From rat traps to chandeliers

Agustino used to make traps from leftover wire in the village market – today he’s behind some of the most stunning light fittings in our camps

Wandering through a village market over ten years ago, looking for some local inspiration, Nomad designer Joanna Cooke, spotted some hand-twisted metal rat-traps. Made from wire, and with a lot of hard work and creativeness clearly having gone into them, she found the design and workmanship instantly appealing. The man behind them, Agustino, had left school and started making rat-traps to earn an income to support his family, selling each one for around $1. Knowing how impossible it is to buy lampshades of any quality in Arusha, and always on the lookout for ways to adapt local craftsmanship to contemporary design, his resourceful creations set Jo’s mind wandering, and she could see the potential his work could have if given a little push in the right direction. One thing led to another and soon Agustino was using his rat-trap making skills on some more unique pieces for our Nomad camps. 

This was not a one-time collaboration, but a relationship that we set out to foster into the future, both for Agustino and his family, and to help meet our persistent need for hard-to-find furnishings. Nomad helped Agustino train in complementary artistry; he learned to weld and his work expanded to include lamp bases, fireguards, and other elaborate pieces. Since then he has played a central role in putting together some of the finishing touches in our Lamai camp and Mkombe’s House. 
No longer in the rat-trap business, and with a better source of income from his welding endeavours, Agustino now puts his earnings towards a motorbike repair workshop that he saved to set up himself. He continues to make hundreds of light fittings for Nomad and we continue to support him on a freelance basis.