Aeroplane and car seats- maker, Highway Upholstery, bought an automated machine to custom-cut seat parts leaving out a huge pile of iron sheet wastes that excited their workers.
The ‘wastes’ bore attractive embroidery patterns on the iron sheets igniting interest in a new business line of making wrought iron sheet products using the computerised numerical machine(CNC).
“We imported the CNC machine from Japan for seat making but discovered it could also make other products and that prompted us to hire artistes to help us create local artworks that could be replicated for sale to clients,” said the firm’s director Douglas Gikonyo.
The decorated steel panel cut-outs have emerged as a popular alternative for walls and unattractive patterns that don many old buildings.
The firm adopted patterns that reflect local cultures especially the big five- lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo prominently displayed on the final products when illuminated. This conceals wastewater, sewage and water-pipes installed on the outer walls giving buildings an ugly outlook.
Partitions within hotel spaces are done using the wrought iron designed sheets with some developers now putting them around swimming pools. This is decorated with tendril plants giving the now Zen Gardens a rustic feeling.
Siance Manufacturing is also involved in making the decorative steel panels for various products. A decorated steel panel door, retails at between Sh27,000 to Sh45,000. Nairobi properties have integrated the metallic artworks on guardrails as well as wall decorations within sitting areas as well as on the veranda area.
“Client’s dictate our next designs by giving suggestions on what they want,” he adds.
Mr Gikonyo says some customers have also used the new designs to make headboards and rest shade roofs.
“It is no longer a waste since its market has matured where property developers now order for iron wrought designed doors and windows that reflect their corporate image,” he says.
The wastes generated are also used for making trophies, house furniture as well as flower stands by local jua kali welders that buy the wastes.