Three designers working separately in a studio next to a large digital screen.

Designers going all in for togetherness

Nairobi-based husband and wife team Naeem Biviji and Bethan Rayner describe themselves as designer makers. Getting their hands dirty every day is what makes them tick. For the upcoming VÄRMER collection the couple has created products that are all about getting together.

Their workshop on the outskirts of Nairobi is at the heart of Naeem Biviji’s and Bethan Rayner’s business. This is where they build and try out nearly everything they design and make.

“In Kenya, we live in this amazing world where everything is ad hoc. There’s something beautiful to be learnt from improvisation. We don’t rely on buying everything, we have to make things ourselves”, says Naeem.

A woman looking at a print of a blue pattern.

The job satisfaction comes from knowing that they’ve created something great.

“If we do our job well that space or object – whether it’s an exhibition area, a table, a chair, or a kitchen utensil – can have a very real positive influence on whoever uses it”, says Bethan.

“Fundamentally, our interest is in people. Most of us live such complicated lives, we don’t slow down and engage with each other enough. Our products hopefully encourage people to interact more, to spend more time together”, Naeem adds.

A person holding a wooden nutcracker, with a man and a woman in the background.

Their contribution to VÄRMER collection (the other part is made by Swedish designer couple Sarah and Jens Fager) is all about making it easier and more fun to get together. The products – a games table, a flexible candle holder, stackable jugs, and much more – are inspired by their own families’ different ways of celebrating the holidays, and by the Kenyan traditions.

A hand pointing at a technical drawing.

“The whole country stops from the 15th of December until the New Year. It gets hot and the avocados and mangos come into season. In Nairobi the kids have a long holiday over Christmas. It’s a festive time when everyone hangs out together outdoors”, says Bethan.

The VÄRMER products are designed with the holiday season in mind, but are just as great for breaks during busy work weeks.

“The mugs work just as fine for coffee as for mulled wine and the Nutcracker inspired biscuit cutters are great for all kinds of cookies, all year round. Hopefully people will use everything in VÄRMER regardless of the season”, concludes Bethan.

A man working with clay on a desk, with women working at a workbench in the background.

Bethan Rayner and Naeem Biviji

– Lives in Nairobi, Kenya

– Two children: 5 and 3

– Run Studio Propolis in Nairobi

– Together with Swedish designer couple Sarah and Jens Fager they’ve created VÄRMER, a collection for the holiday season that launches in October 2019