i was excited to come across homewares brand kudu recently, whose artisanal, handcrafted décor pieces advocate traditional crafts with contemporary style and function. founded by thandi mbali renaldi, kudu creates and curates beautiful homeware, décor, accessories and lifestyle goods from the african continent with a backstory and authenticity that is not always found elsewhere, championing pride in artistic tradition, innovation and endless creativity. renaldi seeks out items that are beautiful, original and wherever possible made in partnership with local artists and communities from sustainable sources, manufactured with respect for the local environment and its inhabitants.
the new spring edit fuses natural textures and materials with a simple palette, punctuated with pops of colour, tapping into the talent of skilled craftspeople on the african continent, to offer affordable, stylish and ethical pieces that are full of charm and character. the whole collection reminds me fondly of time spent wandering the neighbourgoods market in johannesburg a few years ago, wishing i could bring everything home with me!
social enterprise and gorgeous ethical product is at the heart of our offering. kudu’s philosophy continues to embrace the beautiful, traditional and contemporary styles of the african continent and this collection is for anyone seeking to create an eclectic, authentic interiors style. ~ thandi mbali renaldi
the first items to catch my eye in the new spring edit were the elegant range of handcrafted wooden accessories in ash and basswood, made by skilled local craftsmen from the franschhoek community in south africa. beautiful hand-turned wooden salt pods, wooden bowls and platters sit alongside wild olive wood salad servers with decorative bone handles that are at once both traditional in design and graphically modern.
there is also an edit of exquisite horn accessories, which kudu have introduced to their collection for the first time. designed by ugandan artisans using the upcycled horns of the ugandan ankole cow, no two pieces are the same – they vary in pattern and shade due to the natural, organic nature of horn.
similar upcycling sensibilities see discarded wine bottles from hotels and restaurants in blantyre city in malawi form the starting point for the eponymously named blantyre jars.
the bottles, in varying shades of green, are cut and smoothed by local artisans using twine, stone and sandpaper. each distinctive jar features a perfectly solid and weighty mahogany lid with a unique wood grain, hand-turned and made to measure.
i cannot wait to add a few of these to my home – aren’t they simply divine?
preserving and celebrating the rich weaving tradition of ethiopia, kudu’s selection of cotton textiles are entirely handmade in the country from natural fibres and dyed in soil for rich, natural shades. the bold graphic prints are created by hand using traditional silk screens in vibrant colour hues that will infuse your home interior with african cheer.
i’m also totally taken with the bonakele baskets from kudu’s song of the weaver collection, with each unique handwoven grass basket based on the biographies of three generations of weavers from one family: ‘gogo’ christina mngometulu, her first-born daughter siphiwe and siphiwe’s daughter bonakele.
read on as i chat with kudu founder thandi mbali renaldi about her daily routines, creature comforts and travel inspirations..
thandi mbali renaldi, founder, kudu
describe your weekday morning routine
my morning usually consist of making sure that my children are dressed, fed and have the right items in their school bags. i might manage to eat a bowl of porridge, and maybe a slice of toast with homemade jam. one essential for me is a cup of tea. we have a large selection of fancy teas in the cupboard but to wake me up i always have a strong cup of ordinary pg tips, which i used to have to buy in the uk but i can now find it in supermarkets here in belgium. a couple of times a week, once i have dropped the children at school i dash to the gym and get an hour’s workout in. i find it helps me keep up my energy levels and leaves me feeling really happy.
how does your weekend morning routine differ?
there is less of a rush so we can eat a later breakfast and that means we can have american pancakes with maple syrup. one of my kids is now old enough to make the recipe himself, which is nice! if one of the children has a sporting event then we will all pile in the car to go and cheer them on. we live near a couple of great outdoor markets with an excellent selection of fresh produce stall. it also gets one used to knowing what is in season and what is not and you often get to taste before you buy, which makes the whole experience really fun although i often return with items i hadn’t intended to purchase!
describe your favourite corner of your home.
my favourite corner is at the armchair in the kitchen. it is by the window that looks out onto the garden. our garden isn’t massive but we have put a lot of effort into it over the years. it has a really old lilac tree, which i love, as when i look out of the kitchen window i can see birds settling there for the feeder we have placed there. it also smells heavenly during the brief period when it is in blossom.
what’s your favourite home fragrance?
i have tried several home fragrances but ultimately, the smell of fresh flowers is always amazing. in spring, having a few hyacinths either in vases or in pots can really fill the house with a delicious perfume. lilac or honeysuckle or my absolute favourite, fresh roses all add a subtle and fresh scent.
go-to comfort food dish?
i am married to an italian, so i would have to go with pasta. he makes a mean spaghetti pomodoro with salted capers that is so simple but full of flavour.
how do you like to unwind on a sunday evening?
in summer we spend sunday evenings in the garden pottering around but in winter we hunker down in the den with a drama series. a silly action plot, like designated survivor or a political thriller like house of cards would be top of the list.
where do you go for a weekend escape?
it might sound like a cliché but i would have to say paris. it is not far from us here so the advantage is that for a short weekend trip, you can reach paris from brussels in ninety minutes, as opposed to other mini-break destinations where you might fly spending much of your weekend travelling to or from the airport. paris is a city with so many neighbourhoods to explore and it is a stunningly beautiful city. my other favourite city for a weekend escape is lisbon, which meets all criteria; great people, wonderful food, lively social scene and the big bonus is that it has great beaches.
finally, what’s your dream destination for a month-long vacation?
the world is so full of beautiful places that i have yet to visit but even though it is one of my homes south africa is a destination i never tire of. the welcoming attractions of beaches, mountains, wildlife, history and cultural mix provide a combination that has so much to offer travellers. plus there is no jet lag for european travellers as you just fly south!