Innovation That Matters

Furniture with a story, crafted from salvaged sailing dhows


Dhows are boats of an ancient design that East Africans have long sailed on the Indian Ocean from Goa to Oman, following monsoon winds back and forth to Mozambique for fishing and cargo transport. Though such vessels typically get beached and abandoned when they can no longer weather the seas, Portuguese House of Wonders salvages and gives them new life in its line of one-of-a-kind furniture. Retired dhows typically contain hardwood planks and frames that are still salvageable, so House of Wonders buys them from sailors on the coast of Tanzania, giving those owners the funds to build new ones. Meanwhile, the company ships the salvaged boats inland to its workshop near Dar Es Salaam, where more than 40 “fundis,” or craftsmen, carefully disassemble and then re-invent them using almost exclusively traditional hand tools. More than 150 unique pieces are currently available, each with a certificate of origin including the story of the particular dhow that provided its wood. Custom pieces are also available. In addition to a showroom in Dar Es Salaam, the company’s standard furniture line will also be displayed in a gallery in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and Cascais, Portugal, starting in November. Products are available for shipping directly from Tanzania or consolidated through House of Wonders’ logistical points in Europe, the Caribbean or the Americas. While using salvaged wood with an interesting history is undoubtedly a clever move for any furniture maker, what’s even more clever about House of Wonders’ approach is making the most of that history with a certificate that explains each product’s background. After all, as regular Springwise readers know, there’s nothing like a product life story to elevate its authenticity and still-made-here appeal—not to mention its value. What recycled materials could *your* brand salvage and incorporate into its design and marketing…? (Related: Virgin Atlantic’s seat covers, reborn as bagsAirplane trolleys, revamped & repurposed.)



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