In the design of Singita Mara River Tented Camp the focus was on creating an immersive experience at the famed river crossing point for the annual migration. The look and feel, conceptualised by Cécile & Boyd, is a profound celebration of contemporary African design and offers a sense of laid back luxury.
The camp draws inspiration from its East African location, but with a feeling of bohemian glamour that seeks to balance form and function in a non-traditional way. This creates an visual ambience that is elegant but relaxed, with an industrial metal frame work in black hammorite, hung with beige tents and then lined inside in cool white cotton canvas walls and ceilings. Wooden decks and basket walls and roofs tie the camp to the site in a delicate and respectful way, ensuring that it touches the earth lightly.
As part of their interpretation of the vision for the camp, GAPP Architects & Urban Designers created generous ‘fitto’ screens that provide shade for the outdoor dining and lounge areas, and suspended sapling walls are strategically placed the define the space and offering privacy for our guests. The tents are positioned on the edge of ‘hovering’ decks, so that one is slightly elevated, maximising the views and creating separate living areas on different levels. Fly sheets allow guests to enjoy the space and also to sleep with the main tent flaps open, while protected from inquisitive insects.
Strong contemporary design puts a fresh spin on local creativity, with inspiration coming from traditional, everyday African objects like baskets, beads and pots. There has been a distinct focus on sourcing the talented work of young inspiring African designers. The camp’s signature colour palette of camel, red, grey and charcoal has been incorporated into various decor items and furniture pieces, and live alongside timber sculptures carved from single pieces of wood. Similarly, wooden turned lights, whose shapes are derived from African pots and then extruded to form the various shapes, are expressed in a contemporary form. The lights are manufactured from sustainable jacaranda wood, while others are made of papier-mâché.
Deep, low-slung sofas and beds are layered in hand spun natural fabrics, throws and cushions of differing weights from heavy sack to sheer muslin voiles. ‘Campaign’ inspired retro travel chests in canvas and raw leather with polished metal detailing create desks, trousseaux and side tables. The relaxed atmosphere is further enhanced with bamboo cutlery, wonky crockery and wobbly glass, wood raffia and huge linen napkins bound in plaited rings.
Extensive use of sustainably sourced, hand crafted African basket ware lends a contemporary but tactile element to the design. For example the wire baskets on the screen near the pool are the exact shape and design of grain sorting baskets, but constructed in wire so that they evolve into a purely decorative element. Baskets used for filtering traditional beer have been painted and hung in a group to form an art work.
The culture and heritage of neighbouring Masai and local Kuria tribes inspired the jewel-like colours of red, black and blue, while their use of pattern and natural materials heavily influenced the design. Throughout the interior there are items of interest to inspire the guests to see this creativity in a new way and invite the staff to share stories of how African culture and design has been interpreted in a new way.
Internal bathrooms with generous open shower areas and vanity units offer incredible views through a folded-back tent flap towards the river. In the outdoor bathroom, the tub is perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the gorgeous river view while offering total privacy. Beds face eastwards so that the rising sun acts as a natural alarm clock in the early morning, and refreshments are taken on the decks to catch the cooling breeze… the experience is designed to allow the guest to fully engage in this indescribable location.
Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the epitome of sustainable tourism and consciously seeks to eliminate the unnecessary use of energy and non-biodegradable materials. In keeping with this philosophy, the camp operates “off-the-grid” and relies entirely on a custom designed solar system for its power and the use of recycled and natural materials wherever possible. Contact our reservations team to find out more about visiting this untouched wilderness.