buying particle board furniture is affordable, but it doesn’t last long. It also has no personality and disappears against the rest of your decor. Adding beauty and history to your home is just one reason why purchasing handcrafted furniture from South Africa is a wise investment.

The Importance of Wooden Furniture in South Africa

There are many beautiful trees native to the African continent. Each tree is as different as the region where it grows. Some of the most exotic wood is native to South Africa, including:

  • Iroko
  • Kiaat
  • Sapele
  • Wenge
  • Zebrano 

Each of these woods has unique qualities. Iroko is a golden brown that gives furniture a timeless look. 

Kiaat, also known as African Teak, is a durable light brown wood. Sapele resembles mahogany and gets darker and richer with age. These woods give the furniture a beautiful, classic look and pull the light into a room.

Wenge and Zebrano are your top choices if you’re looking for a darker wood. Wenge is dark brown wood with even darker streaks in the grain. Zebrano is dark brown wood with striking cream stripes in the grain. Instead of overpowering a room, furniture made of dark wood draws the eye and works well as statement pieces.

South African artisans carve into these woods because they add interesting elements to the work. They know how to allow the wood to showcase its natural beauty in terms of the wood hues and grain patterns.

Using these types of wood as furniture ensures you’ll have durable pieces that last for a lifetime. It’s not uncommon for families to pass down their hand-carved tables, chairs, and stools. Not only are you embracing South African tradition and the natural world, but you’re also creating your family history by allowing the furniture to live through generations.

The Value of Wooden Furniture in South Africa

South African hardwood provides a different look than woods native to America and Europe. When you have a particular aesthetic in your home, furniture with unique coloring or grain patterns can elevate your interior design.

Carving is a South African tradition that surpasses the mere creation of art. South African artisans carved work that represented their history, traditions, and life history. They didn’t have contact with the broader art world for years, so they made these creative pieces for themselves.

South African carvings originated as masks worn in traditional ceremonies or for entertainment. Artists then began making carved figures. Over time, they applied their craft to snuff bottles, dishes, and stools.

Moving from stools and small accent elements to larger furniture was a natural progression. With all the exotic hardwood available in South Africa, artisans had access to unique blank slates. They began creating tables, chairs, stools, and thrones to showcase their love and respect for the animal kingdom and the natural world.

In modern times, it’s common for people to buy nondescript furniture from big box stores, put it together themselves, and only use it for a few years before it falls apart. But the value of wooden furniture in South Africa is that these pieces are handmade, have beautiful decorative elements, and are durable enough to last a lifetime.

Examples of African Wood Furniture 

African wooden furniture can give your home a stately yet unique feel. The examples below will give you an idea of how such beautiful additions can positively impact your home.

Hand Carved African Dining Set

This impressive dining set seats ten people. Ideal for large dinner parties or family gatherings, the long table has smooth, rounded ends and an extensively carved top. The chairs, likewise, are imposing and artistically created. 

Each surface of the table and the chairs shows a relief carving of one or more animals. Each animal has a different stance, proving the capability and imagination of the carver. Every piece of this dining set also features African designs along the edges and legs. 

Crafted from the same wood and lovingly hand-carved, this dining set provides an authentic and captivating addition to your dining room.

Elegant Dining Set

This dining set features a round table and six chairs, ideal for a smaller dining room or breakfast nook. The table, in particular, has incredible detail, with a smoothed round portion in the very center surrounded by lower carved animals. 

A layer of glass protects the animals, so you can place dishes around the entire tabletop. The remainder of the table includes gentle wavy carvings around the outer edge and clawed feet on the central legs. A sturdy crossed base keeps the table level.

The six matching chairs, while more somber than those of the dining set above, still portray the artistry and skill of the maker. Each features a hand-carved back, where animals stand out in lifelike relief. The edging designs on the chairs reflect and relate to those also found on the table, tying the whole set together.

Custom Bar and Stools

If you have the space, a custom bar and accompanying stools will bring another level of uniqueness into your home. With a smooth-as-silk top and carved walls, the bar tells a story beyond anything that can fit on a tabletop or chair. Large panels with extensive carvings make this bar your own.

The four matching stools won’t take away from the beauty of the bar and instead enhance the effect with similar designs on the edges and legs. 


If you want something especially imposing and empowering, take a look at the available thrones. These massive works of art are true to their name; sitting in one will make you feel royal.

Each features a cushioned seat and back, leaving the remaining wooden parts free to reflect the creativity and skill of the maker. With towering backs and carved armrests portraying the head of animals, these pieces are certainly works of art.