The Things That We Do

Fictional objects made real


This NEON x 98 Crafted’s collaborative exhibition is a response to gentrification, globalisation and a culture of homogenised creativity.

Through the African tradition of storytelling, we discovered and translated local habits from Kenya and Ethiopia 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, launched 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.


Starting with an audio description, sketches & prototypes were created into physical objects by local makers, and finally 3D scanned.



Crochet by Kuki

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

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


The Things That We Do - Ethiopia - Drinking by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio extract

  • 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 Things That We Do - Kenya - Drinking by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio extract

  • 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.
  • 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.


Wood Craft

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."


The Things That We Do - Ethiopia - Eating by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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.


The Things That We Do - Kenya - Eating by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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.


Big Five

"You learn something new every day".

Big Five tell us how their name came to be and about life making metal animals in Nairobi.


The Things That We Do - Ethiopia - Eating by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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.


The Things That We Do - Kenya - Cooking by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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.


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."


The Things That We Do - Ethiopia - Wedding by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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.”


The Things That We Do - Kenya - Wedding by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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.”


Tope Pottery

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.


The Things That We Do - Ethiopia - Playing by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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.


The Things That We Do - Kenya - Playing by NEON on Sketchfab

Audio Extract

  • 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!

Exploring local habits in Kenya & Ethiopia through Drink, Eat, Cook, Marry and Play.

Project Credits








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