Jean Servais Somian

From his home and studio in Grand Bassam, furniture designer and sculptor, Jean Servais Somian draws inspiration from West Africa’s heritage and long-held tradition of wood carving. Somian’s preferred wood is coconut - a sustainable alternative to rainforest timber. He is fascinated by its contrasting characteristics of extreme hardness and fragility. To hone this challenging wood he uses custom-made tools from local blacksmiths achieving the elegant and sinuous furniture for which he has become known.

Preserving the wiry, innate strength of the tree, something which will influence the shape of the final piece, he pierces and hollows out parts of the wood to create varying apertures or ‘windows’. The elongated trunks are then sculpted into the unique totem pieces presented in this exhibition. They display a sobriety of function together with a precise subtlety of form. Somian’s works have been exhibited in the Biennale de l’Art Africain Contemporain, Dakar, Musée du Quai Branly, Paris and 1:54 Fair, London, 2015.