The Things That We Do: Online Exhibition

NEON x 98 Crafted’s collaborative exhibition ‘The Things That We Do’, is a response to gentrification, globalisation and a culture of homogenised creativity.

Through the African tradition of storytelling, we discovered and translated local habits into objects co-designed with artisans

The exhibition launched at Design Week Addis Ababa, with live interactions, including sketching with visitors and sending them 3D scans of themselves. 

Development and production was completed in Nairobi, and the exhibition was displayed at Nairobi National Museum for 6 weeks, launching during Nairobi Design Week 2019.

Each object was 3D scanned to preserve it digitally, and allow anyone with a smartphone to view it, in line with our values of accessibility and inclusivity. #DesignIsForEveryone

Explore East Afrikan 3D scans, sketches, stories, and videos.

The project was supported by the British Council’s ‘East Africa Arts’ Programme, an annual open call for 18-35 year old artists, organisations and collectives from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, South Sudan, Sudan and Tanzania.

Supported by : British Council – East Africa Arts
Live Exhibitions : Design Week Addis Ababa (11-17 February 2019) and Nairobi Design Week (17-23 March 2019).
Collaborators : NEON, 98 Crafted, Design Week Addis Adaba
Artisans : Asego Woodwork, Wood Craft, Big 5, Tope Pottery, Crochet by Kuki
3D Scanning : Hutchery 360

Sketches & prototypes were based on descriptions from local people,
then turned into physical objects by local artisans, and 3D scanned.

MAKER INSIGHT: Crochet by Kuki

Kristine Kithaka of Crochet by Kuki at Nairobi Design Week 2019.

"My mum brought me back a crochet bikini from I got on YouTube and learned how to do it."

DRINKING: Ethiopia

the things that we do concept 1,hand drawn sketch of a teapot with two spouts

“In a part of Ethiopia people have coffee with butter.

They have two things to pour so the pot has two holes.

They put butter and coffee inside the pot and the butter melts.

They pour the coffee, one hole is for coffee and the other is for butter and they mix in a cup.”


“The tea cosy used to keep the tea in the kettle hot. it is thick and shaped like a marvin.

The outer side is made with a material that looks like paper parchment with knitted wool decoration like flowers and the inside is a thick wool like a winter jacket. tea mugs are very special."

line drawings of whole set for drinking including cups for the things that we do

"It’s like a right of passage when you are old enough to select your own mug. In a luhya household the tea mug is always big. you get your mug as a gift or when it ‘calls to you’ in a store.

I like mine long and normal tea mug width. my brother’s is very wide like a soup cup and stubby. if you get a mug in my house it means you are special to me.”


John Mungai, founder of Tope Creations talks of how he started with a single potter's wheel and kiln, which he bought with his savings, and how his business has grown through his love of pottery.

PLAYING: Ethiopia

sketch of a long object that looks like a hockey stick, with a ball
hockey stick wooden object with metal plate on face

“Players use sticks to strike a ball in an effort to pass it through the opponents’ goal at the end of the pitch.

To make one of these sticks, the player looks for a branch just longer than arm’s length and curved at the end.

While the shaft is typically cylindrical, the sides of the end are carved flat for better ball handling.

The ball is wooden and slightly ovoid. as the wood is a tan colour and would be easily lost in the similarly coloured field, it’s painted with bright colors to make it more easily visible.”


Three cups roughly shaped of different sizes

“We make 7 holes in a row, put 3 stones in every hole. We take chances to distribute the stones in the 7 holes, everyone tried their best to get all the 21 stones in one hole.

Whoever managed to do that was the winner until the next time we played and someone else would win.

The winning was either by luck, but most players used to cheat: either you jump a hole or you place two stones in a hole.

And rarely would the player who followed to rules win. but don’t get caught!”


Loyd Ngele is the founder of Wood Craft on Ngong Rd, Nairobi.

"Our designs don't alter its natural shape much, it's the same tree, but you make it useful in another way."

EATING: Ethiopia

The Things That We Do big bowl

“It’s shaped like a goblet, wider on the top and it has a kind of plate on the bottom.

When we have guests we serve porridge out of this, it shows respect.”


Board for meat that's warped by being repeatedly washed

“This is a small store where they have a grill and meat has been cooking since 11am, and now it’s about 2pm so it’s ready.

So we all sit down, it’s kind of dark, it’s smoky, the ambience is set. It’s smells like meat.

Then the food comes, the person who cuts the meat comes with the meat. He comes with a cutting board and kind of places the leg on top of it and it doesn’t fall off.

It’s a bit wavy. water, dries, water, dries, so it gets wavy. He holds the end and starts slicing it up. The idea is eat it while it’s hot so as he cuts, we eat.”

MAKER INSIGHT: Asego General Woodwork

Asego General Woodwork is Christopher Dianga's carpentry shop on Ngong Rd, Nairobi.

"Our youth can make a decision at this time, that crafts are going to be beneficial for their future."

WEDDING: Ethiopia

Three cups roughly shaped of different sizes

“It’s made out of a plant that is like a cucumber. you cut it open and remove the seeds.

You can make a coffee cup out of it, or if it’s bigger you can keep milk or butter in it.

It’s treated with butter so it feels like glass. It’s a good gift for the bride.”


Large flat dish for The Things That We Do

“Different presents are given to the bride during a kikuyu wedding.

She gets an uteo which is used to clean grain. it is round and light in weight with a large diameter and low height.

The grains are put in it and tossed in the air, the dirt flies away and the grain lands back in the uteo.”


"You learn something new every day".
Big Five tell us how their name came to be and about life making metal animals in Nairobi.

COOKING: Ethiopia

Round flat pan for bread as part of The Things That We Do exhibit

“A large, round spatula that is used to remove the injera from the pan in one piece.

It is somewhat similar to a pizza paddle, except that it is round.”



“When we get guests, we always share what we have. If they are an announced guest, we shall prepare whatever we were going eat.

It is a way of appreciating each other. A mbuzi is used to grate the coconut. It is made with two wooden boards intersecting at an angle.”