Ozwald Boateng’s Mancala game is this year’s Best Plaything

Wallpaper* Design Awards 2024: the Mancala Game, handcrafted By Giobagnara, is part of the Poltrona Frau Culture & Craft collection in collaboration with Ozwald Boateng

Mancala by Ozwald Boateng for Poltrona Frau
(Image credit: Neil Godwin at Future Studios for Wallpaper*)

This Mancala Game, handcrafted  By Giobagnara, is part of the Poltrona Frau Culture & Craft collection in collaboration with Ozwald Boateng: a collaboration launched in 2023, the collection is defined by the Savile Row designer’s interpretations of the Italian furniture company’s classics. 

The collection includes quintessential Poltrona Frau icons such as the ‘Chester’ sofa, a 1912 design conceived by the company's founder and inspired by Edwardian Chesterfields, and the ‘Vanity Fair’ chair, from 1984, which feature a distinctive
embossing of his signature ‘Tribal’ print on Frau leather. A pattern referencing traditional Kente Cloth Motifs, it becomes both a subtle decoration and a powerful aesthetic exercise once placed on the designs. 

But the collaboration expands beyond furniture and into Poltrona Frau's ‘Beautilities’ collection: featuring pet accessories, stationery, ceramic and glass objects as well as toys by a variety of creatives and craftspeople, the series expands Poltrona Frau’s offering into a sphere of wellbeing and culture. For this, Boateng has left his mark on rugs, wallpaper, cushions, scented candles and a Mancala board game, reflecting the spirit of the designer's approach to creation.

One of the oldest board games in history, Mancala derives its name from the Arabic word ‘Naqala’, meaning, ‘to move’. Boateng interpreted the traditional board and pieces (always 48 in the game, a number sacred across West African populations) in solid wenge and handcrafted Murano glass. ‘For me, this partnership is really about tradition,’ says Boateng, who for this collection also revisited his distinctive Tribal print as an embossed motif on brightly hued leather. The design is part of Boateng's mission to 'find a new language around tradition, the same way I did in Savile Row. There’s a subtlety to getting the balance of the two worlds right.’ We think he’s nailed it.


A version of this article appears in the February 2024 issue of Wallpaper* – dedicated to the Wallpaper* Design Awards 2024 – available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.

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