Interior Motives Awards 2005 Finalist Frankfurt Germany
A project looking into the local Sierra Leonean bly (woven basket) as a material in a flexible car interior platform. The Concept combines Eco-friendly materials, with transformable interior characteristics plus an asymmetric exterior which made it internationally recognised.
The Kenema concept designed in 2003 asks two questions; what is valuable and who decides? Many a time I have experienced the humble bly disregarded in many Sierra Leonean markets as a symbol of poverty.
One can argue that because people carry bly on their heads shows the high status of this material. How can one argue that leather is more or less valuable than bly even though leather in the automotive industry is seen as superior in class.
The aim of the Kenema was to incorporate the warm colour, tactility and impact energy absorption characteristics of this material as a substitute for plastics. As bly is a very malleable, light and strong material, it can be thinly woven onto a frame to create a stylish form. This can give more space in the dashboard and the flexibility to house more within it such as laptops and a foldaway steering wheel.
Moreover with a folding bed in the boot, flat folding removable seats, and a light collapsible folding side table underneath the parcel shelf, the customisable possibilities are endless and one can live in this hatchback. This flexibility thinking was also seen in the 2005 Mini concept car in the Frankfurt Motor Show.
The asymmetric front and rear exterior of the Kenema was quite unique, challenging and avant-garde in 2004 when it chosen to represent Northumbria University in the 2005 World Automotive Design Contest. With the B-pillar incorporated into the rear hinged rear doors, access into the vehicle is with great ease. This was initially a controversial feature as some related it to the suicide doors on pre-war cars. This feature however is now seen in highly acclaimed cars such as the Rolls Royce Phantom, Mini Clubman and 2010 Opel/Vauxhall Meriva.
The aim of the Kenema was to make history and win at the highly acclaimed Interior Motives Design Award for the 2nd consecutive year in 2005. Although it didn’t win, being one of the three finalists in competition against design student from all over the world was a great achievement for a piece of Sierra Leonean thinking.